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Thank you for Being a Knowledgeable Other!

Thank you for Being a Knowledgeable Other!

Why Knowledgeable Others? I use this term generically as it signals that these teachers and leaders, whatever they are called in a system or in a school, have made an evidence-proven contribution to their students’ growth and achievement and to their colleagues’ learning practice.

How have they done this? Knowledgeable Others have found the ways that each of their student’s learn and then shared these successful practices with colleagues in formal and informal settings. They are risk-takers who humbly present evidence, though student work, that shows which assessment and instructional approaches work and why. Knowledgeable Others can clearly articulate the why, when, where and how they support students who are struggling, stuck or need extending… and how they support colleagues to extend their practice.

Who is a Knowledgeable Other? The selection of your Knowledgeable Other, and we all need at least one - if not more in every learning space, is critical. Many years ago, through trial and error, I learned that they need to be knowledgeable about effective classroom practice and, most importantly (if that is possible), they must be respected and respectful members of a school staff. Knowledgeable Others can:

articulate a clear purpose for collaborative work;

organize time periods and schedules for collaborative work;

reinforce shared beliefs and understandings about student and staff success;

build consensus on what specific areas for collaborative learning stand out through the analysis of student data;

research high-impact practices;

determine clear Learning Intentions and their Success Criteria for learning through collaborative discourse and analysis;

solidify a commitment to employing an inquiry approach to collaborative work;

establish and implement norms and protocols for collaborative engagement;

support goals with ongoing scheduled time, resources and time for reflection;

project a growth mind-set by modeling a belief in the capacity of others to learn;

model responsibility and accountability for individual and collective learning;

facilitate the work by using learning protocols; and

empower by including all voices in the work.

(Sharratt and Planche, 2016)

We all need to aspire to enact those verbs above as we are all Knowledgeable Others to someone in our care. Strategic leaders make time during the school day for Knowledgeable Others to do their work alongside colleagues.

What processes do Knowledgeable Others use? Here I list eight evidence-proven Professional Learning practices that Knowledgeable Others use in their coaching work alongside teachers and leaders (and are found in the CLARITY text):

  1. Co-constructed Data Walls (Chapter 7)

  2. Case Management Meetings (Chapter 7)

  3. Lesson Study (Chapter 8)

  4. Co-teaching Cycle (Chapter 8)

  5. Instructional Coaching (Chapter 8)

  6. Collaborative Assessment of Student Work (Chapter 8)

  7. Demonstration Classrooms (Chapter 8)

  8. Professional Collaborative Inquiry (Chapter 3)

These eight high impact approaches are in the tool kits of all Knowledgeable Others and are deconstructed further in CLARITY (Sharratt, 2019). Additional resources can also be found at in the (free) ‘Members Only’ section.

Who are your Knowledgeable Others? To whom are you a Knowledgeable Other? How can you become an even more powerful Knowledgeable Other?

Time to take stock.


Sharratt, L. (2019). CLARITY: What Matters MOST in Learning, Teaching and Leading. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Sharratt, L. and Planche, B. 2016. Leading Collaborative Learning: Empowering Excellence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. ‘Members Only’ resources.

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