Do you use protocols in your coaching practice?

Simply put a protocol is a structure or framework for a conversation. It can be a conversation about anything: a reflection, and exploration of a resource, examining student work. 

I have been using protocols with teachers and students for over 10 years. If I look back to when I first realized their power, I think it was with the Visible Thinking Routines from Harvard’s Project Zero. 

Since then, I’ve added Critical Friends Group protocols from National School Reform Faculty, protocols from School Reform Initiative, and we’ve created a bunch of our own which we’ve shared on our Instagram account (and we have a great workbook for sale on our website with even more – see more about that below!)

Having a framework for conversation allows all participants to focus on the topic at hand instead of getting distracted by “what we’re supposed to be doing” – and they make a HUGE difference. 

Have you tried using protocols in your coaching conversations? Or for professional development?

Here are 8 reasons why you should!

As coaches and leaders, we facilitate a lot of conversations. Whether it’s a team or department meeting or divisional or whole school PD, we’re often asking teachers to think, reflect & discuss their learning.  One of the most effective ways to have focused and deep conversations is to use a protocol. As I mentioned earlier this week, a protocol is a framework or structure for a conversation, often with roles, time limits & specific outcomes. 

Protocols are great because:

  1. They allow participants to focus on the purpose of the conversation. 
  2. They ensure that no one person dominates the conversation AND that no one is left out.
  3. They provide a structure for thinking so the conversation goes deeper faster than one that is unstructured. 
  4. They can provide a specific time limit so they can be effectively structured into all sorts of events. 
  5. They often give each participant a role, so that everyone is engaged. 
  6. In larger groups they give a consistent framework for returning to whole group discussions. 
  7. Once you build a culture of protocols for discussions, they get easier and more efficient. 
  8. They can be used in any context: with teachers, students, parents, leaders; and for any topic. 

These are just a few reasons we love protocols and have been using them in all forms of professional conversations for over a decade. 

Another Unique Way to Use Protocols

Recently in our 5 Min Fri series on YouTube, we shared an episode with guest host, Maggie Hos-McGrane where she shared the power of protocols in a virtual book group setting! Check it out here:

Use Protocols Effectively in Your Professional Context

If you want to test out some new protocols this year, grab our Protocols for Empowering Pivotal Conversations: Reflective Guidebook!


5 Star Reviews!

“This is not just a list of useful protocols, it is a self-guided opportunity to learn, intentionally plan, and reflect. I really like the strong theme of curiosity throughout as so often we get stuck in assumptions and familiar patterns of thought. These protocols encourage us to step out of those habits, ask new questions, and consider different perspectives and ideas.”

Anne Marie Chow

Design Better Professional Learning This Year!

If designing better professional learning is something  you’re ready to work on and develop over the next academic year, join us for our fifth cohort of The Coach Microcredential! This is exactly the kind of conversation (and task) that we explore as part of our academic year long mentorship program. When you join, not only do you get a mentor for the entire academic year, but you get lifetime access to the highly curated content inside the course.  Plus a global cohort of colleagues to learn with! Check out the link below or reach out to us on any of our social media platforms!

FREE: Quick Protocol to Check the Pulse of Your School Culture

Grab this free download to check the pulse of your school culture as you structure professional learning this academic year!