The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Awareness of Process

I have mentioned awareness of process before on this blog. More than once, actually. But I don’t know if I’ve ever really explained what it means.

Awareness of Process is a tool used proposed (maybe created; I’m not quite sure) by Michael Brandwein to guide a group in discussing how an activity went. Those participating openly and honestly share their answers to three fundamental questions:

  • What worked?
  • What didn’t?
  • What next?

These questions have been posed numerous ways over the years, but I have found that keeping them limited to just a half-dozen words really breaks them down to their most fundamental states. I love using AOP with my class to help them think about how they can improve in their activities in the classroom. The first question leads to a list of things that went well and should be repeated. The second question identifies areas for improvement. This is important because, as I told my class and have heard from my principal on more than one occasion, if you can figure out what went wrong, then you can fix it. The third question is the most crucial: what are we going to do next time? Are we going to be satisfied and try to recreate the results of today, or are we going to seek for improvement? I told my students that I want to see the list of items under the first question grow bigger while those items under the second grow smaller, but we should always be able to find something to improve.

Interestingly enough, today’s AOP session was done at the end of literature circles. The last time we did a formal AOP was when we had first started our reading groups. Sadly, we did not meet in our groups as regularly as I had initially planned, so our discussion of what next never had an opportunity to see a follow through. Our literature circles, though, will be meeting at least once a week for the next several weeks, so I am hoping to see some improvement, although I know it will take a lot of time and effort. We will use Awareness of Process regularly to examine what is going well with our literature circles (and other areas in the classroom) and determine what we need to do to improve. My ultimate goal is for my students to use the AOP questions on their own, whether they are working independently or in small groups, at school, at home, or at play!

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