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A protocol to analyze successful professional learning

Happy New Year! The best thing about a new year is the new opportunity we have to continue our learning as educators – another opportunity to “get it right” to best serve our students. We must go beyond sharing to reflective co-learning to meet the needs of our diverse students. Conversation can be a powerful learning tool. With our students, it can help develop academic language, build vocabulary and oral language and strengthen literacy and communication skills (Zwiers & Crawford, 2011). In addition, conversation is potentially very impactful as a assessment tool.

Well-designed conversations are also a good starting point for effective collaboration among educators and using specific protocols can be a great building block in the process. We need balanced processes that encourage both critique and appreciation. An example of an adapted protocol which encourages an appreciative approach to inquiry follows. This protocol might be quite valuable for those in role –alike circumstances such as grade partners, coaches, consultants and mentors. This is an adaptation of a resource from the National School Reform Faculty ( An original copy of the protocol was part of Learning Forward’s “Tools for Learning Schools” (Winter edition, 2013, p. 7).

A protocol to analyze successful professional learning follows:

If we wanted to share and better understand our experience with a successful professional learning practice and note what we can learn from its success, how might a specifically designed conversation help?

A facilitator introduces the activity and a time keeper keeps us on task.

Chart paper, note paper, pens, markers and tape would be helpful

(B. Planche, 2019. Adapted from Tools for Learning Schools, Learning Forward, Winter, 2013, p. 7).

Zwiers, J. & Crawford, M. (2011). Academic conversations: Classroom talk that fosters critical thinking and content understandings. Portland, Maine: Stenhouse.

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