BMS leans into Continuous Improvement

“Rounding and Continuous Improvement is a constant reminder that we need to check in with people,” Principal Marcia Hoerl said. “It is a pretty cool way to get feedback from everybody in this building at any moment, and our conversations really focus on situations and improvement,”

The practice of “Rounding” or “Doing Rounds” comes from the medical field, and is a loose reference to the rounds performed by healthcare providers in a hospital to check in on patients. As applied in Bayfield schools, the practice has created a framework to ensure building leaders are “checking in” on staff members.

“We’ve only done one round of rounding, and will be doing the second round this week, but I already feel like it has set up a system for a constant communication tool,” Hoerl said.

That has been particularly helpful at BMS, where the school’s entire leadership team has a great deal of experience over the course of their careers, but each only arrived in their positions at Bayfield Middle School a year ago. As those leaders do their rounds, they are getting to know their staff better and building relationships. They are also building a framework for growth by asking the series of five questions laid out in the Rounding Program:

1. What's working well?

2. What has been challenging?

3. How could I be helpful?

4. Do you have the resources that you need?

5. Who has been helpful to you?

“I love the question from rounding about who has been helpful,” Hoerl said. “They get to acknowledge that person through me, and I get to hear from people who were thanking other co-workers for things I did not even know were going on.”

This exercise has produced the unanticipated benefit of identifying potential mentors and mentoring relationships within the staff at BMS, and Hoerl said that is important because people often like to receive guidance from two different types of mentors — formal and informal.

“I think I’ve got five newer teachers that wanted a mentor, and this has identified people as mentors who maybe aren’t as extroverted,” Hoerl explained. She noted that there will also be an opportunity for follow-up in the district’s “Teacher Academy,” which will allow them to ask what is going well and isn’t going well with the mentorship program.

“Within the model, we want to be sure to use that reflection opportunity,” Hoerl stated.

For the same reason, the Stoplight Report — which is constructed from the answers given to the rounding questions as a means to track areas of concern or potential growth — is also shared with staff. The BMS Principal hopes the rounding meetings can eventually be tied back to the district’s goals and targets to improve staff understanding of the big picture — and ultimately enable them to have an even greater impact on student success.

For now, though, rounding has helped bring generations of teaching experience together, and while administrators are largely using it to focus on strengths, it has also provided a structure for problem-solving and allowed staff to play an even greater role in the Continuous Improvement Initiative.

“My role is helping them find the right resources,” Hoerl explained. “Where there is a problem, I can usually support a fix.”