Every year in March, Edutech-y fangirls and fanboys (this author included) descend upon Palm Springs for the annual CUE conference hoping for an infusion of inspiration to dazzle their classrooms and students. Without fail, one or two buzz-worthy topics, ideas, or products emerge as the water cooler phenom of that particular conference. While Flipped Learning, Augmented Reality, and Desmos have all vied for the title of “most trendy” in past years, 2018 may have been the year of The EduProtocol Field Guide by Jon Corippo and Marlena Hebern (honorable mention to #FlipgridFever). The Field Guide itself is just the beginning of what appears to be a whole movement including Conference sessions, twitter chats, book signings, interviews, and hashtags all of which contributed to a flurry of excitement around the new book, released by Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.
With so many big names associated with this new release it’s easy to see why the masses flocked to it like the Last Jedi Panel at the 2017 Comic Con. This skeptical author and tech fangirl, however, wondered...is there real staying power behind the Alice Keeler Foreword, the Dave Burgess logo on the spine, and the inner circle of tech Avengers lending their ideas to these “Protocols” which claim to be “Student-Centered Lesson Frames for Infinite Learning Possibilities?”
Spoiler alert: There is.
As an instructional coach, much of my most important work is centered around the “how” of supporting meaningful instructional shifts. Teachers may quickly jump on board with a philosophy or well-meaning text, but implementation fails to see the light of day in the absence of meaningful “What does this look like in a real classroom?” strategies. Enter The EduProtocol Field Guide. Sandwiched between chunks of mic-drop-worthy real talk about how to engage and connect students to content as well as classroom culture, are delightful little Infinity Stones of classroom strategies that have the power to convince even the most reluctant hero to try them with their students. This book is practically daring anyone who reads it not to get excited about trying one of the strategies in their classrooms tomorrow.
While the Oscar for this book definitely goes to its 16 Protocols (a general framework for allowing students to explore content), the best supporting actor award may be meant for the Smart Start activities which take aim at cultivating a culture of joy and excitement around learning at the beginning of any school year. Serving in a 1:1 district where many of our students’ textbooks and content are now digital, a void similar to the one typically experienced at the end of a school year, appears to be forming at the beginning. Teachers may find themselves asking, “What am I supposed to do for 2 weeks with NO DEVICES?” The EduProtocol Field Guide has a masterful plan: Use that time to enlist the Smart Start activities which will provide a foundation for the rest of your school year. With catchy titles like “Frayer a Friend” and “Worst Preso EVER!”, the guide gives every teacher multiple tools to build expectations and foundations for an environment that puts students at the center of the learning and culture at the center of the classroom.
After a foray into starting the year with the Smart Start Protocols, teachers will find a gold mine of actual, fresh, inspiring strategies to serve as a blueprint for ongoing growth, exploration, and inspiration for their students. Protocols such as “The Iron Chef” and “The Great American Race” allow teachers to get students active and excited about learning in any content area, while managing to not come across as gimmicky or fleeting. Throughout the book, the authors drive home several key philosophies around successful teaching and learning which serve as potential mantras for anyone feeling trepidation about ditching their filing cabinet full of black-line masters for something a little more daring. Specifically, Hebern and Corippo explore the idea of “reps” both for teacher and student, suggesting that everything takes multiple scaffolded attempts and trials before mastery can be achieved.
The structure of the book keeps things light with asides and anecdotes from the trenches, while packing philosophy-shifting truth bombs such as “The Suck” which explores how we might be sabotaging our students with lengthy timelines, and “The Four C’s Throwdown” which provides side-by-side examples of flat lessons (that seemed like a good idea at the time) in direct contrast with rich, exciting, protocol-based activities. Additionally, the authors brilliantly anticipated the millions of voices of our primary colleagues suddenly crying out in terror, “But what about the littles?!” by adding an “Adapting for Littles” addendum to each strategy presented. Furthermore, after exploring each protocol in depth in a narrative fashion, the savvy authors include key points to remember as well as possible ideas for variations, all while encouraging teachers to bring their own flair, ideas, and beloved practices into the fold.
Instructional coaches are often charged with bridging the gap between the big ideas and the daily practices related to the art of teaching and learning. Sometimes, despite having an arsenal of strategies, it can be difficult to find the right balance of why and how in helping our teachers reach maximum impact with students. It can also be tricky to find EduInspiration that is attainable by our newest teachers, relevant to those who already have a great bag of strategies, but powerful enough to to reach those reluctant to shift. The EduProtocol Field Guide may be having a moment, but based on its clever format, balance of big ideas and real-world strategies, and powerful insights from the authors, it may be setting box office records for a long time to come.
What are your thoughts? Have you read The EduProtocol Field Guide? What did you think? Have you tried any protocols with your students? SDCUE wants to hear from you!
-Tiffani Brown, 1st Vice President, SDCUE