While no ancient curse brought exhibits to life while he was there, Dr. Kevin Mabie, Waynesville High School Assistant Principal, spent a few days at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan, New York, bringing communication protocols to life to help museum staff and teachers work together to better engage and integrate museum offerings into classroom learning.

“In New York City, there is an organization called the Urban Advantage Science Initiative, which links classroom learning with the museum system,” said Mabie. “Educators work with museum staff to not only use the history museum, but also the zoo, botanical gardens, and aquariums that exist in each borough.” 

The partnership requires collaboration, trust and open-mindedness to move beyond their traditional offerings. So, just as the character Larry Daley in “Night at the Museum” convinces the exhibits that come life to work together for good, Mabie provided strategies to improve the interactions of museum and education experts.   

“Protocols stimulate brainstorming, help educators to analyze dilemmas, establish structures for the best use of time, and encourage individuals to be free to share possible solutions,” Mabie said. “Participants learn how to ask probing questions and how to restate problems. This front-loading of strategies will help them create innovative lessons that utilize the best of both the museum and education environments.”

For example, to encourage brainstorming, a protocol called Structured Charrette is used to attempt to seek innovative solutions. Protocols require all participants to engage in the process by structuring time for those who might speak too much and engaging those who might not typically share their thoughts. 

Mabie, who doubles as a National Facilitator of Critical Friends Group (CFG) trainings for the National School Reform Faculty, also recently spent time training teachers and administrators in the CFG collaboration process at Miami-Dade County Public School District.

His next stop will be a little closer to home as Mabie will offer this training of approximately 40 protocols to Waynesville R-VI teachers and administrators on July 11-13. Participants will leave with facilitation tips for each protocol and become better facilitative leaders.

“Our district has a commitment to collaborative learning and these protocols give educators a toolbox of strategies to make the most of their time,” Mabie said. “The district is eager to embrace open-minded strategies that will promote win-win solutions.”

Waynesville R-VI faculty and administrators may sign up for the training through My Learning Plan.