For just a moment, I want you to imagine you're in the beginning phases of what could turn into a crucial or difficult conversation. You feel yourself getting offended. Maybe you notice you're beginning to disagree with what's being said by the other participant in the conversation. Your heartbeat begins to increase. You feel heat creeping into your earlobes or neck. You know that you WANT and maybe even NEED to say what's on your mind, but you just don't know how (without it being a complete bust). Chances are, if you're having the feeling of NEEDING to say what's on your mind, it's a gut instinct you should listen to. But actually following through with this instinct in an appropriate and positive way is challenging IF you don't have the right tools and strategies to practice! In this live, I'll be sharing about one of the most effective ways to "say what can't be said". More often than not, we feel we CAN'T say the things, when in reality, these are the things that SHOULD be said. And it CAN happen with the right strategies!
This is when you need to try "PERCEPTION CHECKING"! Check out this episode to learn about how to use perception checking to say the things your gut is urging you to make public. Scroll down to get the two resources mentioned in this episode!
Coaching Through Overwhelm Using the Enneagram
If you didn't catch the last podcast episode, I'm encouraging you RIGHT NOW to pause here and go check it out! We know that the world of education is positively overwhelming right now. As instructional leaders, we have a deep urge to support our colleagues and help them get past this sense of being overwhelmed. Therefore, you'll notice the last podcast episode is prudently titled: "How to Coach People Through Overwhelm with Empathy and Practically". We want to give you practical ways to do this and that's what we're focused on in this post again today.
In this podcast, I'm joined by Allison Petersen, Michelle Bulin, and Lindsey Babczak to dig deeper into the work of coaching educators through overwhelm. Allison Petersen is an Instructional Coach and Consultant and the founder of the #NewtoCoaching Facebook Group and The Breakthrough Circle, an exclusive coaching group. Michelle Bulin is Social Emotional Learning Coach and founder of SEL in the Middle. Our last guest in this podcast is the curator of the great tools and resources that are included below. Lindsey Babczak is a K-4 Instructional Coaching in Reading. She is a first year instructional coach and changing the world one conversation at a time!
These amazing coaches each bring something unique to the world of coaching, but they all center their work around understanding and using the Enneagram. This blogpost was written and podcast recorded so that YOU have strategies to equip yourself as you're working through your own overwhelm which will equip you to coach others through overwhelm.
The problem is that, whether you are a teacher leader or you are an instructional leader or administrator, obstacles get in the way of making change happen. Sometimes the obstacles come in the form of individuals remaining stagnant in a state of overwhelm that causes resistance, resentment, or restlessness.
What causes overwhelm??
One of the things that really could sum it up is this meme that we recently found of Louisa from Encanto.
This character is trying to keep her perfect face up front, but under the surface, she is literally feeling all the pressures. It's funny... but it really is a great visual to define what we have found is going on with teachers right now: they're feeling extremely overwhelmed, they're feeling like they have to keep it all together, and they feel like they've got all these things they are managing.
Maybe it would even help to put a meme next to it with Ross from Friends screaming "pivot!!" What we need to be able to do, instead of sitting in the overwhelm and allowing it to crush us is pivot. I think we can agree that we want our fellow educators to be able to be their best and we don't want them to feel stuck and overwhelmed. So how do we help them with that?
It boils down to self-awareness...
Part of self awareness is really understanding who you are, where you come from, knowing your strengths and your weaknesses, and being able to make adjustments (pivoting if you will) and addressing those those things that make you who you are. It takes a bit of quite time, of really choosing, to be self reflective. Something that we have found extremely paramount in becoming self-aware and self-reflective in order to overcome overwhelm is the Enneagram.
The Enneagram is an ancient personality typing system that has come back and become a modern piece. Ian Morgan Cron's book, The Road Back to You gives a great deal of information about this personality typing system and is highly recommended. Basically, there are nine numbers on a circle that each represent a different personality type. What's important to note is that each type has an underlying motivator.
These numbers will start to give clarity to your personality, your why, and why you're why you're overwhelmed with things. Because the REAL FACT IS THIS: you have to be able to be self aware and self reflective before you can coach anyone else through their overwhelm. If you have not dealt with or do not know how to address your own overwhelm there's no way for you to effectively coach another.
When you do the Enneagram, it starts with the nine core numbers. These different numbers each have that core motivation and when you start coaching people at the level of core motivation, you get to real change. Simply getting to understanding your own Enneagram type can give you a sense of relief from overwhelm.
The whole idea of the Enneagram is that you would be able to change your behaviors so that you can really transform internally and become more whole. It's all about self awareness.
"I know my Enneagram... now what?"
Let's say that you have done this work: you know your Enneagram type, you reflect regularly, especially in seasons of overwhelm. How then do you know when you're ready to coach someone else through overwhelm?
We believe that you can coach anyone, anywhere, and through anything- even if you're not an expert on them! You can come in to a coaching partnership as an equal player and pour into them. When you have just a slight advantage on them because you have done some of the work first- you have started by understanding your number, you have read a little bit more about it, you've come to a little bit of self awareness- you're just three steps ahead of them and to us that's what coaching is! It's turning around and recognizing that what you've come through can be used to help another come through it, too!
Making use of the Enneagram to become self-aware and to self-reflect is just one little key that might unlock a huge door for you in your ability to coach teachers through overwhelm!
You've made it to my site, now why not gain a deeper understanding of why I do what I do and how I can help YOU do what YOU do! This episode shares exactly that- my why, my what, and my how (full disclosure- I have a hiccup in the very beginning of the episode... let's see if you can catch it!).
As an instructional impact consultant, I focus on partnering with schools to collaborate around high impact strategies that solve the problems that programs and products aren't solving. Yes, that's right, I said it- programs and products are NOT solving the problems that come up again and again in our schools- lack of student engagement, motivation, and ownership; low morale due to overwhelm; an overabundance of resources; minimal gains in student achievement or increasing gaps; and lack of knowledge transfer and application.
But as an attempt at a quick fix, we bandaid the problems we encounter with curriculum programs and technology products. Imagine the time, effort, and money spent on these things that have only minimal lasting and positive impact, or worse, NO positive impact! The solution to these problems does NOT lie in the THINGS we purchase. The solutions lie within the walls of our buildings- in our leaders, our educators, and our students.
But what we know is that taking a step back to analyze the effectiveness of our people can be daunting work. Each individual in an organization comes with their own perspective of problems and solutions, alike. This can make it challenging as a collaborative group to get to the heart of the real challenges at hand, much less the real solution to the challenges. And THIS is where I come in!
I'm able to take a seat in the balcony of your school to analyze the challenges your school faces from all perspectives. I ask the instructional leaders the right questions to get to the real challenge. I have the right conversations with teachers to gauge the school culture and mindset. And I observe students and classrooms with just the right lenses to analyze the current reality. Finally, I strategically and intentionally partner with teams to facilitate collaborative learning around the strategies that will have the highest impact on student achievement and teacher empowerment.
A great deal of what I do revolves around not only facilitating collaboration, but more specifically modeling and explicitly teaching about collaboration. Why? Because I believe that the greatest instructional impact lies in our ability to and our success in collaborating with colleagues and students. I believe that collaboration can be hard, complex, and challenging work- but this kind of work is often the most inspiring and empowering. And I believe that products and programs DO NOT empower and inspire.... PEOPLE empower and inspire.
It is through successful collaboration that our continual problems can be solved. And I would love nothing more than to partner with you and your school to solve the problems that products and programs aren't solving!
And so you've made it to the end- that's all there is to it! If you've gone through the first three parts of this blog series, you know all there is to know about implementing collaborative studies!
This last post on the blog series is SUPER fun! This is where we get to think about all of the possibilities of topics and modes of delivery. The only problem is that the possibilities are actually ENDLESS!!
Have more ideas?! Share away and let us know how it goes! Together, our ideas are limitless. Any of the possibilities listed above can be combined, tweaked, stretched, and arranged in a way that makes the collaborative learning experience one that attendees LOVE and remember!
You're Here to learn more?!
Or perhaps you're here for the first time! If that's the case, hop on over to the first post in this blog series all about Collaborative Studies and how to introduce them to teachers. THEN, read on in this post, PART TWO, to learn about what it looks like to get teachers signed up!
Of the four parts to this blog series, this is quite possibly the easiest and least complex piece. Now, it's important to state here that following the first steps that are listed in this blog series is extremely important. Once you have done so, and have gotten the word out about collaborative studies, it's time to settle down and plan your collaborative study events! This can be done many different ways. You may decide to host collaborative studies monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly and pre-plan the topics across the year. You also may choose to host collaborative studies sporadically based on patterns noticed across the classroom. To make this decision, think about the culture and climate of your school, the initiatives of administration, and the current teacher workload. No matter the case, be sure your teachers know what to look forward to as the year goes on. *Side note: My first time implementing collaborative studies, I decided to host them monthly. It did have its benefits, but I suggest hosting them bimonthly or quarterly so that you might illicit better teacher turn out.*
How to Get Teachers Signed Up for the First Event
You now have a broad plan for the year, you know your first topic of study (more on this in a future blog post!), and now you're ready to get teachers signed up! This will require you to take a step on the bridge of vulnerability. You're essentially giving teachers power to say "yes" or "no" to what you are proposing. And, let's face it, a "NO" kind of hurts, even if you've vowed to yourself not to take it personally! This is how a carefully written sign up form can be super helpful to both you and the teachers completing the form. So let's visit the secrets to building the form and then we'll jump into the logistics of getting it out to teachers and, more importantly, completed and submitted!
Secrets to Building the Form
The easiest way to get teachers signed up is by sending out a Google Form. You can also use Sign Up Genius, but I find that Google Forms are much more user friendly and can easily be customized. And, of course, I have a great form template ready for you to download. Simply scroll down to get your copy!
You'll notice in the template that there is space for all the details of your collaborative study and topic of choice. These details are much like a session description you might find on any conference pamphlet. Make it as enticing and intriguing as possible and cater to the unique personality of your campus. This should be what teachers see first on the form. Whether they are interested or not, I request that all teachers complete the form. Therefore, they will include their name, email address, and grade level (if needed).
The next part is where you can allow them to "let you down easy" and also can give you a ton of great information about where the teachers are in relation to the content being studied. Include only positively stated options for involvement. Not only does this ease the pain of the "no's" for you as the host, but it also encourages a positive attitude toward collaborative studies, even if the teacher chooses not to participate.
Here are possible participation options to include:
Logistics of Getting Forms Completed and Submitted
Got the form done?! Ready to hit "send"?? HOLD ON!!! First and foremost, have a dear friend or colleagues proof read it. And then let your administrator know that you're going to send it out. If you're not completely comfortable with sending it out, or you believe it will have more weight coming from an administrator, you could ask them to send it on your behalf. Ideally, you'd want it to come directly from you. The best option, if you're using Google, is to email it using the option through Google Forms. This will allow you to see who has responded and who has yet to respond.
You won't simply email the form and await responses. The primary way to gain the most responses is by visiting teachers or striking conversation about it in passing: "Hey, have you seen the email about the upcoming collaborative study? Be sure to respond soon. I can't wait to find a way for us to partner and learn together!" Another way to gain responses is by including information about the collaborative study and the form you're expecting them to complete in multiple formats and outlets. If you send a weekly newsletter, include the Google Form link or QR code on the newsletter. Post a few flyers at various locations throughout the school (perhaps the bathroom- as was the case for this flyer!).
These collaborative studies are meant to be more casual than formal and are optional. Make it enticing, relevant, and professional, but never underestimate the power of FUN! As you are marketing this idea of collaborative studies, show your enthusiasm and interest in the things that are on the teachers' minds and seek out their expertise.
After all, to collaborate is to partner with others in the quest to better ourselves collectively for the sole purpose of supporting the broader audience: our students.
Until next time, when we dig into WHAT to do when teachers attend the collaborative studies, grab this free Google Form template and get your teachers signed up!
I will be the first to say that changing one's mindset can be a daunting task! It is much easier said than done. Unfortunately, and fortunately, many teachers have a way of holding themselves to very high standards- sometimes so high that they often feel as though they've failed more times than not. This shouldn't be the case. And if we can train our brains to think intentionally, we can better accept when things don't work out as planned or when we do actually fail.
All it takes is one small step at a time. This week, that first step we'll discuss is "Determining Purpose". This sounds like an obvious thing to do when you're practicing the art of intentionality. But how often do we find ourselves thinking about the PURPOSE of each thing we do in the classroom- each activity, each conversation, each line up time, and the list goes on and on and on? If educators can take this first small step in changing our mindset and transform into intentional THINKERS, the other steps will easily fall into place.
Here is what I propose to begin:
... and that's it! You don't even have to take steps to ensure follow through! (Say whaaaaaatttt???) Remember, the whole purpose is to BEGIN adjusting your mindset to THINK intentionally. Building this habit with small pieces of your day will inevitably filter into other, more meaningful, parts of your day.
Here is an example of what my thoughts might go when determining purpose as students line up:
So, what say you?!
Will you accept the challenge and train your brain to begin thinking intentionally? No, it won't be easy to be a full-fledged intentional educator from the start. But the smallest steps, like determining purpose, can lead you there!
If your students are anything like mine, they often get in a habit of writing in a certain style, where their writing almost becomes formulaic. Or perhaps you have students that may have some great ideas for the body of their essay, but the introduction or conclusion are lacking a certain "je ne sais quoi". Enter stage left: 'Grab a quote' lesson!
This lesson stemmed from a few different resources and clashing of ideas that constantly pop around in my brain. We are always looking for ways to help our students write engaging, interesting essays that readers simply don't want to put down. We also want to give our students a plethora of strategies and crafts to use so that they can put into place what works for their topic, their essay, and their style as an author. As is often said, "to each his own". (Get what I did there?? Hehe.)
So, as can be seen in this super quick and easy flow chart I created via lucidchart, there were multiple factors involved in my brainstorming session. I'll give the detailed version of the steps taken that I believe made this lesson successful, as well as ways that I will adjust in the future.
Because I'm a "boxes and bullets" kind of gal, that's how I'll take you through the steps of this lesson.
Set Students Up for Success
Welcome! I am Casey Watts- Collaborative Leader and Culture Changer!