South Lane School District

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T & L Initiatives

T & L Initiatives

CLASS  Creative Leadership Achieves Student Success

Creative Leadership Achieves Student Success is an initiative funded by Oregon's Chalkboard Project.  The purpose of CLASS is to explore initiatives in four categories that would lead to improvements in student achievements. 
The four categories are:
  • Professional Development
  • Career Paths
  • Compensation
  • Evaluation

The 2011-12 school year was a planning year for South Lane School District.  An Executive Committee drives the direction and vision of work and includes 22 staff members from South Lane School District.

 Essential Skills

South Lane’s Communities of Practice Conduct Instructional Rounds

South Lane School District’s Leadership Team (also known as “Communities of Practice” team) has taken their intense focus on improving instruction to a new level this year. Building on their past experience with “Learning Walks” and “Studio Classrooms” the team has studied, and now are implementing, “Instructional Rounds” based on the work of Elizabeth City, Richard Elmore, Sarah Fiarman, and Lee Teitel. The Learning Walks and Studio experiences laid the groundwork for a more focused strategy for improving instruction that is the centerpiece of Instructional Rounds.

All district and school administrators and teacher leaders have read Instructional Rounds in Education (2009) and are immersed in the rounds process. The focus of instructional rounds is the Instructional Core. The core includes the interaction between three key elements – student engagement, teacher knowledge and skills, and the level of content. The seven principles of the instructional core include:

  1. Increases in student learning occur only as a consequence of improvements in the level of content, teacher’s knowledge and skill, and student engagement.
  2. If you change any single element of the instructional core, you have to change the other two.
  3. If you can’t see it in the core, it’s not there.
  4. Tasks predict performance.
  5. The real accountability system is in the tasks that students are asked to do.
  6. We learn to do things by doing the work.
  7. Description before analysis, analysis before prediction, prediction before evaluation.

There is a lot of work that takes place before the team goes out to observe in classrooms. The team practiced the instructional rounds protocol with videos of classroom lessons. Identifying the “Problem of Practice” is essential to maximize the effectiveness of instructional rounds. The principal, with the help of a district team (superintendent, assistant superintendent and director), identifies their “problem of practice” and clearly describes that problem to the team before instructional rounds begin. The rounds process has teams of 3-4 staff observing in four classrooms for about 20 minutes per observation collecting evidence related to the problem of practice.  

Sample “Problems of Practice”:

  • Are students being asked to do something more than remembering or literal recall?
  • Are students doing more than “sit and get?” What kinds of student engagement, participation, and equity are observed?

The debrief and observation sharing can take several hours. This process is facilitated by one of the district administrators. This phase concludes with every participant sharing what “take away” they will take with them back to their own building to improve their instructional leadership.  

The district administrative team has also read Strategy in Action (2009) by Elizabeth City and Rachel Curtis. The concepts from this book also support the Instructional Rounds process.