McDonald, Mohr, Dichter, & McDonald Power of Protocols Basic ideas
McDonald, J.P., Mohr, N., Dichter, A., & McDonald, E.C. (2003). The power of protocols: An
educator’s guide to better practice. New York: NY, Teachers College Press.
The book begins with a rationale for using protocols and engaging in facilitative leadership. The last three chapters (Ch. 3-5) list and describe a variety of protocols for the reader’s use.
Chapter 1: The Basic Ideas
• “Protocols help them imagine alternatives to ordinary habits of working together, learning, and leading (p. 1).”
• Educating Ourselves (PD)
o Lifelong learning is essential. We, as professionals, must educate ourselves and be commander-in-chief of our own education.
o Because professionals must educate themselves, “professional development activities for educators that are designed and conducted without benefit of inside perspectives are not worth the time and money they cost (p.2).”
o Because educators’ practice is tacit, they may remain transparent unless educators dare to inquire into their own practice with the assistance of colleagues.
• Exploring Student Work
o “Students’ work is the text we read in order to understand our own work (p. 3).”
• Protocol-Based Learning
o Talking needs structure in order for it to be meaningful. It requires careful planning and scaffolding. Without such details, it remains just talk.
o “Protocols force transparency. By specifying, for example, who speaks when and who listens when protocols segment elements of a conversation whose boundaries otherwise blur. They make clear the crucial differences between talking and listening, between describing and judging, or between proposing and giving feedback. In the process, they call attention to the role and value of each of these in learning, and make the steps of our learning visible and replicable (p. 5).”
o Protocols “disturb the privacy and certainty by interrupting the ordinary flow of conversation. Some of them force the raising of questions, the suspension of judgment, and the withholding of response (p. 6).”
• A New Workplace for Educators (CHANGE THEORY)
o A new workplace “is one where the power to assess outcomes and to take action to improve them is distributed throughout the organization, and where the people who do the work are able, willing, and even eager…to make changes as needed in order to make the work more effective (p. 7).”
o Another requirement of success required communities that had the “right structural and cultural conditions to exert continual leadership (p. 10).”
• Facilitative Leadership (PD)
o Crucial components of professional communities of practice (Louise, et al., 1996):
• Focus on student learning
• Deprivatization of practice
• Shared norms and values
• Reflective dialogue
o Developing facilitative leadership requires ensuring that within the organization, there are people who can (Schwartz, 1994) (p.12): (PD, CHANGE THEORY)
• Gather colleagues together with a purpose
• Establish effective ground rules for the gatherings
• Enforce the ground rules by identifying behaviors consistent and inconsistent with them
• Enable the colleagues to share information freely with each other
• Help them attend fully to each other’s perspectives
• Help them make a collective commitment to the choices the group may make
o The aforementioned characteristics are qualities of a facilitator
o Protocols provide facilitators with devices to make required decisions and reflect upon the impact of such decisions during a conversation.