What? So What? Now What?

Type of strategy: Brainstorming and DiscussionCollaborationWriting and/or Reflection

Gene Thompson-Grove, National School Reform Faculty, 2004


This protocol allows participants to quickly connect one another to their work, while at the same time allowing them to get useful feedback from one another.

There is an overall introduction of protocol goals, norms, and agenda. The group is then divided into groups of 3 or 4, each with a designated participant/facilitator, who also participates.

Small Group Activity — completed in groups of 3 or 4
Participants have a segment of time devoted to examining an area of growth or challenge in their work.

Facilitators gently but firmly keep the group focused on task and mindful of time.

Step 1 (5 minutes)
Participants individually outline a current challenge or success related to their work.
They answer two questions:
WHAT? (What did I do? What am I working on?) and
SO WHAT? (Why is this important to me?).

[optional] Talking points are briefly recorded on the top half of a sheet of newsprint by each participant.

Step 2 (15 minutes per person)
Individual Presentations (total of approximately 15 minutes per person)

1. First presenter explains what they’ve written to their group. Participants take notes/write questions.
2. Group asks two or three clarifying questions (only).
3. Participants reflect back: “What we hear you saying is…” and “Why this seems important to you is….”
4. Participants reflect back: “What we wonder about is…” or “The questions this raises for me are…” or “What this means to me is…” — along with any other focused discussion the group decides to have – i.e., “How could this presenter learn about this question?” “What could this presenter bring to a group of colleagues as a way to learn more about what is important to him or her?”
5. Presenter silently considers next steps; some groups may decide to hear a couple of minutes of reflection out loud by the presenter.
6. Repeat for each participant

Step 3 NOW WHAT? (5 minutes)
Each participant either writes silently of completes the bottom half of their own newsprint chart with some possible next steps, listed as NOW WHAT?

Silent Gallery Walk (approximately 10 minutes) [optional]
All participants will bring their completed sheets of newsprint to the “Gallery” and all will have an opportunity to view our collective work. All participants will be encouraged to use available post-its to place comments/questions on posted newsprint.

Feedback on process (5 minutes)
The full group provides feedback on the process.


What? So What? Now What?

Submitted by: Melissa Lim