Building leadership capacity requires intentionality and clarity. Both aspects can be achieved through the Problem of Practice (PoP) process. Previous blogs set the stage by discussing the history, roles, and types of questions within a PoP experience. That up-front clarity assists the team in maintaining down-the-road intentionality.
Now that the foundational work has been completed, the educational team of presenter, facilitator, and consultants begin the actual process, and those steps are outlined below:
The presenter shares the real-world problem where assistance is needed. They give an overview, explain the struggle or challenge, and then frame a question for consideration. The facilitator does not participate as a presenter or a consultant, but they guide the group through the process and keep track of time.
The consultants ask clarifying and probing questions of the presenter to dig deeper into the issue. Note, there are different phases of questioning so the facilitator is instrumental in keeping the group focused on the right type of questions.
The consultants hold a whole-group discussion to define the issues and potential resolutions. The presenter cannot speak during this time – they simply listen and take notes.
The presenter reflects on what they heard from the group by pointing out aspects that were of particular interest to them. The facilitator leads the consultants through closing reflection while the presenter resumes the listen only mode.
And, just like that, in about an hour, a problem has been clarified, experts consulted, solutions framed, and reflection completed!
This process leveraged the collective expertise within a school to investigate and resolve a real-world problem within that school. In closing, there is no better way to build long-term capacity for teachers and leaders than to come together and collectively solve a real issue.