Be open Be open


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Be open

  • Be open

  • Be respectful

  • Be descriptive, not judgmental or evaluative

  • Honor confidentiality

  • Listen, listen, listen



Build skills of network members by coming to a common understanding of effective practice and how to support it.

  • Build skills of network members by coming to a common understanding of effective practice and how to support it.

  • Support instructional improvement at the host site by sharing what the network learns and by building skills at the local level.

  • Instructional Rounds in Education, p. 100



Participants today are not from the same district or school



Not limited to Instructional Rounds

  • Not limited to Instructional Rounds

  • Other purposes?

  • Formative Walkthrough

  • Focused Classroom Observation

  • Videotaping

  • Peer Observations



“A problem of practice is something that you care about that would make a difference for student learning if you improved it.”

  • “A problem of practice is something that you care about that would make a difference for student learning if you improved it.”

  • Elmore, et al., Instructional Rounds, p. 102



Focuses on the instructional core

  • Focuses on the instructional core

  • Is directly observable

  • Is actionable

  • Connects to a broader strategy of improvement

  • Is high-leverage and if acted on would make a significant difference for student learning

  • Elmore, et al., p. 102



If teachers intentionally plan lessons that include student engagement strategies, and teacher/student utilization of learning targets to formatively assess student understanding, then achievement and student ownership in learning will increase.

  • If teachers intentionally plan lessons that include student engagement strategies, and teacher/student utilization of learning targets to formatively assess student understanding, then achievement and student ownership in learning will increase.



When you visit our classrooms, we ask that you look for: 

  • When you visit our classrooms, we ask that you look for: 

  • To what extent are teachers and students using learning targets?

  • In what ways are students actively and productively engaged in the learning task or activity?

  • What evidence can you gather related to teachers formatively assessing student learning to inform instructional decisions?



You have been grouped into teams of 3-4 members.

  • You have been grouped into teams of 3-4 members.

  • Each team will visit three classrooms/learning settings—spending 15 minutes in each classroom.

  • You are NOT to evaluate teachers, but instead describe what students and teachers are doing as they interact with content.

  • You will be provided with blank templates to facilitate your note-taking.



Do not identify classrooms by teacher name on your observation form.

  • Do not identify classrooms by teacher name on your observation form.

  • Remember that we are looking for patterns of practice across the classrooms observed as a whole, not focusing on individual classrooms.



Descriptions are evidence-based.

  • Descriptions are evidence-based.

  • Most helpful evidence is fine-grained.

  • Evidence focuses on what is present (not what is missing or absent).





Individually think about what evidence you might see related to the problem of practice. Jot down these ideas.

  • Individually think about what evidence you might see related to the problem of practice. Jot down these ideas.

  • Turn and talk with a partner, exchanging ideas.

  • Be ready to share with whole group.



7. I take actions based on my beliefs

  • 7. I take actions based on my beliefs

  • 6. I adopt beliefs

  • 5. I draw conclusions

  • 4. I make assumptions

  • 3. I add meanings

  • 2. I select “data”

  • 1. I have experiences and make observations that give me data about the world



Strongly held beliefs

  • Strongly held beliefs

  • Past experiences in observing classrooms

  • Seeing through our own lenses; that is, judging someone based on what we would do

  • Culture of “nice-ness”—felt need to praise or say something nice about what we see



“By evidence, we mean descriptive statements of what you see … However, not all forms of evidence are equally valuable … So we speak of evidence as having large, medium, or small grain size – that is, being fuzzy or sharp.” (p. 92)

  • “By evidence, we mean descriptive statements of what you see … However, not all forms of evidence are equally valuable … So we speak of evidence as having large, medium, or small grain size – that is, being fuzzy or sharp.” (p. 92)



Relates to the level of specificity; fine-grained evidence is detailed and specific.

  • Relates to the level of specificity; fine-grained evidence is detailed and specific.

  • Categorizations and generalizations compromise specificity.

  • You’ll have an opportunity to look for patterns during the debriefing.



Students are working in pairs to solve a set of simple equations. One student is pointing to his paper and telling his partner the steps he used in solving the problem. The partner is looking as the speaker points to steps with his pencil. She asks: “Would you go back and explain that part again?”

  • Students are working in pairs to solve a set of simple equations. One student is pointing to his paper and telling his partner the steps he used in solving the problem. The partner is looking as the speaker points to steps with his pencil. She asks: “Would you go back and explain that part again?”



Students are sitting on the carpet off task.

  • Students are sitting on the carpet off task.

  • Students sitting on the carpet:

  • S1: “What are you doing after school today?”

  • Students sitting on the carpet:

  • S1: “Do you understand what we are supposed to do?”

  • S2: Points to the learning target and explains the learning activity



Students are engaged in a reading activity.

  • Students are engaged in a reading activity.

  • Student reads, picks up highlighter, and highlights a word while reading.

  • Students reading aloud:

  • S1: “What does this word mean?”

  • S2: “I don’t know. Let’s look it up!”



Teacher checks frequently for understanding.

  • Teacher checks frequently for understanding.

  • T: “Can you tell me a little bit more about what you learned from this section?”

  • S1: “A simile uses the words ‘like’ or ‘as.’”

  • T: “Yes, that’s part of it. What else do you know?”

  • S1: Looks confused.

  • T: “Tamika, can you add to the definition of simile?”

  • S1: “Yes. It compares two unlike things.”

  • T: [to S1]: “Can you give me an example of a simile?”

  • S1: “He was as fast as a tiger.”



What are you learning? What are you working on?

  • What are you learning? What are you working on?

  • What do you do if you don’t know the answer or you’re stuck?

  • How will you know when you’re finished?

  • How will you know if what you’ve done is good quality?



  • Slow down; be in the moment.

  • Erase expectations.

  • Record what you see, not what you think about what you see.

  • Remember that you cannot record everything that’s going on in the classroom. Just relax, and write down what you can.



After making yourself comfortable in the classroom, complete identifying information.

  • After making yourself comfortable in the classroom, complete identifying information.

  • Note beginning and ending times of observation and times when activities/strategies change.

  • Remember that you are observing so that you can make inferences about the instructional core. It is important to note (1) what students are doing and saying; (2) around what specific content and instructional task; AND (3) what the teacher is doing.





“It is the relationship between the teacher, the student, and the content—not the qualities of any one of them by themselves –that determines the nature of instructional practice, and each corner of the instructional core has its own particular role and resources to bring to the instructional process.”

  • “It is the relationship between the teacher, the student, and the content—not the qualities of any one of them by themselves –that determines the nature of instructional practice, and each corner of the instructional core has its own particular role and resources to bring to the instructional process.”



Listen; don’t interrupt.

  • Listen; don’t interrupt.

  • Ask students questions at appropriate points in the lesson if they are engaged in individual or group learning activities.

  • Do not talk with other network members in classrooms or hallways. Wait until the debrief.



1. Individual Reflection

  • 1. Individual Reflection

      • a. Meaning-making
      • b. Relating descriptive data to problem of practice
  • 2. Team Dialogue

  • 3. Paired Team Sharing

  • 4. Whole Group Dialogue

      • a. Findings with evidence (Patterns and Contrasts)
      • b. Predictions
      • c. Questions for Host School’s Reflection about their Next Level of Work
      • d. Commendations


Read through your notes, placing an asterisk next to descriptions that seem relevant to the problem of practice.

    • Read through your notes, placing an asterisk next to descriptions that seem relevant to the problem of practice.
    • Select 3-4 pieces of fine-grained evidence from each classroom visited, and write each piece of evidence on a separate post-it note—using a different color for each of the three classrooms visited. 


Classroom 1 = Blue

  • Classroom 1 = Blue

  • Classroom 2 = Pink

  • Classroom 3 = Yellow





Each individual should select 3 pieces of evidence to share with their observation team.

    • Each individual should select 3 pieces of evidence to share with their observation team.
    • Designate a facilitator, timekeeper, and an “evidence police-person”—someone who will help the team stick to the evidence by asking such questions as
    • “What’s the evidence that supports that idea?” or
    • “What did you see or hear that make you think that?”


Work silently as you use the “Affinity Mapping” protocol to place post-it notes on easel paper.

    • Work silently as you use the “Affinity Mapping” protocol to place post-it notes on easel paper.
    • Group like-evidence together as you proceed. (Remember you can move both your own and your colleagues’ notes as you seek to create categories related to the school’s POP.)
    • Create additional post-it notes, if appropriate, to add related evidence that you have not yet recorded.


Individuals should place a ? on any note that contains “evidence” that is either

  • Individuals should place a ? on any note that contains “evidence” that is either

    • evaluative,
    • large-grained,
    • unclear, or
    • not related to POP.
    • The ? will serve to “flag” this sticky-note for discussion during the next phase of the process.


The facilitator leads discussion that will result in:

    • The facilitator leads discussion that will result in:
    • Clarification of any proposed “evidence” that has been flagged for discussion
    • Categories that are (a) as discrete and specific as practicable, and (b) related to the POP.
    • Brief (1- to 3 word) titles that define each category as accurately as possible.


Duplicate any sticky note that relates to more than one category so that it can be placed in all relevant categories. This will become important as you move into the identification of patterns of practice.

  • Duplicate any sticky note that relates to more than one category so that it can be placed in all relevant categories. This will become important as you move into the identification of patterns of practice.



The “evidence police person” continues to pose questions about proposed evidence that appears to be either evaluative or too large-grained.

    • The “evidence police person” continues to pose questions about proposed evidence that appears to be either evaluative or too large-grained.


Two (or more) teams will merge as directed by the group facilitators, moving affinity maps to their work area.

  • Two (or more) teams will merge as directed by the group facilitators, moving affinity maps to their work area.

  • Combined teams organize by designating a facilitator (taskmaster!), timekeeper, recorder, and “evidence police-person.”



Paired teams review one another’s evidence displayed on sticky notes both to (a) familiarize themselves with their paired team’s evidence and (b) screen or “vet” the evidence.

  • Paired teams review one another’s evidence displayed on sticky notes both to (a) familiarize themselves with their paired team’s evidence and (b) screen or “vet” the evidence.

  • A red dot should be placed on any evidence that is judgmental, too general, unclear, or not related to the school’s POP.



One team leads by sharing any red-dot evidence identified. Team members ask questions to help partner team clarify and/or drill down so that the statement is more fine-grained and evidence-based.

    • One team leads by sharing any red-dot evidence identified. Team members ask questions to help partner team clarify and/or drill down so that the statement is more fine-grained and evidence-based.
    • Repeat process by focusing on the other team’s red dots.


Identify patterns of practice based upon “vetted” evidence from all classrooms observed.

    • Identify patterns of practice based upon “vetted” evidence from all classrooms observed.
    • Identify contrasts, or outliers.
    • Make predictions, based upon your collective observations.
    • Frame questions for reflection to be presented to host school faculty as they decide upon their “next level of work.”


FORM: A simple, declarative statement summarizing a pattern of evidence across a majority (4/6) of the classrooms observed by the combined team

  • FORM: A simple, declarative statement summarizing a pattern of evidence across a majority (4/6) of the classrooms observed by the combined team

  • CONTENT: Focused on a practice within the instructional core and and its connection to the school’s POP—information that will assist school in its improvement efforts



SYNTAX: Needs to be “stated in such a way as to be accurate and exacting yet able to be heard by the intended audience” (Fowler-Finn, p. 137)

  • SYNTAX: Needs to be “stated in such a way as to be accurate and exacting yet able to be heard by the intended audience” (Fowler-Finn, p. 137)



Teachers moved on after one correct response in 4/6 classrooms.

  • Teachers moved on after one correct response in 4/6 classrooms.

  • A select group of students answered teachers’ questions in 5/6 classrooms.

  • Students worked cooperatively in groups to solve problems in 4/6 classrooms.



Look for practices that the group agrees are important to the POP but observed in less than half of the classrooms.

  • Look for practices that the group agrees are important to the POP but observed in less than half of the classrooms.

  • Contrasts should relate to practices not addressed by the previously identified patterns of practice.



An attempt to establish cause-and-effect between teaching and learning

  • An attempt to establish cause-and-effect between teaching and learning

  • Form link between the patterns observed and school’s determination of the next level of work



“If you were a student at this school and you did everything you were expected to do, what would you know and be able to do (in light of the patterns observed)?”

  • “If you were a student at this school and you did everything you were expected to do, what would you know and be able to do (in light of the patterns observed)?”



Students will take responsibility for and initiate their own learning.

  • Students will take responsibility for and initiate their own learning.

  • Students will walk away with little ability to demonstrate their own thinking without teacher direction.

  • Students will know that if they hesitate, someone else will do the work.



Frame questions that your team believes can assist faculty in reflecting deeply about their own practice as it relates to student learning.

  • Frame questions that your team believes can assist faculty in reflecting deeply about their own practice as it relates to student learning.

  • Focus questions on the host school’s POP.



Designate one member of your paired team to remain at your team’s station to explain findings to others.

  • Designate one member of your paired team to remain at your team’s station to explain findings to others.

  • All other team members will participate in a gallery walk to learn about findings across all classrooms.

  • As you move from your station to another, talk about similarities and differences between and among the 4-Quadrant chart categories.



What evidence-based patterns and contrasts can we provide the host school about their identified problem of practice?

  • What evidence-based patterns and contrasts can we provide the host school about their identified problem of practice?

  • Based upon these evidenced-based patterns, what predictions can we make about student learning?

  • What questions can we provide to focus the host school’s thinking about the “next level of work” related to the POP?



What positive or exciting things did you see and hear today that you would like to commend to the faculty?

  • What positive or exciting things did you see and hear today that you would like to commend to the faculty?

  • What strengths do you believe this school can build on?



Think back on your experience as an observer practicing evidence-based, descriptive observation.

  • Think back on your experience as an observer practicing evidence-based, descriptive observation.

  • What do you believe to be the value in this approach to classroom observation?

  • How might you adapt this type observation for use in your school?




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