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Involvement in prototyping promotes teacher ownership of ideas and enables local adaptation.

Involvement in prototyping promotes teacher ownership of ideas and enables local adaptation.

Once everyday practice ideas were selected, each district identified people to take part in an initial prototyping team who would test out the idea in their schools. In prototyping the everyday practice, educators were invited to apply it in a way they felt would work best, reflecting on what was working and not working, and adjusting or “iterating” the practice as they went along.

Educators who participated in prototyping appreciated the ability to develop out the approach, adapt it according to their own context, and collectively identify core elements that made it effective. This prototyping approach emphasized teachers’ professional autonomy and helped the initiative to be seen as grassroots and teacher-led rather than top-down or driven by external interests. Darren Macmillan, the Community Liaison for SD 43 Coquitlam referred to teachers as “private prototypers” in their natural tendency to iterate their practices.

In SD48 Sea to Sky, the prototyping team started their process by developing a document describing how to implement the practice. This “Circle Practice Protocol” ended up being modified 15 to 20 times throughout the process. By the end of prototyping stage, the group had developed a concise one page protocol, which in the end included two core Circle guidelines – “listen while others have the talking piece” and “what is said in Circle stays in Circle” – rather than the original four Circle guidelines proposed. 

The process of gathering feedback and seeing the Circle protocol shift over time demonstrated to teachers and staff that not only were their opinions on the practice being heard, they were actively shaping its evolution. The increasing simplicity of the practice allowed it to be more easily adopted by those who were not deeply steeped in the work. It also provided flexibility to those who wanted to take the approach to the next level or implement it in a unique way. Circle spread far beyond early adopters: from January to June 2016 it went from three teachers in three schools to 41 teachers at four schools.