Adele Harrison Middle School served as a model educational institution earlier this week as Dr. Richard Elmore came for a visit. In addition to being Professor of Education at Harvard University, Elmore is also the developer of the Instructional Rounds in Education program. He has been working with Louann Carlomagno’s superintendent’s work group which has been practicing rounds for more than a year in Napa, Petaluma and West County schools.
Educational rounds are a type of professional development model whereby teams of educators conduct classroom visits with a focus on analyzing student learning and the conditions that enhance its development. With Adele Harrison as the tableau, 36 administrators from Sonoma, Napa, Berkeley, Benicia and Martinez came together and fanned out through the school to practice what they’d learned from Elmore.
“We created a common experience by watching lessons being presented and, more importantly, watching students learn. The goal is not to watch what the teachers are doing but rather, to watch students. The level of challenge associated with the tasks being performed will tell you what the student is doing as they complete that task. Basically the task predicts performance,” said Lynn Fitzpatrick, director of curriculum and instruction for the Sonoma Valley Unified School District. Fitzpatrick further said that the process relies on the connection between teaching and learning and is deliberately structured to keep people from leaping to judgments.
From here, the district is encouraging other schools to use this model. Flowery Principal Esmeralda Mosley has taken the initiative at her school and sent teachers rather than administrators to watch the practice session at Adele. She is leading her teachers through instructional rounds at her school.
“This is about the professional conversations that come out of the common experience of teaching. It is something from which we can all benefit,” said Fitzpatrick.