Teacher professional development workshops are transformative for teachers insofar as they allow for collaborative insights to be reached through inquiry, dialogue, and feedback in an environment that is supportive, inclusive and open. One process this project has found particularly effective for one-to-one teachers is Liz Lerman's Critical Response Process (CRP).
The Critical Response Process is a process for receiving constructive feedback in a supportive group in which participants are assigned specific roles. As Liz Lerman's website states:
Critical Response Process (CRP) is a feedback system based on the principle that the best possible outcome from a response session is for the maker to want to go back to work. Whether returning to the studio, the desk, the kitchen, or the laboratory, CRP gives tools both to people who are making work and people who are responding to that work.
In use for over twenty years, CRP... has enhanced learning between teachers and students. It has proven valuable for all kinds of creative endeavors, work situations, and collaborative relationships within and beyond the arts.
At the core of the Critical Response Process is meaningful dialogue aimed at strengthening students', teachers' and artists' ability to solve problems inherent in their own creative endeavours. Through developing this process, Lerman realised that by raising concerns through questions and the context they established, they encounter no defensive resistance. Videos of the process follow from the written summary below.
There are three roles assigned within CRP: The Artist, Responders and Facilitator.
The Artist needs to be able to discuss their work openly with the group and be in a position to receive positive and constructive comments specific to their questions.
Responders can be friends, public, peers or strangers, experts or novices. First and foremost, Responders are invested in the potential of the artist to do their best work. Answers given are honest and specifically address the artist's questions about the work.
The Facilitator is also invested in the potential of the artist to do their best work. The Facilitator ensures all understand the sequence of steps involved in the process and intervene when opinions or suggestions are given too early in the process. It is also the Facilitator's role to check that the artist is comfortable with the direction of discussions throughout the process, to help the Artist break down questions if needed, and to encourage participation from the Responders.
The Critical Response Process:
There are four steps in the CRP. Before the process begins, the Artist presents their work that they would like feedback on.
Step 1 - Statements of meaning:
The Facilitator invites positive feedback from the Responders. These comments might include what was exciting, meaningful, memorable, challenging, compelling, evocative, unique, different, suprising, touching, and the like. Meaning is the essence of what people have discovered in the artistic practice just shared.
Step 2 - The Artist asks questions
The Facilitator invites the Artist to comment on an aspect of their work and to request feedback from the Responders. The process is most fruitful when artists are open to learning something of value from others that may apply to the future evolution of their work. Responders answer honestly, staying within the topic of the question.
Step 3 - The Responders ask neutral questions
Questions from Responders should remain neutral and avoid being leading or opinionated.
Step 4 - Permissioned opinions
With the Artist's permission, Responders can now offer opinions on what they have seen. Opinions need to be couched in a positive manner and give the Artist the opportunity to say 'no' to hearing the feedback should they choose. The Artist remains in control here. If the Artist is not open to hearing an opinion, it is not useful to continue a discussion around it.
Lerman has continued to develop the critical response process over the years, and has recently included an optional Step 5 - New thinking
The Artist is now invited by the Facilitator to share with the Responders what was helpful in moving them forward with their learning, or what they will take away from the session. The Artist may or may not choose to participate in this step.
The series of short videos below outlines each of the steps involved in CRP and illustrates how the process unfolds practically.
Thank you to the Innovative Conservatoire for allowing us to share these videos.
For further information about Liz Lerman’s book Critical Response Process, please click here.