Using Consultancy Protocol to Ignite Change

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” by Barack Obama

Using  a consultancy protocol is authentic learning at its best. A consultancy protocol is a structured process for helping an individual or team think more expansively about a particular dilemma or barrier.  I believe this format is a great way to ignite change in a school and/or classroom, as it allows teachers and students voices to be heard. (Norms would have to be set and most take place in a safe environment.) Holding consultancy protocols helps build better school and classroom environments because it builds trust and relationships. Instead of listing problems and complaining like at a typical meeting, everyone becomes part of the solution and time is well spent. This could easily be done for students during morning meeting/class meeting or during a staff meeting for teachers.

Final Hands

Below is the process to hold a consultancy but know there are different variations out there as well. I adapted this one from a Bill Gates Convening I attended. Below are approximate times but I have done “mini” versions of this in 30 minutes. There are different roles and responsibilities for each person participating:

  • Presenter:  Person who brings the dilemma or barrier to the group and whose work is being discussed by group (Staff Member or Student)
  • Facilitator: Person who facilitates discussion and moves group through the Consultancy Phases (Facilitator can also participate in discussion) (Principal or Teacher)
  • Consultancy Group: Group of individuals that discuss the problem and provide the Presenter with feedback. (School Staff or Classroom of Students)

The Consultancy Process

Step 1: Presenter Overview  (5 – 10 mins)

The Presenter gives an overview of the dilemma or barrier with which s/he is struggling and frames a question to the Consultancy Group to consider  A write-up of the problem may be shared as well but the problem must be presented orally. Here are steps in writing about the dilemma or barrier:

  • Step 1: Consider the Dilemma This should be an issue with which you are struggling, that has a way to go before being resolved, that is up to you to control, and that it is critical to your work. It is important that your problem is authentic and fresh – that is, not already solved or nearly solved.
  • Step 2: Write about the Dilemma Here are questions to guide your writing:
  1.  Why is this a dilemma or barrier for you? Why is this dilemma or barrier important to you?
  2. If you could take a snapshot of this dilemma, what would you/we see?
  3. What have you done already to try to remedy or manage the dilemma or barrier? If so, what have been the results of those attempts?
  4. What do you assume to be true about this dilemma or barrier, and how have these assumptions influenced your thinking about the problem?

The framing of this question is key to the effectiveness of the Protocol. The focus of the Group’s conversation will be on this dilemma and barrier.

Step 2: Clarifying Questions (5 – 10 mins)

The group asks clarifying questions of the Presenter, that is, questions that have brief, factual answers. Clarifying questions ask the Presenter the “who, what, where, when, and how” of their problem. These are not “why” questions, and generally can be answered quickly and succinctly, often in a sentence or two. These questions are not meant to fuel discussion, but rather to make clear any important points of reference.

Step 3: Probing Questions (5 – 10 mins)

The group asks probing questions of the Presenter. These questions should be worded to help the Presenter clarify and expand his/her thinking about the dilemma or barrier presented to the Consultancy Group.  Probing questions get to the “why” of the Presenter’s problem. These may be open-ended inquiries, requiring answers based both in factual detail and the subjective understanding of the Presenter. The purpose of a probing question is to push the Presenter’s thinking about his/her problem to a deep level of analysis. The Presenter may respond to the questions, but there is no discussion by the Consultancy Group of the Presenter’s responses.  At the end of the 10 minutes, the Facilitator will ask the Presenter to restate his/her question to the Group.

Step 4: Group Dilemma Discussion (15 – 20 mins)

The Consultancy Group analyzes the problem while the Presenter moves back from the circle, remains quiet, does not interrupt or add information, and takes notes during the discussion. Possible questions to frame the discussion:

  • What did we hear?
  • What didn’t we hear?
  • What assumptions seem to be operating?
  • What questions does the dilemma or barrier raise for us?
  • What do we think about the dilemma or barrier?
  • What might we do or try to do if faced with the same dilemma or barrier?

Members of the Group sometimes suggest actions the Presenter might consider taking.  However, they work to define the issue more thoroughly and objectively.

Step 5: Presenter Reflection (5 – 10 mins) 

The Presenter reflects on what s/he heard and on what s/he is now thinking. S/he shares with the group anything that particularly resonated during the Consultancy.

Step 6: Facilitator Debrief (2 – 5 mins) 

The Facilitator leads a brief discussion about the group’s observation of the Consultancy Process.

This format allows issues to be addressed and solutions created. It allow students to use all their 21st century skills (Communication, Collaboration, Critically Thinking and Creating) no matter if they are the presenter or in the group. If you have done a consultancy protocol in your school or classroom, I would love to hear what worked and what didn’t, please share int he comments.


20 Digital Citizenship Resources

“Digital citizenship can be defined as the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use.”  by Mike Ribble

Digital Citizenship is a concept which helps educators and parents to understand what student users should know to use technology appropriately. There are 9 elements of digital citizenship such as digital rights & responsibilities, digital law and digital etiquette. With more devices and blended learning, teaching Digital Citizenship in the classroom is apart of the hidden curriculum that should be infused with the schools/classrooms current Character Education program.


Other Blogs and Resources on Digital Citizenship:

1. Curriculum: Understanding YouTube & Digital Citizenship

2. Know the Net Site

3. Digital Citizenship: There is more to teaching than three R’s

4. Common Sense Media

5. FBI Cyber Surfing

6. Live Binder of Digital Citizenship Resources

7. Educational Origami – 21st Century Pedagogy

8. Digital Passport

9. Copyright Website


11. Internet Saftey

12. Educational Technology and Mobile Learning Digital Citizenship Posts

13. 20 Basic Rules For Digital Citizenship

14. 5 More Places To Help You Find Quality Creative Commons Images

15. Digital Citizenship in Schools

16. 10 Interactive Lessons By Google On Digital Citizenship

17. Digital Citizenship Comic

18. Brain Pop: Digital Citizenship (Free)

19. Teachers Channel – Super Digital Citizen

20. Ideas for Digital Citizenship PBL Projects

I would love to know how you teach digital citizenship. Please share in the comments.


“The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” Bill Gates


CIPA, COPPA, FERPA, Oh My! These are the laws and policies that help to protect our students online that many teacher’s are not aware of. Below is an overview of each law along with some resources to better understand them.

Child Internet Protection Act: The school is required by CIPA to have technology measures and policies in place that protect students from harmful materials including those that are obscene and pornographic. Any harmful content contained from inappropriate sites will be blocked.

Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act: COPPA applies to commercial companies and limits their ability to collect personal information from children under 13. By default, Google advertising is turned off for Apps for Education users. No personal student information is collected for commercial purposes. This permission form allows the school to act as an agent for parents in the collection of information within the school context. The school’s use of student information is solely for education purposes.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act: FERPA protects the privacy of student education records and gives parents the right to review student records. Under FERPA, schools may disclose directory information (name, phone, address, grade level, etc…) but parents may request that the school not disclose this information.

  • The school will not publish confidential education records (grades, student ID #, etc) for public viewing on the Internet. The school may publish student work and photos for public viewing but will not publish student last names or other personally identifiable information.
  • Parents may request that photos, names and general directory information about their children not be published. Parents have the right at any time to investigate the contents of their child’s email or web tools.


Due to these laws, but also wanting our students to create using web tools and apps, we created a Webtool Permission Slip. This permission slip helps parents be informed as well.

Knowledge is Freedom: CIPA, COPPA, and FERPA Explained Succinctly

CIPA, COPPA & FERPA: Requirements Reexamined

World’s Simplest Online Safety Policy

Work Cited:

“Children’s Internet Protection Act |” 2002. 1 Dec. 2013 <>

“Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998.” 1 Dec. 2013 <>

“FERPA for Students – U.S. Department of Education.” 2010. 1 Dec. 2013 <>

Integrating Social Emotional Curricula and the Common Core

“Learning is a result of listening, which in turn leads to even better listening and attentiveness to the other person. In other words, to learn from the child, we must have empathy, and empathy grows as we learn.” By Alice Miller


Tonight’s #21stedchat (On Twitter Sundays @ 8:00 PM EST US with @dprindle and I – @Edu_Thompson) is discussing Social Emotional Curriculum vs. Integrated Empathy. This is apart of what I refer to as ‘hidden curriculum’. To me there shouldn’t be a ‘verse’ between Social Emotional Curriculum/Integrated Empathy tonight but an ‘and’.

Developing students’ social and emotional skills helps schools/classrooms create safe learning environments that help increase academic achievement. I believe that empathy falls within social emotional curriculum and it should be integrated into the Common Core with a focus on 21st century skills so it is cohesive. Below are some suggestions on how you can integrate social and emotional curricula with Common Core standards. My ideas are based on the An Educational Leaders Guide to Evidence-Based Social and Emotional Learning Programs, Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL, 2013)’ and Common Core.

  • Self-Awareness/Management: focuses on identifying and recognizing emotions; self-efficacy; control of oneself; self-motivation and discipline; goal setting; and organizational skills. Connection to Common Core:  CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
  • Relationship Skills: encompasses communication; social engagement and relationship building; working cooperatively; negotiation; conflict management; and help seeking. Connection to Common Core: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
  • Responsible Decision Making: includes problem identification and problem solving; evaluation and reflection; personal, social, and ethical responsibility. Connection to Common Core: CCSS.Math.Practice.MP1 Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  • Social Awareness: empathy; difference recognition; and respect for others. Connection to Common Core: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.

There are many other Common Core Standards that these social and emotional basic skills can be integrated with. Many of these skills can also be taught and discussed within books, history and the arts. Below are more resources on this topic:

Social and emotional learning gaining new focus under Common Core

Building Social and Emotional Skills in Elementary Students: Empathy

Empathy: the Key to Social and Emotional Learning

Teaching Social and Emotional Skills in Schools

CASEL website

I would to hear ways that you think social and emotional curricula should be integrated or how you have integrated it. Please share in the comments section

Addressing the Issue of Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) with Students

“Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.” By Samuel Johnson

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a reality for many students as we are becoming a more connected society and using social media. With Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Four-Square, to name just a few, we basically know (at least think we know) what everyone is doing and where they are. Below is a spoof video, of a very real feeling many students have.

While working on a digital citizenship project and listening to students talk about their memorial day plans, it got me thinking about FOMO. I started to researching more about it and finding lots of psychology articles on it about Mom’s having FOMO and co-workers but nothing about addressing the issue with students. This shocked me! I believe FOMO needs to be part of our digital citizenship lessons in the classroom as it is apart of digital literacy and etiquette. It should be talked about and discussed as FOMO can contribute to anxiety and depression in students. Here are the three ways I think we can address this issues for the students in the classroom:

1. Self-Esteem: We need to teach and foster self-esteem in the classroom. How do you do this and address FOMO? One way is to emphasize to students not everything someone posts, tweets etc are always true. We also need to address responsibility of ones actions. Jack Canfield’s ASCD article: Improving Students’ Self-Esteem writes about 10 steps teachers can take to help build self-esteem. “He states we must assume an attitude of 100% responsibility for our actions.” He discusses that the formula: E (events) + R (Response to them) = O (Outcomes). We need to teach our students that it is okay that you don’t get invited to every party or get together with friends but how you react to these situations is critical. Reminding them it doesn’t mean they like you less or that they don’t like you at all. If a ‘friend’ consistently does want to hang out with you, think about maybe why? Are you always complaining, or causing drama? If not, asking your friends after they don’t invite you to events a few times is okay. This brings me to my next point.

2. Communication: One of the most important 21st century skill is teaching students how to communicate on and off-line. We need to teach students about tone of communication because often times with email, messages and status updates what people communicate gets lost in translation or can come off a different way than meaning too. Taking the above situation, it is also important for students to realize that with friendships, and really any relationship, it is important to communicate. Along with communication, comes intrapersonal communication (also known as self talk) that Canfield discusses as well. We need to discuss self-talk with students and teach them that they control their minds. Students need to be stating positive messages and not negative ones. For more about self-talk check out this article: Challenging Negative Self-Talk by Dr, Martin

3. Choice: Students need to know they have choice and that they can’t be everywhere at once. If they want a quiet evening at home, that is their choice. They shouldn’t feel guilty for not going to the cool party etc. Also recalling, they don’t always have to be ‘plugged’ in can help as well. They can take a break from social media and the world won’t end.

How are you addressing these issues in the classroom? I would love to know, please comment with your ideas. Want to read more about FOMO, check out these articles and infographic.

Life Dissatisfaction Linked With Fear of Missing Out

Fear of Missing Out Drives Use of Social Media

New York Times: Feel like a Wallflower? Maybe It’s Your Facebook Wall?


Introspective of ‘A Whole New Mind’ By Daniel Pink

“Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting.”  ~Edmund Burke


This week I finished the book A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink (@danielpink). It was an amazing ‘read’ (I did it as an audiobook) and one that made me look at things in a new way. I highly recommend this book to anyone but especially educators as it takes a look at our students as 21st Century learners.

Daniel Pink says, “We are moving from an economy and a society built on the logical, linear, computer like capabilities of the Information Age to an economy and a society built on the inventive, empathetic, big-picture capabilities of what’s rising in its place, the Conceptual Age” (1-2)

Pink states that there are six fundamental right-brain aptitudes and I have added some of my own thoughts as well for how to apply them to the classroom:

  • Design – Moving beyond function to engage the sense.  He discusses how improving school environments could increase test scores. If you think about it, where would you rather work/learn? At a desk and chair with pencil and paper or in a relaxed environment on a comfy couch or chair with your device. We need to get teachers comfortable in changing the environment so it is not as structured, no more rows or assigned seats. (To learn more about what I think the classroom environment should look like, check out my previous post: 21st Century Classroom Environment)
  • Story – Narrative added to products and services – not just argument. What do you remember about the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster? I remember the story of the first teacher going to space, not the facts about the disaster. With students, connecting facts/events to story will help them not ‘memorize’ but think deeper about the events. This can easily be done in the classroom with digital storytelling.
  • Symphony – Adding invention and big picture thinking (not just detail focus). This works well in the classroom with goal setting. Having students looking at the bigger picture is a great way for them not to work about just one grade but how they master a concept over time. Having symphony in the classroom allows students to be critical thinkers and problem solvers because you are looking for solutions for problems. Similar to Challenge Based Learning (CBL) style. 
  • Empathy – Going beyond logic and engaging emotion and intuition. In the classroom this is helping students having a global perspective and aware of people outside of themselves. This is part of the ‘hidden curriculum’ and part of building well-rounded students. Having students participate in community service events and getting them involved with emotions. In my classroom, I would engage the students in a few videos about the hunger problems in our world to make them aware. I then posed the question, how can we help? The students brainstormed ideas of ways that we could help and then we took it a step further and carried out those ideas for example we held a food drive. I always tied in the curriculum by having the students create persuasive ads to entice others to want to donate and I had them collect data on what items we had then graph the results.
  • Play – Bringing humor and light-heartedness to business and products. Pink discusses how we should blur the link between work and play. I don’t consider my job ‘work’ as I enjoy it, I can ‘work’ for hours on school stuff and not even realize how much time has gone by because I love it. To me, work is going to the gym, where I watch the clock and think, is this over yet? I am ‘doing it’, because I know it is good for me and I should, but I am not enjoying going to the gym. We need to do the same in schools. We need to make the classroom environment be a place where students ‘get lost in learning’ and not be looking at the clock thinking is it over yet. Pink discusses how game based learning (GBL) in the classroom can help students with this concept. Check our this site for more about GBL and A Whole New Mind
  • Meaning – the purpose is the journey, give meaning to life from inside yourself. In the classroom, we need to teach concepts that are related to the real world so students see the connection.

I think this would be a wonderful book study for schools or personal learning networks (PLN). Mr. Pink even provides you with discussion questions for this book and I found a Livebinder full of resources that would also guide your school/PLN to effectively use this for Professional Development by Julie Hart & Jill Rubinstein, from University of Colorado Denver.

I know I do not do this book justice but hopefully I have enticed you enough to read it. I would love to hear what others think of A Whole New Mind and I can’t wait to read more of his books. Next up, Drive! Happy Reading!

Teaching the Hidden Curriculum: Compassion

“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” By John Holmes

Character education may not be in the Common Core but as a teacher I often think about the ‘hidden curriculum’ of teaching a well-rounded student. Learning about our differences can be a powerful way for children to see from another person’s point of view helping them understand cultures; becoming more globally aware. Many wonder, ‘Can Compassion Be Taught’?

I believe compassion can be but it also needs to be modeled. This is a wonderful time of year to help teach and model compassion in the classroom. Having the class help a charity or run a food drive can teach compassion. Past service learning projects I have done with my students:

– Collecting Tabs for the Ronald McDonald House (My favorite service learning project because we do it all year and the students graph the number of tabs each month and we can see how much we have made a difference.

Toys for Tots

– Food drives for different soup kitchens

– Wrote letters of persuasion to a tree farmer asking to donate a few trees to those who couldn’t afford them.

– Reading Buddies and Tutoring help with a different grade level

– Coat drives

This is a great site to find more service learning ideas for the classroom: National Service Learning Organization

Books that help teach students about  compassion:

The Book Thief   by Markus Zusak

Wonder by R.J. Palacio 

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

Yoko by Rosemary Wells

Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester

Rules by Cynthia Lord

Great article on teaching compassion: Instilling Compassion

An Infographic by

I would love to know what others have done in the classroom to help teach compassion and service learning project ideas.

I wish all my readers Happy Holidays! ♥

Teaching Fellows Institute: Leadership and Character Development

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Gandhi

This past week, I was lucky to be selected to be apart of Charlotte’s Teacher Fellow Institute where Master teachers come together to collaborate on best practices and engage in rich meaningful discussions about many topics. We were treated like royalty, plus we received lots of surprises such as massages and amazing food! Did I mention this Professional Development was all FREE. If you are in the Charlotte, NC area, and are a public or private school teacher, I highly recommend applying for this!

I know my post will not encompasses all that I learned this week nor how truly wonderful it was; but it will highlight many of the important aspects, plus give me the time to further reflect on the week. I have shared lots of links so you can learn more information if you are interested in any of the speakers we heard.

Monday: Intentional Leadership Theme

Tom Lane, from Center for Intentional Leadership , came and spoke with us about how important it is for teachers (really any person) to be their best, which means, taking care of ourselves. One great thing I learned was that I was not the only one who ‘spread’ herself too thin and couldn’t find balance between work and home. One of my favorite quotes he said was, “You have to slow down, to go fast.” This makes so much sense but it seems easier right now because it is summer. I need to remember this through-out the school year. Tom also made use come up with three SMART goals. One for our self, Professional Development and relationships that we have to promise to maintain for at least 30 days. I decided mine were going to be for the school year, as I am a strong believer in goals and think that you should always revisit. I will do that every 30 days. Another highlight from Tom was how we tend to go to our ‘default’ setting when we are struggle or have too much going on. Our default usually enables us to refer back to our automatic tendencies such as we over think things, become a people pleaser, a perfectionist or defensive. But he explained if we live our lives intentionally then we are deliberate.  When we are deliberate we are present, everything matters, we act for a purpose, own our ‘stuff’ and be loving and caring. Being intentional is more effective leader and teacher.

Tuesday: Fostering Goodness in the Classroom

David Streight, from Center for Spiritual and Ethical Education, spoke to use about Fostering Goodness. We discussed what the true purpose for education was. After the great discussion we realized there were many components we want in our students. Many of these elements are apart of the ‘hidden curriculum’ that we most weave into the core curriculum in order to achieve students who are self-sufficient, productive community members that are global citizens and life long learners. We discussed three components that foster goodness in the classroom: autonomy, competence and belonging. We realized, through personal stories, the good teachers in our lives had passion, took time to build relationships with the students, set high expectations that were consistent and understood failing was okay. They all encompassed these three components.

Wednesday: Character Development: Moral and Performance

Matthew Davidson, from The Institute for Ethical Leadership, spoke to use about Performance and Moral Character development. I could write pages about everything that was presented as this was my favorite day. He gave us a toolkit of resources/strategies for developing character within our students. He pointed out that many schools are not weaving in character development but they are making it a separate entity. He used the example of parallel lines and how one line is the curriculum and the other line is whatever program the school is using for character development. He explained how this is where we are going wrong and it should be intersections. He repeated Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” We discussed how there needs to be a balance of moral and performance character as they are like muscles and need to be exercised. We want students to, ‘enter to learn but to leave to serve.’ We talked about our own schools by taking an excellence and ethics inventory and it was amazing to see the difference in what we had thought about our schools and character, to than actually digging deeper and getting real with the issues. Matt also talked the 8 Culture of Excellence and Ethics Focus Areas. You can learn about  each of them through this article, Developing the Culture and Competencies of Excellence & Ethics: Needed for Success in School, Work, and Beyond He also discussed the 4 keys to helping instill performance and moral character through part of the curriculum called Power2Achieve: Self-study, Support and Challenge, Other Study and Public Performance/Presentation. Here is a quick (1:30) video about the program if you want to learn more.

Thursday: Discussion of Education Topics

Thursday was a day, the teachers attending, got to share about our practices, ideas and resources through a jig-saw activity. Each small group got a topic to discuss and share with the whole group. Being with other teachers, that are all great at what they do, was humbling as I saw how important it was to be a listener. We had a few teachers that continued to have a comment for every topic and used the word ‘I’ a lot. After  a few days, it became obvious when these teachers talked, the other teachers tuned out what they were saying. I want to be an effective leader that remembers not to use many “I” statements and to listen. I also have heard these quotes below that I want to remember as a leader but they ‘sunk’ in more probably because it came with discussion and reflection verse just hearing them in passing or reading them somewhere.

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Stephen Covey

“Attack the problem, not the person.” unknown

Like I stated before, I know I didn’t share everything as there was so much value in the discussions but hopefully you find some of the information helpful. Again if you are in the area, this is an excellent program to apply for.