by Superintendent Russ Adams
At MOC-Floyd Valley, we are striving to make every classroom a place of rich and valuable learning for all students. Such a systemic goal requires clear and focused collaboration throughout the district. One of the tools we use to assess our efforts and provide direction is a process called “Instructional Rounds” – which is the educational version of medical rounds used in many medical school programs.
Instructional Rounds are a disciplined way for educators to work together to improve instruction (City, Elmore, Fiarman, & Teitel, 2009). At MOC-Floyd Valley we have been conducting Rounds visits for the past seven years. Our visits this year center on our Board-adopted learning focus, “We will stretch and learn through relevant, important activities, productive struggle, and appropriate levels of support.”
High School Rounds Visit – On November 12, a group of educators (in this case, our district administrators, instructional coaches and a teacher from each building) spent the morning visiting classrooms and observing the teaching/learning process. We were gathering evidence to support our theories of action –“If-then statement that describe how we believe learning and achievement can increase.” We had two stated Theories of Action for our high school visit.
1) IF we are asking students to engage in higher-order-thinking tasks requiring productive struggle AND to think about, process and answer higher-order-thinking questions, THEN the outcome will be a greater degree of learning for our students.
2) IF we create a positive learning environment, THEN student achievement will increase.
From these theories of action, we then developed two Problems of Practice.
1) What evidence do you see of higher-order thinking, productive struggle, and student engagement indicated by classroom language that promotes student motivation and perseverance?
2) What evidence do you see of positive classroom climate and culture occurring within the high school?
In the afternoon, our team re-convened and shared our observations. It was exciting to see the great degree to which we saw our students working hard and engaging in productive struggle in a very positive, supportive environment. This was the direct result of the careful planning and implementation of meaningful learning activities and thoughtful questions. In addition, the respectful tone and positive relationships among students and with the teachers was prevalent.
To wrap up the visit team members shared the evidence they saw in support of our problems of practice. We also shared possible opportunities for growth and finally shared our individual take-aways from the day – ways that we plan to improve our own efforts as a result of what we learned.
The most important part of the Instructional Rounds process actually happens after the visit day. In this case, it will occur when Mr. Mulder and the high school staff process the Rounds Team’s observations and suggestions as well as consider the implications for their work moving forward.
At MOC-Floyd Valley, we are deeply committed to continuous improvement, and the Instructional Rounds process helps us to engage in our own productive struggle as we foster learning excellence and civic responsibility in our students. I am thankful for the outstanding educators who serve here and look forward to our elementary and the middle school Instructional Rounds visits!