I’m a Critical Friend!

Since September I have participated in a Critical Friends Group at my school (with our coach Christina). It’s been a great experience to get to know, grow and collaborate with a small group of teachers. I would consider professional learning a weakness at our school so it’s been an enriching experience to be around people who share my professional values. We’ve met about once a month and used a variety of protocols to examine and enhance our practice. I’ve also participated in several protocols during school divisional meetings.

Today I facilitated my first protocol! Our MS principal (Dave) wanted a productive way for his staff to reflect on their weekly team meetings. I pre-conferenced with Christina and we decided on a Back to the Future Protocol. Dave is currently away on a site-visit so he wasn’t able to present. I subbed steps 1-3 with a list of questions Dave had thought of. Usually this protocol is done with 3 pieces of large butcher paper and the faciliator writes down what the group is saying. My handwriting isn’t awesome and I can type way faster than I can write. Also, I wanted something that would be easily shareable and would stick around (not be in the way or thrown away). I created a Google Spreadsheet and hoped for the best!

I gave the shortened link (view only) to all the participants in the protocol so they could follow along and see whichever of the sheets they wanted (on iPads they had to refresh to see the updates). On the classroom computer & projector, I kept the Projected Future sheet so they could always be reminded of what they were aiming for. I brought my Chromebook to the meetings so I could move around and edit whichever sheet I needed to be on.

The protocol went really well :). My experience presenting at conferences has made me comfortable in front of my peers. Plus protocols aren’t about me or my ideas…they’re about what the presenter wants accomplished. I was just the facilitator. During the debrief I specifically asked what they thought about using the Spreadsheet instead of butcher paper…they much preferred it! They liked that it was professional and didn’t make them feel like elementary teachers ;). I’ll be running another one for a different team on Sunday so I’m hoping it goes just as smoothly! [It did!]

I’ve created a template of the Back to the Future document so that anyone can view it and copy it…would love to hear how it works for you and if there are any improvements that I can make!

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4 comments

  1. Vivian · May 22, 2014

    Hi Lissa

    Thanks for sharing. It’s not easy finding “critical” friends and we all need them. Online conversations tend to be overly-positive. We still need the face2face discussions.

    Like

    • Lissa Layman · May 26, 2014

      Giving constructive feedback to your colleagues can definitely be a challenge in education. I really like that protocols remove any personal feelings and allow us to work together to become better educators!

      Like

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