Empowering teachers to lead pedagogical improvement: A six-month engagement with Quality Teaching Rounds

Year: 2016

Author: Bowe, Julie

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

With growing attention globally to the relationship between quality teaching and student performance comes the danger of reducing an incredibly complex problem to the simple algorithm of fixing teachers to fix student performance. At the heart of contemporary approaches to developing teaching and learning is the turn towards collaborative models of professional development. In particular, approaches that attempt to intentionally construct a professional culture through the adoption of evidence-based practices, such as lesson study and instructional rounds (Goodwin & Del Prete, 2015; Lee, 2015), are gaining traction. In this paper, I argue that such approaches have given inadequate attention to the development of a shared knowledge base and shared language among teachers from which to begin the work of improving teaching and learning. Drawing on interviews with 27 teachers from four schools who completed a six month engagement with a collaborative professional development model called ‘Quality Teaching Rounds’ (QT Rounds), this paper focuses on: (1) teachers’ reports of the impact of ‘macro’ practices -- such as observations of teachers’ classrooms, use of reflective dialogue, and sustained time investment -- that have become widely accepted principles of effective professional development (Desimone, 2009); and (2) emergent themes that indicate the ‘micro’ ways in which QT Rounds specifically supported or constrained teachers’ professional learning.Teachers reported that the direction and support provided by the QT framework and QT Rounds model enabled them to collaborate effectively within a relatively short period of time. I argue that this combination of providing teachers with knowledge and language systems for assessing teaching and learning, together with supportive mechanisms for observing and analyzing each other’s classroom practice, ensured productive and shared professional learning. Teaching in front of peers and being guided by the QT framework in the collaborative analysis of classroom practice enabled the teachers to challenge their own and each other’s assumptions, build deeper understanding of teaching and learning, refine their classroom practice, and describe, evaluate, and communicate the productive value of their efforts. Overall, this analysis indicates strong potential for enhancing the quality of teaching through QT Rounds and empowering teachers to lead school improvement (King & Newmann, 2004) within a productive teaching culture. Desimone, L. M. (2009). Improving impact studies of teachers’ professional development: Toward better conceptualizations and measures. Educational Researcher, 38(3), 181-199.Goodwin, A. L., Del Prete, T., Reagan, E. M., & Roegman, R. (2015). A closer look at the practice and impact of “rounds”. International Journal of Educational Research, 73, 37-43.King, M. B., & Newmann, F. M. (2004). Key Link. Successful Professional Development Must Consider School Capacity. Journal of Staff Development,25(1), 26-30.Kim-Eng Lee, C. (2015). Examining education rounds through the lens of lesson study. International Journal of Educational Research, 73, 100-106.