Teaching program models doctors rounds to prepare students to teach

University of Michigan's Rounds Project rotates teaching interns through different classrooms like medical interns do rounds at hospitals

Amelia Gernand loves getting her students excited about history. She said they come to her class every day wanted to know what she is going to teach them.

"That shows me my students are invested in their education and they're excited to learn and that's the best thing to see," said Gernand.

Gernand teaches high school students history at the Detroit Institute of Technology.

She learned how to teach through The Rounds Project at University of Michigan.

Developed by The School of Education's Elizabeth Birr Moje and Robert Bain, The Rounds Project is a program modeled after how medical interns are trained to treat patients.

"Student interns do rounds through schools and through different classrooms for preparation for their student teaching semester," said Gernand.

Much like medical interns make rounds at hospitals, the teaching interns do rotations at three different middle and high schools working with "attending teachers."  These are teachers carefully selected by the School of Education to work with their teaching interns.

"We decided that we would identify three attending teachers, three teachers in the field, who did the kinds of things that we were teaching in our courses," said Elizabeth Birr Moje, the associate dean for research and community engagement for the School of Education at the University of Michigan.

During each rotation the interns focus on a different teaching skill; which includes, selecting and using text, assessing students, planning lessons and teaching them.

Gernand is one of those attending teachers working with interns, but she herself went through the program.

"It was really beneficial to be able to observe a lot of different teachers and gain their best practices before I went into student teaching," said Gernand.

The teaching interns currently in Gernand's class agree with her there are benefits to this teaching program.

"It's just great to see all these different environments and how these teachers work," said Charles Inzucchi, a teaching intern from University of Michigan.

During the school rotations, the attending teachers are expected to intervene during a lesson if the intern makes a mistake, much like a doctor would intervene while a medial intern is treating a patient.

"They have had to learn to intervene without making the interns feel terrible but intervene in a way that models for them really great instruction, really great ways of working with students" said Birr Moje.

The Rounds Project began with social studies teaching interns, but has been expanded this year to include math and English language arts.

Birr Moje said they developed a handover system as part of The Rounds Project that  helps the interns as they rotate in and out of classrooms.

"Just as a doctor or a nurse wouldn't leave a shift without making some notes, we don't want our students to leave the shift, the rotation without making some notes, without documenting what they've learned and passing that on" said Birr Moje. "The value of finding out who your students are, how the classroom works before you enter it, we think is quite powerful."

Birr Moje said faculty also adopted a system to hand over information about the interns as they move through the teaching program. She believes that's been one of the most important changes to the program.

"The way we're working together across all semesters of our program and all courses within a semester and trying to do a better job of connecting to the coursework," said Birr Moje.

Gernand appreciated that her program enabled her to observe different teachers so she could see different classroom management skills, teaching strategies and organizational skills.

"Because you're able to observe a lot of different teachers you can see a lot of different classroom management skills, organizational skills, teaching strategies, and so being able to observe a wide variety of professionals helps to give you that a lot of teacher education programs can't give you," said Gernand. "It's all about being an effective teacher. Simply knowing your content would never make you an effective teacher you need to know the practical skills for how to reach students."

As a product of The Rounds Project, Gernand appears to be making an impact.

"She has been one of the most exciting social studies teachers I've had so far," said Deequan Moore, a freshman at Detroit Institute of Art.

The University of Michigan would like to expand their program one day to offer support to teachers during the first few years of their career.

Birr Moje said students who have been through The Rounds Project find themselves  wanting to teach in urban schools because they're exposed to it and they see a real opportunity to make a difference.

For more information on The Rounds Project, click here.

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