ABPC Puts Innovative Harvard Learning Model to Work in Alabama Schools

The Alabama Best Practices Center, a division of the A+ Education Partnership, is conducting “Instructional Rounds,” at ten schools in Alabama in April and May. The Instructional Round concept was created by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, based on the medical rounds model.

Instructional Rounds are designed to give participants an opportunity to work and learn together and to develop a common understanding of effective instruction. During each “round,” teams of four visit three to four classrooms in where they look for evidence around a specific instructional practice, identified in advance by the host school.

For example, Bob Jones High School’s focus was on “student engagement” with specific emphasis on “how teachers and students use feedback to improve learning.” While conducting their Instructional Round, participants were asked to focus on these four questions:

1. What percentage of students is focused on the assigned academic task?
_______ out of total number _______

2. What evidence is there that students know what they are to be learning and why?

3. What is the evidence that students are actively engaged in accessing and monitoring their learning?

4. To what extent are students using teacher feedback to correct misunderstandings and move their learning forward?

After the classroom visits, participant teams share the evidence collected and begin to identify patterns and contrasts. Teams also develop a series of questions, based on their observations, to pose to host school leaders.

According to the Harvard creators, “The idea behind instructional rounds is that everyone involved is working on their practice, everyone is obligated to be knowledgeable about the common task of instructional improvement, and everyone’s practice should be subject to scrutiny, critique, and improvement.”(Instructional Rounds: A Network Approach to Improving Teaching and Learning, pp. 4-5)

Based on feedback from evaluation forms completed at the conclusion of several Instructional Round exercises, it is clear the process had a meaningful impact on many of our participating teachers. Here is what some had to say:

       “This has been a wonderful experience. I reflected on my practice as
I went through this process. Seeing student engagement from  the
outside really helps me become aware of what really isn’t going on
when I thought it was in my own classroom.”

“Being able to view different practices and focusing on the ‘problem
of practice’ [e.g. the school’s selected area of focus] enabled me to
reflect on my personal goals and objectives.”

“It enabled me to see how I can change/implement strategies in my
own classroom. There are some great teachers and students at this

“I gained an insight into my instructional practices and how I can
improve my teaching strategies.”

“I learned far more doing this process than any other observation or

To read more about Instructional Rounds, visit here.