Tag Archives: instructional rounds

Learner Agency & the Instructional Core

Learner Agency is widely discussed in education circles with growing numbers of educators producing articles on the benefits of building the capacity of learners.

What is necessary to develop a sense of agency?


Emirbayer, M., & Mische, A.(1998). What is agency? American Journal of Sociology, 103, 9621023.10.1086/ajs.1998.103.issue-4

Three main ideas which enable agency appear to be consistent across all articles I’ve read:

  1. Is in the present- the now
  2. Personal experience and the importance of a wide variety of experience
  3. Setting goals and knowing how to achieve these goal

At my last school we investigated Learner Agency and how we could develop agency within the school program. Equally, around this time I was fortunate to be invited to participate in the Southern Metropolitan Region Principals’ Instructional Rounds program. Whenever discussing learning in schools we referred to the Instructional Core. The Instructional Core is: Student-Teacher-Task and Interaction. Understanding the core and using Instructional Rounds protocols highlighted the importance of  planning to enable agency.

The Instructional Core is very relevant to agency. Learning experiences need to be designed to promote agency.

Agency IB

The above IB document is an excellent place to start as it encourages schools to look at their current practice. When we know where we are, we can plan how we move forward.

Cheers Nina

Next Post: Writing strategies which promote learner agency.



Filed under Uncategorized

Instructional Rounds Principal Group Evaluation 2011.

As part of my Teacher Professional Leave (TPL), my TPL partner and I were asked to organise the evaluation of the Central Peninsula Principal’s Network Instructional Rounds Program. We’ve been part of this group for a year, and were also members of the initial Southern Metropolitan Region Instructional Rounds Pilot Program -2010.

We met with a local principal and a city principal to discuss the format of this evaluation and the information being sought. The evaluation needed to elicit the information required in a short time frame.

We decided to use Survey Monkey and create an on-line questionnaire to be completed by this group of principals. Survey Monkey has many options for structuring questions and is ‘user friendly’. Once a survey is created, a link is provided, and this link is sent out via email using a distribution list (DL).

The information gathered was used to direct this group’s professional development and the meeting structure for 2012. This outcome of this survey was presented and discussed by this group. My TPL partner and I created a PowerPoint for this presentation. The slideshow is posted below.

If you would like to know more about Instructional Rounds Australia (Victoria) please follow this link: http://instructionalroundsineducation.ning.com/

Cheers Nina

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Teacher Professional Leave (TPL) – Instructional Rounds 2010 – 2011: SMR Pilot Program….

As part of my of my Teacher Professional Leave (TPL), which has continued into 2011 due to the nature of the project, my TPL partner and I have produced a number of videos – BYDAVIT Productions. Our Southern Metropolitan Region, Victoria photostory has been available via a link and now has been posted on YouTube for general viewing.

Recently my TPL partner and I were part of a team set up to evaluate the Central Peninsula Principal’s Network – Instructional Round Program. We used SurveyMonkey to create a questionnaire to collect data. This data has been collated and presented as a Powerpoint. Once the data and feedback has been formally presented to the network, we will upload the presentation in the ning, and I will share it in my blog.

Cheers Nina

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Instructional Rounds and me – Teacher Professional Leave: 2010 -2011.

This week I’ll be part of an Instructional Round taking place in a secondary school. To prepare,  I’ve been revisiting my reflections from last year.  In 2010, my Teacher Professional Leave (TPL) partner and I were part of the Southern Metropolitan Region Instructional Rounds Pilot. Move forward one year, and it’s interesting to note that my blog stats record Instructional Rounds as a common search topic. This was not the case a year ago.

To support Instructional Rounds, my TPL partner and I created the following videos. If you haven’t seen them, please take a look.

The following video is not for general viewing on YouTube, but you can view by clicking the following link. This is a photostory of the SMR Instructional Rounds Pilot. It’s already been viewed 361 times which is considerable considering it can only be viewed via the link.

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0wBLIGZaLk

Cheers Nina


Filed under Uncategorized

2010: Me, the Constructivist – teacher – learner, seeker of answers and maker of questions!

Reflecting on my year is important… and 2010 has been special! I knew my year would be busy, but I didn’t realise just how busy. Teacher Professional Leave (TPL) is a ‘once in a career’ opportunity for state teachers in Victoria. My goal was to make the most of this opportunity, teach my students well, trial new ideas and resources, write about them, open my classroom to visiting teachers, continue my writing here and collaborate and connect with educators within and outside my school about best practice.

My TPL partner and I started our project with huge questions. What is ‘best practice’ in teaching and learning? What is the e5 Instructional Model (e5IM)? The second question seems quite simple, but it’s certainly not. Every question we had led to a series of new questions, think ‘mind map’ and you’ll  understand what I mean. What and more importantly how do you plan for, and embed the e5 Instructional Model into classroom practice. What are the implications for whole school and classroom planning? What will this planning look like? Best practice and the e5 IM are not only linked, you really can’t have one without the other.

Our overall goal was to improve our own teacher practice, and to support others through sharing our learning. We were going to ‘be seen’ and be proactive in our quest. It’s a lot easier when you have a partner to work with because you can challenge each other’s ideas, encourage, and when the ‘going gets tough’ support each other. You can also move out of the ‘land of nice’ into the ‘land of challenge’, which we did on many occasions. Conversations around educational philosophy and teaching and learning, are necessary to bring about the ‘thinking’ needed for professional change.

Developing a collegial relationship based on honest discussion is vital, and being honest about your own practice crucial. Being an experienced teacher doesn’t guarantee best practice. Putting on a ‘learner’s hat’ and being a non-judgemental critical friend to yourself is the first step. Being prepared to relearn and throw out some existing practice in order to start again is daunting, but essential.

So what did I understand about engage, explore, explain, elaborate and evaluate? How was I developing these domains within my teaching and learning? What capabilities were developing or evident in my practice, what were the performance indicators, and quality criteria being used, if any? Big questions! Which brings me to the quote below: –

‘Over the long term it is impossible to improve student performance without eventually improving the quality of teaching and learning that occurs in classrooms and schools. (Elmore 2004)

This simply meant that in order to improve the performance of my students, I needed to improve my practice, and to do this I needed to know what best practice is! I needed to know what my teaching philosophy was. I now know that I am indeed a Constructivist!

My TPL partner and I knew we wanted to connect and collaborate with educators locally and globally.  We know best practice doesn’t have borders. Improving teacher practice isn’t isolated to Victoria, Australia. The issues are the same everywhere, and when you start interacting in different forums you realise that educators are seeking the answers to these questions locally, across Australia and globally. This was an opportunity to learn about best practice from across the globe. Interest in the Victorian e5 Instructional Model is significant because there are very few resources which describe teacher practice and identify best teacher practice so well. More questions…How do you know what best teacher practice is without descriptors? Where do you start conversations around teacher practice without direction? Having a model provides focus and direction.

Unpacking the e5 Instructional Model, understanding what the model means to teacher practice and being able to articulate this to colleagues is pivotal to our TPL success criteria. So what did this model mean to educators and how would it be used and introduced in schools? We needed to understand and answer these questions? This is where having a PLN to support us has helped.

Using Ning, a social networking platform to start a Professional Learning Network (PLN) seemed to be where we needed to start. We had no idea of the challenge hosting a PLN would be. Encouraging others to share their ideas is hard, and we’ve found that educators are hesitant about putting their ideas out in a world forum. Collaboration between members of the PLN has been happening, but more via direct messaging basis. However, sharing has taken place, forum questions are discussed and personal research continually shared in the Ning. It has been amazing to see the calibre of educators joining this group globally.

As part of our TPL, my principal organised for us to join the Southern Metropolitan Region of Victoria Australia Instructional Rounds Program. Firstly our role was to be full participants of this professional development, and secondly to report for this group. Our reporting vehicle has been the Ning.

Being part of the Instructional Rounds (IR’s) program, a long with the e5 Instructional Model gave the focus needed to drive our project. Completing a review of current literature led us to find that this was indeed a global school improvement strategy designed to change school culture, the role of the principal and school leadership- sought of a ‘top down model’ that will eventually include teachers in the classroom. The principal is now seen as an Instructional Leader and for some this is a shift in their role.

 ‘It is what teachers think, what teachers do, and what teachers are, at the level of the classroom that ultimately shapes the kind of learning that young people get”. Andy Hargreaves & Michael Fullan

 Being part of the Instructional Rounds Pilot was challenging, interacting with a large group of principals a little intimidating, but this was our issue. The group were very welcoming, and it was interesting to listen to the discussions taking place. This group were knowledgeable, and my respect for role of a school principal has grown out of this experience. It is a complex role requiring the wearing of many ‘hats’.

Another professional development opportunity came my way in 2010. I was being trained as an Ultranet Lead User. Any initiative designed to move teaching and learning into the 21st century will have my full support. Hey, I’ve spent two years skilling myself for this! The Ultranet may have had a few ‘teething problems’, but this was to be expected. Victorian State Education is taking a massive leap forward and I welcome this! I can see the potential, but also recognise using the full capabilities of the Ultranet will take time to embed into classroom practice.   

Finally, because this post is becoming increasingly long, I need to say that my blog is important to me; it’s where I reflect, and share my practice with others. I still read back and even think about deleting some posts, but it’s a record of my changing practice as well. I write about the ‘work I do’ as a classroom teacher, and as a learner.

Thank you for visiting this space, sharing with me, emailing and leaving comments. It always amazes me how many people visit this space. Finally, I wish all a safe, happy and prosperous 2011.

Cheers Nina

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Instructional Rounds: My 4th Round with a twist… My Reflection!

My TPL partner and I recently participated in our 4th Instructional Round with a twist!

Our school was selected for a Round by our local Principal’s Network. This was this group’s first Instructional Round, and the outcome of this experience would direct this group’s professional direction as a network for 2011. The success of Rounds will also eventually lead to teachers being involved in Rounds.

I believe when this happens, classroom practice will improve exponentially. But everything has to start from somewhere!

Preparing our staff for an Instructional Round was crucial. Explaining the purpose, process and unique protocols of the strategy was vital. Teacher’s need to willingly ‘open their classrooms’ and to do this they need to know that this is not about individual teacher assessment, but about whole school improvement.

To prepare our staff we presented Rounds at a staff meeting. Our slideshow is uploaded here for you to view. The background certainly wasn’t dark when projected. We also created two videos to introduce the process. These are available for use by becoming a member  of the Instructional Rounds – e5 Instructional Model – Best Practice ‘ning’.  Our staff were involved in writing the ‘problem of practice’ and asked, what data they wanted collected on their behalf?

At the end of our presentation staff were asked to reflect, and if they would rather not be included in this Round to inform our principal. We have Casual Relief Teachers working in our school and it would be fully understandable if they had chosen not to be part of this Round. The feedback we received was that not one teacher indicated they didn’t want to be involved. In fact, there was an incredible supportive collegiate feeling in our school. Everyone wanted in!

I think my TPL partner, and my passion for Rounds certainly helped.  We made it clear that we were going to be in our classrooms and that we wouldn’t expect anyone to do what we weren’t prepared to do ourselves.

Rounds Experience Reflection.

How did this work?

I had three groups of five principals visit my classroom between 9am and 11am. When the Round classroom observations were finished we joined this group of 30 principals, Regional Network Leaders and our Assistant Regional Director for the Rounds’ Observation Debrief. The groups were structured in a way that we did not review data collected by principals who observed in our classrooms.

Our staff will be debriefed as part of the process soon, and I believe my school will greatly benefit from the data collected.

One staff member gave me the following feedback: She thought being part of the Round was great because it really made her reflect and I shared this feedback with the group.

I understand exactly what she’s saying because I’ve been reflecting too. I hope that others also see me as a reflective practitioner’ and learner. Probably my biggest ‘hope’ as an educator!

Cheers Nina

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Reflection: Instructional Rounds – It’s Important!

Thanks for the emails and sharing a few of your experiences with me. I’ve been asked to share a reflection here, and I have reflected! Yesterday when presenting a short talk to a group of principals, I had an attack of nerves. Something that I hadn’t experienced for a long time. I worked through it and ‘got going’, but was perplexed as to why and then? After talking to my sister who does a lot of speaking, she informed me that some people would rather die than speak publicly. Comforting – not really!

She then said, ‘was the stuff you were talking about important to you’. Yes! That was it… Instructional Rounds is important. The Instructional Rounds ning is important.

Why? My motivation is that classroom teachers will be involved in Instructional Rounds. Having been involved as a classroom teacher has been a steep learning curve and probably the best professional development I’ve had, and by that I mean, it has had a direct impact on my teaching. 

Yesterday, I shared with a group of principals that the by-product of Instructional Rounds  for me is, that it has given me the observation skills to be my own non-judgemental critical friend. As a result, my teaching practice has changed and improved significantly. . . and this will continue. 

For me it has also been around the following: If a student did everything I asked them to, what would they know? Good question!

Cheers Nina

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Reflecting on a Teacher’s Week – Instructional Rounds & Me!

Today I joined a large group of principals being introduced to Instructional Rounds. I’ve been fortunate to have already completed this training once before. It amazes me how when being presented the same information by a different presenter, your understanding deepens. As I can only take in a certain amount of information in one day before it goes to ‘spam’, completing this training was good for me. As I’m a constructivist, the quote from Piaget below is very applicable. I certainly was structuring and re-structuring my knowledge all day.

”I am a constructivist. Knowledge is not ready made. Each of us is continually creating our own knowledge. We are continually organizing what we know, structuring and re-structuring our knowledge.” Piaget

As I write here to reflect on my learning, I’ll share what I’ve learnt this week. I learnt how to use ‘Windows Movie Maker’ properly, deepened my understanding of content planning for literacy by working with a team  and attended Instructional Rounds training.

At the end of a very long day, my Teacher Professional Leave partner and I delivered a short talk on tools available for ‘network’ sharing. I was quite nervous at the beginning – one of my demons I thought I’d rid myself of came back. It was very nice of a couple of people to say they didn’t notice, but I know they did!  However, it may be nice for anyone who visits this space and has had the same experience, that you are not alone. I guess it’s like riding that horse, I’ll have to get back on and do it again or ….maybe not!

I’ve uploaded the video we created for schools to use when introducing Instructional Rounds to their staff. This is our very first video and we’re pretty pleased with our product. Not perfect, but a milestone no less!

One very pleasing outcome of today is that the Instructional Rounds ning will be upgraded. This will enable new members to join. We have 19 educators waiting to be accepted and others who visited and realised the membership was full. Anybody reading this who would like to join, keep visiting.

Cheers Nina

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Learning to See, Unlearning to Judge – Instructional Rounds: The ‘By-Product’ and ‘Inner-Think’!

I’m not surprised my posts on Instructional Rounds are being read. Since writing this I’ve been a classroom teacher being visited as part of the Rounds process at my previous school and visited many classrooms myself. Either experiences are very valuable for a teacher.

Today was my last day as a member of an Instructional Rounds Pilot group. The pilot group was the Southern Metropolitan Region (Victoria, Australia) principals.

It’s been a great experience and has given me an enormous amount to reflect upon in terms of my own practice. I have been very fortunate to be involved in this pilot, and as a classroom teacher, it’s the by-product of Rounds that has made me have aninner-think’ into my own practice.

Instructional Rounds follows a strict set of protocols. Look down, not up! It is about the practice not the teacher.

Identification of a ‘Problem of Practice’ by a school.

The term ‘Problem’ explained – not negative

The term:’ Problem’ – refers to a scientific problem to observe

‘Problem’ is a neutral term.

The Problem of Practice – must:

Focuses on the Instructional Core (student- teacher – content: Interaction)

Be observable

Be actionable

Connects to a broader strategy

Be high-leverage: able to make significant difference

Is not too vague, not too specific – doesn’t stop open- ended evidence

Learning to see, Unlearning to judge: Observations must be non-judgemental

“The discipline of description is the core practice on which rounds are based….” (Elmore)

Describe what you see

Be specific (fine-grained)

Pay attention to the instructional core (teacher, student, content)

Evidence must be related to the problem of practice

Stay in the descriptive mode; look down – not up, focus on students, not the teacher

 The By-Product & Inner-think!

 Predicted Next Level of Practice

Prompt: Describe what it would look like if the school had solved the Problem of Practice?

What would:

Teachers be doing?

Students be doing?

What would the tasks look like?

It’s the discussions around the ‘Predicted Next Level of Practice’ that I have reflected on deeply. When visiting my classroom what would be observed? What am I doing? What are my student’s doing? What do my tasks look like? When planning, I’m now reflecting on these questions, making changes and feel as a result my own practice has improved. This is the by-product and why I believe it is essential that classroom teachers, regardless of experience need to be included in future Rounds.

If you get an opportunity to be part of an Instructional Round or are in a school where a Round is taking place, please embrace Rounds. I’ve been the observer this time, but I’m sure in the not so distant future my practice will be observed too.

Cheers Nina


Filed under Uncategorized

A Day Out with the Big Kids: Instructional Rounds

I spent today with a large group of principals brought together to learn about Instructional Rounds. One of my Preps told me their ‘head was full’ earlier this year and today I can relate to this comment… It was a real privilege to be able to be a part of this group and I say this in jest… ‘to listen to secret Principal business’.

I was really delighted to listen to the reflections, which often came back to understanding and respecting a classroom teacher’s feelings about being observed. One participant said to me, ‘I haven’t forgotten about when I was in a classroom’.

What do you know about Instructional Rounds?

This is a very quick post to draw your attention to a ‘ning’ we set up to collaborate and discuss Instructional Rounds and the E5 Instructional Model. My colleague and I are committed to sharing our journey with all and removing any fear educators have about this model. If you would like to learn more about Instructional Rounds and the E5 Instructional Model and follow our journey, here is the link.


You are most welcome to join. At present, the ‘ning’ is not private, but this may change in the future. I must say thank you to the presenters Terry and Mark for a terrific day!

Cheers Nina

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized