Book Review

Instructional Rounds in -Education

A Network Approach to Improving Teaching and Learning

by Elizabeth A. City, Richard F. Elmore, Sarah E. Fiarman and Lee Teitel, Harvard Education Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2009, 216 pp. with index, $49.95 hardcover, $24.95 softcover

Inspired by the medical rounds model used for years by physicians, the authors combine their experiences with professional networks in four states to produce Instructional Rounds in Education. As conceptualized by the authors, the rounds capitalize on the best elements of three approaches to improving student achievement: walkthroughs, professional networks and district improvement strategies.

Instructional Rounds in Education

Conducting rounds is a four-step -process:

•Identifying a concrete problem of practice — the specific aspect of instructional improvement that the school or district is wrestling with;

•Observing and recording descriptive feedback of several classroom lessons for about 20 minutes each by a well-trained group of observers;

•Building a body of evidence by describing and analyzing (but not evaluating or judging) what was seen in the classrooms and predicting what students are learning; and

•Making recommendations for the school’s next steps in addressing the instructional problem.

Most districts struggle with how to tackle the traditional norms of privacy and isolation in teaching, while providing coherent and useful guidance and support for new instructional practices. This book includes practical advice for how leaders can achieve the right mix of consistency and creativity using nonthreatening and collaborative processes.

The authors admit that rounds are no magic bullet to educating all students at high levels, but they seem to have tremendous potential that can’t be ignored.

Reviewed by Ronald S. Thomas, associate director, Center for Leadership in Education, Towson University, Baltimore, Md.