Cultivating an environment where faculty learn alongside one another and from each each is an essential element of an effective learning environment. One way to engage in this work is through the use of a variety of purposeful protocols coupled with skilled facilitation. This simple structure assumes that (1) teachers have both things to learn from each other and things to teach each other, (2) that learning together will improve their teaching practice, (3) deepen their knowledge of students, (4) and build a shared understanding of fundamental ideas about schooling.
Teacher Leadership "Hacks"
In the chapter, Cultivating Teacher Leadership, I describe my journey in fostering teacher leadership at my school. Guided by the driving question, “How do we create and facilitate opportunities for teachers to grow in their leadership practices,” I lay out an approach that begins with developing a deep understanding of the problem and ends with tools and resources that can be adopted by other schools interested in cultivating teacher leadership. Through iterative cycles of inquiry, I supported teachers as they tried different change ideas, or hacks to cultivate leadership skills. Click here for teacher leadership hacks.
Looking at Student Work
There are two protocols for looking at student work that I find really helpful. Both protocols examine work in "rounds." One protocol focuses on an individual piece of work brought forward by a teacher seeking feedback on next instructional steps with the student. The second protocol is helpful for looking at multiple samples of student work from the same curriculum unit. Teachers examine student work for the purpose of making revisions to the unit based on evidence of student learning.
Protocols to Facilitate Learning
There are several protocols that I have found to be especially effective in building a culture of learning among faculty. One of the most powerful protocols I have experienced is the tuning protocol. The tuning protocol is a way to get feedback on a unit/project/assessment you are designing from your colleagues. A second protocol I have found helpful is the ping pong protocol. This tool is helpful when a group is having substantive discussion about a collective issue. Finally, the chalk talk protocol is really useful for silently reflecting, generating ideas, checking on learning, developing projects or solving problems.
Protocols to Cultivate Culture
Four of my favorite protocols for fostering a positive, collaborative and effective school climate include: getting to know each other as educators through the The World Cafe (here is a sample menu), creating a Creedo (here is an example), sharing Hopes and Fears around changes occurring within the school/team/department and last but not least engaging in the Success Analysis Protocol to help celebrate and unpack aspects of teaching that result in positive change for student learning.