Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey

Improving with Procedural Knowledge

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


July 14, 2014

As you think about some of the procedural knowledge you have mastered, such as driving a car, riding a bike, cooking, or using your computer, consider what has lead you to skillful use. Procedural knowledge is only mastered through ongoing practice to the level of automaticity. The work of both Adaptive Schools and Cognitive CoachingSM require developing procedural knowledge. Having structured opportunities with feedback to practice new procedural knowledge is provided in training sessions. However, most people don’t leave the 4 or 8 days of training with the fluency necessary to achieve automaticity with skills.

Schools and organizations can support procedural fluency in several ways:

At the beginning of a meeting, identify a specific norm of collaboration to work on and debrief the practice at the end of the meeting

Have an observer collect data during a meeting or coaching conversation to later be analyzed, e.g., video to analyze approachable voice

Structure small practices as part of regular meetings, e.g., 10 minutes of coaching around a new instructional practice or alternating facilitators at meetings and asking them to try a strategy from Adaptive Schools

Isolate a skill to use for the week and have everyone in the school focus on that skill, debrief learnings in small groups for 5 minutes at the week’s end

Structure meetings with opportunities to use the skill and deliberately ask people to use a specific tool, e.g., have a planning conversation with your partner about back-to-school night, use think-pair-share
Because procedural knowledge takes a lot of practice, it is suggested organizations pick a few things to work on at a time until mastery is demonstrated. When automaticity with those few skills is demonstrated, structures can be removed and the practices will sustain. At that point, choosing to add additional skills can be structured. What one to three types of procedural knowledge might be the most important to focus on in your work place?