October 27-28 a group of around 30 superintendents from across the state will be visiting Indianola to participate in Instructional Rounds. These superintendents are trained as facilitators of  the Instructional Rounds process and lead visits to schools within their Area Education Agency boundaries throughout the school year.

Instructional Rounds are based on the medical rounds concept. I’m sure you have seen various prime time TV shows, in which a group of doctors comes to the patient to discuss symptoms and offer a diagnosis. Instructional Rounds is a process by which school leaders can observe and discuss what they have seen in a school setting. While schools aren’t like a sick patient, the host school identifies a “problem of practice,” an area where the desired results aren’t happening. This problem of practice guides and focuses the classroom observations that take place.

Instructional Rounds in Iowa are modeled on research done by Dr. Richard Elmore and Dr. Liz City of Harvard. The Harvard connection is strong, with people from Harvard coming to Iowa each spring to work with Iowa educational leaders and Iowa leaders traveling to Harvard for training as well.

Instructional Rounds provide a great opportunity for superintendents and other school leaders to examine and reflect upon practices in our schools. They also provide the host district with a wealth of observational data, an opportunity to reflect, and suggestions for ways to address areas of concern. Indianola CSD will conduct internal rounds, where district administrators visit classrooms in different buildings. We also will participate in the Heartland AEA Network, visiting other school districts, as well as hosting visits. This is important work that focuses on the “instructional core,” which includes the student, teacher, and content (with a focus on the tasks students are being asked to complete).