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This Learning Centre provides support and supplementary resources for the HOW2 web app. For further details on HOW2s go to the home page or contact us to arrange a demonstration.

Instructional Rounds

Instructional Rounds centres around observing teaching, not teachers. It brings a new level of rigour to observations from its medical origins. HOW2s assist in providing teachers with choices for their theories of action: the plans to address the learning needs of their students.

Identify Targets

Set Up: Join three other departments to start an Instructional Rounds practice. Each department contributes three teachers to participate 

Problem of Practice: Assign one of the departments to become the first focus of the rounds. If it’s your department, ask the teachers who will be observed to identify what’s called a problem of practice: an aspect of their students’ learning they’d like to improve — something they haven’t managed to do so far. 

Match to HOW2s

Theory of Action: Next, ask them to work out a plan to meet their students’ learning needs. This plan is called a theory of action and should be written in a series of if/then statements in order to show a clear causal link between their teaching and their students’ improved learning. The teachers now find HOW2s that best fits their theory of action plan. 

Learn HOW2 Steps

Communicate to Observers: The department teachers being observed communicate their problem of practice, theory of action and other departmental background information to your rounds colleagues. While you study their material, they get to grips with their chosen HOW2s, making any necessary adaptations to best fit their classes. 

Adapt to Context

Organise Observation Rota: You and your department colleagues, along with colleagues from the other two departments (9 teachers in all), form three teams of three (one teacher from each department in a group). Together, you plan to visit a rotation of three classes for around 20 minutes each. 

Apply to Teaching

Observations: During your observation, follow these protocols. 

– No talking among yourselves 
– Look down (at students), not up (at teachers) 
– Decide beforehand what to look for 
– Take notes 
– Make your observations descriptive. 

Don’t note what you think is missing. Or what you like, approve or, or not. Only note behaviours. 

Review Impact

Post Up Your Sticky Notes: After all the classroom observations, meet with all your observation colleagues from the other groups, for a debrief session. 

Once gathered together in one room, stay in your observation groups to work together for the first part. In your group take turns to share your descriptions of what you observed. Make sure no evaluations, or vague platitudes, creep in. Working individually, write up one description per sticky note. Then one person at a time, read out your sticky note as you post it on the wall. Answer any clarifying question or request for specificity from your colleagues. 

Group the Sticky Notes: When all the stickies are on the wall and all questions answered, start to organise them, collaboratively, into groups — an Affinity Diagram. Then label the groups of stickies that emerge. 

Plot the Sticky Notes: Now join the other groups of observers and compare each other’s Affinity Diagrams (or alternative way of organising the stickies). Look for patterns, similarities and differences. Building on this survey, work with the whole group to complete a set four-quadrant grid 

Your Learning: Lastly for this analysis stage, back in your observing groups, discuss what each of you learned, what patterns you saw and what you might be wondering 

Predict Student Learning: Again working in your observing group, ask yourself, If I were a student in these classes and did what I was requested, what would I know and be able to do?”. Then share your answers and probe your colleagues’ responses. The aim is to create a crystal clear causal link between teaching and the learning outcomes (as you witnessed). 

Suggested Improvements: With your built-up understanding of what you observed, work as a whole group to make conclusions of how the teaching could have been amended to improve the students’ learning. You can address this at three time scales: next week, next month, next year.

Improve Theory of Action: Finally, go back to the original theories of action, and with your conclusions clearly in mind, improve them. In particular, note where there was a reliance on hope in reaching the intended student learning. Identify these gaps in planning and add the missing components, forming stronger causal links between the teaching and the student learning. 

You have completed the first round. Communicate your thinking to the observed teachers, as a point of interest, not as a recommendation. 

Identify Targets

Move on to next department: You are ready to start the second round on the next department. Repeat the same steps and continue until all four departments have been observed. 


Lesson Observations

Issuing observation grades and targets, on its own, doesn’t improve the quality of teaching. Providing teachers with a host of personalised and practical solutions to use immediately, does. HOW2s fulfill this role.

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