The Best of Us S1/E11: Collaborative Instructional Rounds for Real-Time Classroom Growth, with Matt Griesinger

It’s inarguable that teachers are experts on what their students need. So how can school administrators leverage that expertise to make professional learning collaborative rather than top-down?

In this episode of The Best of Us, we speak with Matt Griesinger, Assistant Principal of Northwest Education Services Career Tech and author of the recent article “How Administrators Can Make Professional Learning More Collaborative.”

Matt's approach to professional learning is grounded in teacher efficacy, collaboration, and actionable feedback. He walks us through the nitty-gritty of the three-tiered peer learning process that transformed North Ed’s PD landscape, plus administrators’ role in giving educators a voice in their own learning, and practical strategies for collecting expertise already present in the school building.

We also cover non-evaluative instructional rounds as a core part of school culture, and the possibilities that spring up when teachers learn from each other's classrooms.

Listen now:


Jeremy Rogoff

Before we jump into the the specifics of the article and what you've done to make professional learning more collaborative, I'd love for you to just set the stage a little bit. Talk a little bit about your school setting and some of the challenges and opportunities that this gives you when it comes to thinking about teacher and educator learning.

Matt Griesinger

Yeah. Happy to. So I am an assistant principal in a career and tech ed building... we have roughly 1100 students, but they come from 16 area school districts in our region and about six charter private schools. We have 21 different program offerings, so ranging all the way from like a pre-engineering class to your traditional CTE classes, precision machining, auto body construction trades.

But, you know, the really cool thing about our center is we've got 11th and 12th graders from such a wide range of northern Michigan. So there's some students who can walk here or there's other students who might need to be on a bus one way for an hour and a half to get here for the program that they see themselves [in].

They [might] see themselves becoming an electrician, and so they come here for our electrician trade program. What that also means is we are able to embed English and math instruction that's specific to each program for the students. So when you're in our welding class, you're not just getting the basic Algebra 2 that you're going to get at a comprehensive high school.

Instead, it's Algebra 2 as it relates to the welding profession. And then those classes are co-taught with a highly qualified math instructor as well as the welding instructor. And it goes the same way for our early education program and our business careers program. But what that means too is we have such a wide range of expertise in our instructors as well as a wide range of needs.

So when we kicked off what we thought professional learning would look like this year, we really wanted to push that teacher efficacy piece and give teachers a voice, because they know best what they personally need, and there's some coaching along the way that it takes. At the end of the day, we want to make sure that we're providing that individualized support for teachers while still maintaining a professional learning atmosphere at our school.

Jeremy Rogoff

Yeah, it kind of forces you to be able to differentiate learning because all of your educators are coming in with such different skill sets.

Matt Griesinger

Right. We have five English instructors and we have three math instructors, but that's where it tops out. We don't have a science department like a typical high school might, but we do have a welding instructor and we do have a power equipment instructor... it makes the work hard,

but when it when it turns out, the product is really, really cool.

Jeremy Rogoff

Yeah. So I just want to clarify for listeners, it sounds like the the actual instructional model you have is a highly qualified content-specific educator as well as a highly qualified career and technical educator, right?

Matt Griesinger

Correct. So. So depending on the program, students are earning credit in their field as well as math or English. We have a couple of programs that get both math and English, and then they go to their home school and that's where they get their performing arts.

Jeremy Rogoff

Okay, so let's dive a little bit into the article. You wrote something at the beginning that I thought was really provocative, so I'm just going to read it. You said “Teachers don't need a savior and they certainly don't need to be told what to do from the newest and most exciting bestseller. In fact, teachers know what their students need, and it's the job of administrators, coaches and instructional leaders to facilitate the collection of teachers expertise already present in the school building to guide staff as they take back the agency of their own professional learning.” That was an incredibly powerful way to start the article.

Where did that come from?

Matt Griesinger

I was a classroom teacher for eight years and I love the the newest research and I love the newest bestseller that's out there. But what I came to find, as well as with my colleagues, was there were always pieces and parts of the new research, or little pieces and parts of this really cool book that everyone's reading, but all of it needed to be tailored to what my students needed at that specific time. What the joke always was that these books are wonderful, but they don't take into account that it's the Friday before Homecoming.

So, yes, this this instructional move works or this new idea works, but someone's boyfriend just broke up with them and it's homecoming and all of those. There's so much complexity to being in in the classroom. And then we hear it all the time that the answers are in the room or the answers are in the building. And I firmly believe that there are fantastic teachers everywhere.

And I'm partial to my school. There are fantastic teachers in this building, and I think it would be a disservice to say, we're just going to grab whatever's at the top of the New York Times bestseller list in education and that's going to be our book study. Nothing against book studies, but if we truly believe the answer’s in the room, let's manipulate the world around us a little bit to get those answers out.

Jeremy Rogoff

So that kind of makes your role like the master curator of teachers’ knowledge and skill sets. I'm curious, how do you as an assistant principal facilitate the collection of expertise to guide the professional learning in your school?

Matt Griesinger

The first word that pops to mind is imperfectly. I'm not I'm not the expert, but I think that part of my job... is to see if I can move pieces and parts. And that's not just teachers. That might be a schedule or it might be the length of a meeting or it might be getting teachers to see each other or bringing teachers in from the outside.

My role is to move the puzzle pieces and hope that it creates a picture for others. Because at the end of the day, although I'm an instructional leader like all of us are, I'm not providing that construction trades instruction today. And so it's great if I have an idea of an instructional strategy, but it's really not all that helpful to students.

So if I can move some pieces and hopes that the professionals in the room are able to... whether it's coming to a consensus or coming up with new ideas or coming up with some collaborative pieces, then I've done that.

Jeremy Rogoff

I think back to when I was an educator. I taught high school algebra, but I would go into the classroom of a high school history teacher to look at how she interacted with students, the types of relationships that she built with students. And the hardest part of that for me was just finding time in my schedule to do it.

And it sounds like you have created really intentional structures to make it possible for teachers to see the best in each other. And you talk in the article about facilitating a peer learning process.

Matt Griesinger

Yeah. So this summer I reached out to Dr. Stefanie Reinhorn, who comes from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and really linked into their instructional rounds research back from 2009. I had a Google meet with her and just chatted with her about how she might see a similar process for instructional rounds work at a building level.

And it kind of took off from there. So she definitely gave some great ideas. Like like anything, you've got to tweak it to fit where you are. There's not a lot of research out there about what peer learning looks like in a career and tech setting, which would be the same as as any kind of unique setting.

And so what what we've really been focused on is the core idea of [how] teachers improve when they talk about teaching and watch other people teach. And so, again, moving those parts, it's just kind of become that master schedule of figuring out what works best, figuring out what time works best to move 36 different teachers about the building so that they can not only watch instruction, but then be watched and then debrief at the following day.

But it all and it looks different, right? It looks different every time because we do it as best as we can and then realize that this step A actually didn't work. We needed to do something different. And so it's this constant model that's moving, but at the core of it is teachers need a voice in their own learning. The way that we're going to try to squeeze all that information out of teachers is by getting them to watch each other.

So it's a cumbersome process because there's always something going on, right? Someone has a guest speaker coming in, somebody is out on a field trip with their students. We have a sending school who has a pep rally and so 20% of our students are gone that day. Like all of those pieces are what I love as an assistant principal.

I'm so close to it as like I'm as close as I can possibly be to those problems and finding the solutions. But at the end of the day, if we can get teachers watching teachers and then talking about what they saw, not evaluative, not “I'm going to fix it,” but just watching instruction, it's going it's going to get better.

It might not happen immediately, but -- zooming out to see the forest. Like if we can if we can watch each other and we can talk about it and see if we can problem solve, then we're going to improve instruction for our students.

Jeremy Rogoff

It's such a simple idea that teachers watching teachers and talking about teaching makes teachers better. But it's such a, like you said, a complex thing to put into practice when you have so many different moving pieces. So that brings to mind the system, like how are you managing the complexity of all of the different moving pieces of teacher schedules, of student schedules, of curriculum, to make sure that teachers are getting into each other's classrooms?

Matt Griesinger

So I'm very, very lucky that I have an assistant superintendent who put this work at near the top of the list of things that we care about. So it is a sacred piece simply because instructional rounds, or building based rounds that we're calling, it is the the filter through which all of our professional learning flows. So my bosses recognize that if we're going to provide great professional learning, we've got to make sure we do it in such a way that there's a process.

So first step is that it is valued and it's valued by those who are higher than me. But in terms of the actual facilitation of it, that's on my staff because they have jumped into it and said, okay, we are we're willing to give up an hour of our instruction once every two months and use that hour to go see three different classrooms for 20 minutes.

And we also have a staff with paraprofessionals in our building who are able to not just cover classes -- like we have a precision machining paraprofessional who is a machinist. And so our students aren't losing an hour of instruction. We're able to embrace it as a staff. And so it's one thing for an assistant principal to be pushing this idea, but I would have got nowhere if the 36 teachers said no.

They have that growth mindset. They know that very simple phrase that teachers get better when they watch teachers and talk about teaching. Obviously, it's an undersell, right? There's way more complexity to that. But I get nowhere if there's no buy-in from staff.

Jeremy Rogoff

To pull out some of the key themes that you talked about. There's the administrative buy-in to this being a process, something that's going to be core to our professional learning. Then there's the actual staff, your educators who believe in the process as something that will help them improve. And so they take time out of their instruction to to make this possible.

The other piece you mentioned is that you have real high-quality paraprofessionals who can step in. So it's not as if you're losing instruction, but you're more just changing who the instructor is for an hour every so often. And then lastly, there's the operational piece, which I want to go back to. So the teachers, it sounds like they buy into it.

They believe that it's something they should be doing. Then how are they actually getting into each other's classrooms? How are they deciding like, okay, I'm going to use this time during this day to go observe other teachers?

Matt Griesinger

It's a specific day. We do it on Tuesday because we have professional development time on Wednesday mornings. So our whole day Tuesday is spent split between morning and afternoon. So either you are teaching in the morning and then in the afternoon going out and seeing three different classrooms for an hour, or vice versa.

But it's a true matrix that we create and we determine groups of 3 to 4 teachers and then we determine which classrooms they're going to go see. You have to offset that, right? Because the people who are going out and watching people in the morning then are in their classrooms in the PM and the people who then were teaching

are coming to watch them. We've done it multiple ways, right? We've done it very targeted and said “We think this group of teachers would benefit from seeing these three classrooms.” We've also I'd argue most effectively used it where we try to create, as best as we can as administrators, a really broad range of things. So it’s great to see welding and machining and collision repair, all right next to each other, they’re three fantastic classes.

[But] it's been more effective when we can get someone to see not only welding, but then also go see a film class and kind of get the scope of the building and the feedback from the teachers when we do it that way, which is very, very deliberate. It’s been kind of, “Wow, I didn't know that this happened in our building” because they're so focused on what's happening in their classroom.

And so really pushing that has been really effective and it's again, one of those things where because we don't have a science department, because I've seen other schools do it really effectively where science teachers go watch science teachers. We don't have that. And so what we get is 20 minutes right in a row where you're going to see three specific classrooms. All teachers are doing are gathering evidence when they're going and watching.

They're just writing down what they see in there. The following morning, we run them through a debriefing process that that asks them to see if they can come up with trends, predictions, ideas for what all of these instructional strategies that we're working on, ideas for how that is actually impacting students. And then we can come at it from a data perspective when we want to talk about achievement.

But all of those debriefing pieces only work if we're very, very careful about where we're sending teachers, at what times on what day. Yeah. I'm somebody who [focuses on] the collection of data. This comes from an instructional lens, but [it’s important to limit] the amount of time between the collection of data and the use of data.

I love when I can see a teacher collect data -- whether it's some kind of electronic platform or whether it's a quick formative piece. And then they use that data to organize students right away. That always feels more meaningful. And so if we can do rounds on a Tuesday and come in at eight in the morning on a Wednesday, it's just a really rich discussion because it was the last thing that teachers saw.

But of course cumbersome to read because we're in northern Michigan, so we get snow days. So like all of those things kind of work possibly against you. But boy, when the when the machine is firing and it all works, it's a really, really cool process.

Jeremy Rogoff

Yeah. I think what's so powerful is you just started this this year, right? Like you you had this visit last summer. You spent some time thinking about what it could look like. And it's not perfect, but I imagine you're learning a ton throughout the kind of iterative, iterative process of making instructional around such a core part of your culture.

Matt Griesinger

Right? And instructional rounds is adjusted, obviously like it comes out of Harvard that that research and that book is fantastic and they train cohorts of people. I think their next cohort is spring of 2’4 where they're going to write -- you go to campus and you bring your group and figure out how to do instructional rounds. So it existed in northern Michigan, seven or eight years ago, and then like a lot of things, had a wave where the next thing came in.

And so there are a lot of people who have engaged in the traditional instructional rounds in our region, a lot of principals in our different districts. So they they know it and they've done it. The issue is instructional rounds. It is built for people to descend upon a building, see instruction, come up with ideas, come up with patterns, predictions, ideas for next level of of work and some professional learning topics and then leave and never see where that goes.

So what then? We're taking the ideas that are that are critical to what rounds are, right? The idea that you know, it's non evaluative, it's about problem solving, not problem finding. The observer is the learner, not the expert. Right? That's all textbook stuff and it's great. But all of the wrinkles of what our center does. You can insert my school for your school, right.

Like all of the unique things that make your school your school. Because what we're doing is, we don't descend upon a building and leave. This is our home. So you have people watching colleagues and best friends and, you know, parents of students who also teach, like all of those things that really make it cool is just a step away from, okay, I work in a different district.

I'm going to come watch instruction, give you ideas and leave. We watch, give ideas and stay. So it's it's certainly a work in progress. I know no one loves the metaphor of of building the plane while you're flying it, because that's not actually how things work effectively. It does feel that way sometimes... probably for every three things I learn not to do, I get one thing of, “Oh yeah, that really, really worked.”

But again, I am really lucky to have staff that have bought into the process and are willing to work through those bumps.

Jeremy Rogoff

So going to that buy in piece because you said it was something that staff bought into, that doesn't happen out of thin air. What did you do to establish that buy in among your staff for them to believe, okay, this is something worth my time.

Matt Griesinger

So it's all based around -- we use the same language from the textbook, right? It's based around the idea of a problem of practice. You can also call it your instructional focus. So we use common competency-based grading. It's standards based because that makes a ton of sense for the world of career in that nobody comes in to our electrician classes knowing how to be an electrician. We don't want to punish students for coming in in year one and not knowing how to wire a house, because they're not supposed to know how to wire a house, but so that whole competency-based piece is critical to what we do.

So as as the year started off with our teachers, with our leadership team, and we were really trying to hone in on what we wanted to work on and the critical pieces this year for what what teachers thought they needed some ideas for and some help with. It was all teacher voice to start. So the problem practice that we work with around, you know, grouping students based on their their need and based on data that we have and and also engaging students in such a way that it also challenges them.

All of those things come from our teachers. So things are happening, I'd say with the staff not to the staff, as is often how I how I like to portray it, because it runs through staff. So as as administrators, we're not just saying, “Here's the magic wand, we know exactly how to fix any problems that we're having with competency based instruction.”

And instead it all comes from the teachers. So I don't think there's like a particular moment I can point to where everyone on staff said, Yes, I love this, but the process, whether you call it instructional rounds or not, all that I've done is facilitate a process for teachers to improve. It's not perfect and it's going to continue to change as as I learn more about it.

But it came through that initial filter of, Hey, here's what we believe as a building and what has worked for us around instruction and career tech ed. Now, how do you think we can make it better? Okay, let's work on that. Okay? Let's watch each other. Work on that. Okay. Let's come up with our next steps. Now that we've worked on that, call it instructional rounds, call it building based rounds, walkthroughs, whatever you want to call it.

Our teachers decided what they wanted to work on, and then we facilitate a process so that they could practice it and watch others practice.

Jeremy Rogoff

It's so analogous to what good teaching of students looks like. And also part of the challenge of teaching is you have to hand over responsibility and hand over control. And I imagine that must have been just a tough mental block for you or for any other leader to say, I inherently trust the judgment of my staff and of what they're seeing with their students.

And maybe it wasn't hard for you, but I can imagine that could be that can be a hard thing to hand over at the outset.

Matt Griesinger

So I have a funny start. So I learned that lesson very early in my career, year or two of teaching. As my first evaluatio I was in a new school, right? I'm this new English teacher and a new school with a new administrator who I really respect. And this is the first time that he's coming in for an observation.

This is an evaluative piece. And boy, did I put on the show. Right. Like this was this performative piece. And I had lots of things that I really thought was I thought it was so good, right? I had groups moving and sharing work and all that kind of stuff and the feedback, some positive, some negative. But the main the only thing I remember from that post conversation was my administrator saying, Hey, have you ever considered who has the microphone in your classroom?

It totally hit me, right? Because it was the Matt Griesinger show. And in no world is that what I believe about education. It shouldn't be me on the stage. And it was. And so I think I've always been I've held on to that really good piece of coaching, which again, was the question like, you didn't answer it.

He just said, who has the microphone in your classroom? So I think I've always since then, I've really been careful about -- whether it's in my current role where I'm coaching teachers or when I'm instructing students. But the idea of who has the microphone. You're right, there's you have to trust it. But that's where it comes from.

I learned that tough lesson by doing which I think sticks better for me as opposed to just the fighting. But this is part of my philosophy that it came from a moment of tripping and falling and a really good coach pointing it out. And so I've been lucky in that sense. Yeah.

Jeremy Rogoff

When I was a teacher and someone would come into my room, the entire tenor of my instruction, my voice, everything felt performative. Like you said, I imagine that that is another stumbling block that teachers have to get over in this environment is that, you know, people will be coming into your classroom all the time and you shouldn't necessarily think of them as evaluators, but that's still even if no matter how much you say that, that's really hard to get over.

What have you seen work for teachers for you to establish that culture of, you know, people being in and out of classrooms?

Matt Griesinger

Really good questions. So we as administrators on our four person admin team here, we try to get into classrooms as much as we possibly can. I'd say I get into about three, maybe four classrooms a day, you know, take away when there's big discipline stuff, There's, you know, there's other assistant principal duties that aren't instructional coaching, right? So we try to get into classrooms a lot except on the days of instructional rounds, because as part of our job we are evaluators, so we don't blur that line at all. We joke that there's kind of like that forcefield on the day of rounds in classrooms because those are the sacred

days for teachers to go watch. Teachers and people who are coming into your room, none of them have the ability to technically evaluate you. Yes, you're right. There's always [performance]. But that could be doing it in their own head. But that layer of safety is super helpful. We're also a building because we have highly qualified math and highly qualified English teachers pushing into classrooms every day.

There's already a really good co-teaching balance that exists. So not only are teachers used to having other adults in the classroom, students are used to having other adults in the classrooms. So when we do have you know, a visiting principal from another district come in and talk to our students, they are very used to that.

It's kind of a cultural thing because of the nature of being in a not just a tech building, but in a building where we service 16 area districts, youth, just people are coming and going. So there's a comfort to that piece. The other piece too, is early on, and whether you call it performative, we have a teacher who likes to call it the show, right?

Like, oh, instructional around that. And I guess I have to put on a show today. But that only existed a little bit because what happened was when they did that and what they meant by the show was simply, you know, doing the things that related to our problem of practice. Coming up with processes for students to revise their knowledge, collecting data, grouping students, like doing all the things that you would do when you and I would put on the show for an evaluator.

But the really cool part was it worked and the class was really, really good that day. Not to say they weren't good the other days, but our teachers, when I try out these things, some of it works, but that is a very slow process. It's ongoing because that learning doesn't stick. If I just stand up in front of our whole staff during a day of professional development or a morning right at like an 8 a.m. before the first cup of coffee kind of professional development and just say, Hey, this stuff works, you need to do it.

But that's not how anyone learns, right? It goes back to to my evaluator asking the question of who has the microphone. So we just find ourselves asking a lot of questions. And then you've got different layers of people who are really, really on board and are ready to steer the ship. And you've got other people on the other end who are really tentative about even stepping foot on the ship.

But when it's a natural process of all the how some of these things work in my classroom, I mean, that's really all you can ask for.

Jeremy Rogoff

Yeah. And one thing that you talk about in the article is it's just sounds incredibly asset based, Like teachers are looking for evidence of positive implementation of something and instructional strategies. And I wonder what that has done for the reflection process. So maybe talk a little bit about okay, you have the sacred day of of rounds.

The next morning you start to reflect on what they have seen. What does that process look like? What is the facilitation of that process look like to get to those kind of aha moments that teachers have?

Matt Griesinger

Sure. So it's a it's a packed hour is what it is, because it it should probably be done in about two or two and a half hours. But it's a packed hour because that's what we have. So we start it's an information dump. It's every piece of evidence that you took yesterday. Right. I'm speaking on a Wednesday.

So every piece of information that you took yesterday, comb through it and look at it through the lens of what we're doing. We call it our evidence based recording -- standards based, competency based, look at through that lens, put a star or highlight next to the things that fit. And then we we simply ask teachers to organize all that information in groups.

We've done it before where that's it. That's all the instruction we get, just organize that information. That's been not all that effective. What we found is then by breaking down the areas of our practice -- like when we when we do it later this month, it'll be about the revision of knowledge, about grouping and regrouping students.

It'll be about data collection and then engagement and then asking teachers to take that information. Sometimes we use sticky notes or just massive pieces of paper on the wall and move all that information and kind of organize that on those in those 5 to 6 different areas. And then we assign groups of teachers to each area. So you might have looked at three different classrooms and saw lots of evidence of a lot of things.

But after about 15 minutes of of that pre work and that data dump, now your brain is going to be used for just grouping and regrouping students. You're in a group of three or four different teachers and you're looking at all of this evidence that our group collected around grouping and regrouping students, and then coming up with patterns... simply what it looks like and how it impacts students.

And then the predictions, which is my favorite piece, because it comes straight out of the textbook from Harvard. It's answering the question, “[What] if I were a student at the school and I did everything that was asked of me?” So it gets away from the student whose significant other broke up with them, all that kind of stuff.

If I was the standard student, what would my day look like? And from that question is where we get both the positive and negative, because some of the things that have come out have been “Oh, if if I'm in the school and I'm a traditional student and I've done everything that's asked of me by the end of the year, I'm going to be close to a master at whatever my trade is because of the way things are scaffolded, because of the instruction on those that are made.” Other things that come out, which is what we're working on right now, is [the student] can be quiet and compliant

and not actually learning. And that's getting us to ask the questions about passive engagement versus active engagement, because we all know -- and a lot of us have been that student -- where, okay, I know if I don't raise my hand, if I don't ask to go to the bathroom a lot, if I just sit there and I'm quiet, no one's going to ask me any questions and the bell is going to ring and then I can leave. Which is not what any of us want. But that [realization] all came from the process of a data dump, organizing that that data and then putting 3 to 4 teachers minds in charge of, “Hey,

what does it look like to be a student in this school?” Around the idea of grouping and regrouping, around the idea of being challenged or being engaged? But again, it's got to go back to the experts in the room. So we're taking all of these experts in the room and just organizing them into groups and seeing what they come up with and then get back.

It's our next topic. So then I get to facilitate some professional learning the following week around engagement strategies. But that only comes if we've gone through that hour long process of watching teachers coming up with that evidence, organizing it, and then determining our next course.

Jeremy Rogoff

There's so much metacognition happening there with teachers really identifying the problem, and trying to get to the solution themselves. So much of them, not you the problem and the potential set of solutions. And it probably builds so much more by in on the actual professional learning that you're doing. My mind goes to, okay, what are you seeing in terms of early evidence of impact?

Because everybody wants to see shifts in teacher practice and shifts in student learning. Ultimately, that's the purpose of professional learning. So can point to a few examples of where you're seeing real shifts in what's happening in the classroom.

Matt Griesinger

Yeah, So I think the biggest shift is that you can actually see it on a daily basis. It's just increased collaboration. So you get more teachers walking across the hall or walking down the hall or finding someone at lunch who they know is very good at this particular strategy because that's what's come out during the debrief process and going to them and saying, Hey, I know you're very good at collecting data and then using it that same day to group students.

How do I do that? Which those kind of conversations are happening a lot just very, very cool. The other piece is when we're when we're doing the actual professional learning that the topics that come out of rounds, there's there's people who are then using those strategies, maybe not that same day, but soon thereafter. And you know, the most recent example was around passive engagement versus active engagement.

And so we let our staff through one of the silliest flashcard games out there because it was it was truly about engagement. It was how can I have students in groups of three or four and make sure that they're all engaged? And so it was just a completely silly notecard game. But then three teachers used it that day because they're like, okay, I'll give it a shot.

So the idea of just trying it has has been really, really cool to see throughout the building because because we've taken a huge piece out of rounds, right. This is not about being evaluated. This is about getting better. A lot more people willing to take the risk and it doesn't have to work. Like it's quite possible that the the silly flashcard game absolutely bombed in you know our our information technology class, but that's just as effective as it working because now that teacher knows okay that strategy didn't work and then they can start thinking, well, okay, here's why it didn't work in my classroom.

Here's here's the culture that I've created. And this is why that particular game didn't work, which is all fair game. Like, it's all it's all great stuff because I don't necessarily need something to come out of the professional learning that I lead. I don't need everyone to do it that way, but I do need them to consider it.

And if they're not going to use it or they use it and it fails, that's a choice, right? I guess it all goes back to everything's a choice. Playing music as students walk in, right? Playing music, you got to choose the music, but not playing music. That's also -- you chose not to play music. So really being deliberate around why it works, why I tried it and or why it doesn't work.

It's like going down the hallway and hearing some of the things that are coming out. I don't have data to say that it's it's working. I have some qualitative pieces. I have some feedback from teachers saying like, Hey, this is great.

Hey, this is have you considered doing it this way? Have you have you considered even as silly as like, hey, we usually run rounds starting at 9:30. Can we push it to 10:00 because of this reason? Like, all of that stuff tells me that I have teachers who are interested in this doing well.

Jeremy Rogoff

Yeah, well, you've built a lot of buy in. Even if, you know, the student learning outcome can often take a year, multiple years. And to be able to just hear the journey that you've been on for this year to get it some, to get it to the point where it's at I think is really powerful. And now as you kind of look ahead to next year, what are some of the areas where you're hoping to improve or optimize around the rounds process?

Matt Griesinger

So a couple of things. So the first one that comes immediately to mind is we have these building based rounds, right these days where teachers go watch each other. But we also are doing the really, really textbook based instructional rounds where we do have people come in, descend upon the building, leave. So we did that once in February.

We're doing it again with regional instructional leaders. So principals from our districts, other teachers from from our sending schools and they come in to do a full day of rounds then so that we will have done that twice this school year. Ideally, I'd like to get it to a point where we're working every other month. So starting in September, then every other month, it's either a building based rounds or we call it regional rounds, right?

Because it's a regional district. So that's that's ideal in terms of kind of the facilitation of it. I'd also really like to get to a point where I can give up more of the microphone because right now during the debrief process, it's myself and our our, our curriculum advisor and we are doing a kind of co teaching model.

I'd really love to get to a point where for even the debrief I can just be the person who put names into a matrix and made sure the day was going to go smoothly with coverage for teachers. And then the debrief can also be teachers because I think until and until I can fully not necessarily step away, but until I can knock out the microphone, there's always going to be that piece of, okay, fine, that it's not evaluative, but you're still an assistant principal running this process.

But that's going to be that's that's going to really take some coaching. It's going to take time, too, because the last thing you want is to give up too much of the microphone before someone's ready. Right. Like that. That's that's when the stand up comedian falls flat. Right? You can't you can't possibly have that. So it's got to be done in a way where I can not only be an instructional coach, but also facilitate the coaching of people who can become facilitators.

But that's that's a real that's the pie in the sky. That's the the really stepping back. And because that's when the machine runs itself a little bit. Yeah.

Jeremy Rogoff

Well now I mean we'd love to have you back in a year to see how you've, how you've evolved and how you put these things into practice.

Matt Griesinger

I'm sure it'll sound way different.

Jeremy Rogoff

I mean, it's an amazing process to watch and to hear about and hear how you kind of evolve along with it. And it just like I said at the beginning, it has all of the ingredients, teacher advocacy, giving them voice into their own learning, building opportunities for collaboration, giving them feedback. That's not compliance oriented, but that is really about, you know, actionable that they can make into their classroom.

It's really amazing to hear what you're doing in an individual building and how it is so practical. This is something that somebody can listen to and say, okay, how could I make this come true in my building based upon the constraints that I have? So I just want to thank you for sharing your your story. It's been really fun to listen to.

And like I said we'd love to have you back. If people have more questions and want to hear a little bit more specifically about, you know, some of the structures that you put in place, how can they best get in touch with you?

Matt Griesinger

So the best way is to kind of go through our our our district's website. So we're, our full name is Northwest Education Services. My email is and I'm happy to happy to answer questions through email. But yeah so our our website, we have up in the banner "career tech," just click right on career tech and all the contact pieces are right there.

I'm happy to answer questions. I'm not nearly the expert. The experts wrote the book out in Harvard in 2009. I'm just, you know, a guy who latched on to it. And I'm super lucky to have a staff as well as bosses who believe in the process.

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