Problem of Practice in Schools

The Problem of Practice (PoP) protocol builds teacher and leader capacity by identifying real-world problems, leveraging the already-existing expertise, and proposing solutions that can be directly implemented. This is a win-win for everyone involved – ultimately leading to improvement in teacher and student outcomes.

Keep in mind that the time for a PoP can vary; however, an hour is more than enough for a quality experience. A sample time structure for either a 60- or 45-minute meeting is provided in the chart below: 

PoP PhaseTime Per PhaseTime Per Phase
Problem Presentation5 min5 min
Clarifying Questions10 min5 min
Probing Questions10 min10 min
Group Discussion20 min15 min
Presenter Reflection10 min5 min
Presenter Debrief5 min5 min
TOTAL TIME60 minutes45 minutes

Before wrapping up this series on PoP, the Stride Professional Development Center wanted to offer a few suggestions on how to use this process schoolwide.

  1. Teachers – if the school has multiple student teachers, a cooperating instructor will want to act as a facilitator by bringing all the student teachers together to work through potential scenarios. This not only helps them in their current role but empower them with a protocol for when they have their own classroom.
  2. Counselors – maybe there is a particularly difficult case of truancy where one counselor has not been able to facilitate change for that student. The entire counseling team could convene and use the process to gain a fresh perspective for next steps.
  3. Principals – use this model as part of your succession plan to develop your assistant principals. You could serve as the facilitator in the process and bring challenging problems to that group for further study and solutioning.

The opportunities are endless. The key is to take this learning and then apply it – sooner rather than later. Once the school team becomes comfortable with the PoP protocol and are fully grounded in its use, they could teach this tool to students enabling them to benefit as well.  For instance, the student government club could leverage the protocol for an important matter where they identify potential solutions to share with school leadership.

Send us an email – – to share how you are using this protocol in your schools!

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