Instructional Rounds: Focus on RtI

Recently, Dr. Mary Pruitt, Assistant Principal of Wilson Elementary in Coppell ISD, worked with her campus Instructional Coach, Andi Feille, to design instructional rounds with a focus on Response to Intervention.


The content in Instructional Rounds in Education by City, Elmore, Fiarman, and Teitel, is based on the structure and purpose of medical rounds used by physicians.  The intent of instructional rounds is to develop a shared practice of observing, discussing, and analyzing learning and teaching, based on an identified problem of practice.

Identify Problem of Practice

First, the campus leaders identified a problem of practice, which included these necessary components:

  • focus on the instructional core
  • directly observable
  • actionable
  • systemic
  • high-leveragescreen-shot-2017-01-22-at-3-12-26-pm

Shared by the campus instructional leaders was inconsistency in RtI paperwork (goals, classroom instruction, intervention, and data collection).

This statement, along with informal notes and conversation led to the following two questions to guide the instructional rounds:

  • What kinds of tasks are the learners doing to meet their goals?
  • How does the level of the task correspond with the level of the student?

If improved, the campus leaders were certain it would make a positive impact on student learning.

Assemble Teams

Teams of instructional leaders with a vested interest in the campus were assembled to complete the instructional rounds.  In addition to the campus Principal, Assistant Principal and Instructional Coach, the Librarian, District Curriculum Directors, and Content-Specific Coach were also invited.  This process, including this specific problem of practice, can be replicated with teams of educators.

Prepare Teams

Prior to implementing the instructional rounds, the campus and district leaders assembled to participate were briefed in the process and encouraged to focus on the problem of practice.  In addition, the timing and classroom locations were shared.  Finally, based on the problem of practice, necessary information related to the specific educators whose classrooms were part of the rounds was disseminated.   Since the problem of practice related to the student intervention goals, that information was provided so evidence could be collected related to the alignment of tasks and goals.

Instructional Rounds

Then, it was time to embark upon the instructional rounds.  The two teams brought paper/pencil to take notes related specifically to evidence of the problem of practice.  While in the classrooms, data was collected related to these two questions:

  • What kinds of tasks are the learners doing to meet their goals?
  • How does the level of the task correspond with the level of the student?

Attention was given to the specific learner receiving intervention and the task the learner/educator was completing at that time.  Notes were scribed related to the accuracy of the responses of the learner.

Following the fourth classroom visit for each team, the participants returned to the meeting space.


In a structured format, the campus leaders guided the participants to add a star to their notes that directly related to the problem of practice.  The goal was to find 5-10 pieces of evidence.  Then, the participants transcribed the data to sticky notes and looked for commonalities amongst the data with their team.  Each team shared their findings, again, focused on the problem of practice.


This final step included recommendations made by the teams to the campus leaders.  This is done so in a safe environment, as the campus leaders prioritize and transfer these recommendations into potential actionable steps for the campus.

In The Why Behind RTIAustin Buffum, Mike Mattos and Chris Weber explain the ground in which Response to Intervention is built:

When a student struggles, we assume that we are not teaching him or her correctly; as a result, we turn our attention to finding better ways to meet the student’s specific learning needs.

The importance Dr. Pruitt and Ms. Feille placed on the tasks the learners were completing while receiving intervention highlights evidence of the campus systematic and systemic responsibility to educate all learners.  Blame is not placed on the learner for not achieving success, rather responsibility is claimed by the educators and campus leaders.

Within the Article V: Organizational Transformation of the Visioning Document, we recognize:

V.c The overall quality of the present teaching force is excellent, and most teachers are capable and willing to take on their new designer role if their sense of moral purpose for entering teaching is honored, and if they are provided relevant development opportunities and a climate and conditions that support them.

Ultimately, there is evidence that teachers are respected as key decision makers in their professional growth and are meaningfully engaged in determining a learning pathway that is most likely to result in improved instructional skills and capacities for their role as instructional designer and learning facilitator. Teacher professional development opportunities reflect the same type of instruction and learning expected in the classrooms (flexible in time/access, high learner engagement, choice and autonomy when possible, and that leverage the power of digital media and online learning).

To keep up with the latest at Wilson Elementary, follow the staff and students on Twitter, @gowilsonrangers.  Dr. Mary Pruitt and Andi Feille are also both on Twitter, @mary_pruitt and @andifeille, respectively.


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