The Many Benefits Of Instructional Rounds Consultation

By Frances Bennett


Teachers play a vital role in shaping the future of the country by taking responsibility of educating young people to become responsible adults. Yet teachers are under tremendous pressure. They have to deal with a shortage of resources, big classes and many demands upon their time. In addition, teachers have to be involved with numerous non teaching activities and they simply have no time for personal development. With instructional rounds consultation teachers are least given the chance to learn from their colleagues.

The idea is basic and extremely easy to implement anywhere. A small number of teachers visit a colleague to watch him at his job. They do this in order to learn from that colleague and that is why teachers being observed are normally professionals that are known for their excellent results. During these observation sessions the visiting teachers do not interact with the observed teachers or the students. They simply observe and learn.

Before every observation session the observers meet in order to formulate specific objectives for the session. These objectives normally focus on the strong points of the teacher that will be observed. A teacher may, for example, be known for his ability to elicit class participation from his students and the observers will then focus on the ways in which he achieve this feat.

It is important for all role players to understand that these sessions are not evaluation exercises. The visiting teachers do not evaluate their colleague under observation. Instead, their purpose is simply to watch and to learn. Students are briefed on the purpose of the session too. In fact, visiting teachers do not even provide feedback after the session unless the teacher under observation requests it.

After each observation session the visiting teachers meet again. This time the purpose is to share the lessons that each of them has learned and to discuss ways in which those lessons can be implemented in their own class rooms. No criticism is allowed and these discussions are treated as confidential. Visitors also never submit any official report on the results of the observation session.

This easy to implement system has become all the rave. Schools now visit each other and even colleges and universities are starting to see the benefits of observation sessions. It does not require a lot of money and it offers many advantages to both teachers, teachers under observation and, of course, students. Most participants in this system report that they benefited greatly from observing and being observed.

Critics dismiss this system as useless because the observation sessions are too short and they are, according to them, far too informal. They feel that the system should make provision for feedback. Critics also say that teachers under observation are prone to grand standing in order to impress their colleagues and in this way they do not portray the way in which they normally teach.

Observation sessions are supported by numerous teachers. They say that they benefit and if the teachers benefit, those benefits are passed on to their students. The fact that participation is entirely voluntary means that only those that are enthusiastic about personal development participate.




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