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106. MINDSET: Coaching Intensives vs. Workshops

by Lindsay Lyons
March 14th 2023
In today's solo episode, Lindsay is sharing a mindset shift related to coaching intensives versus workshops. Tune in t... More
Educational justice coach Lindsey Lyons, and here on the time for Teacher Ship podcast, we learn how to inspire educational innovation for racial and gender justice design curricula grounded in student voice and build capacity for shared leadership. I'm a former teacher leader turned instructional coach. I'm striving to live a life full of learning, running, baking, traveling, and parenting because we can be rockstar educators and be full human beings. If you're a principal assistant superintendent, curriculum director, instructional coach or teacher who enjoys nursing out about co creating curriculum students, I made this show for you. Here we go In episode 106 of the time for teacher ship podcast, we are talking about a mindset shift in this. We're talking about coaching intensive versus your typical run of the mill workshop. Get excited. This is a good one. So your typical run of the mill workshop differs from what I call a coaching intensive. Lots of people don't use the term coaching intensive. So I'm going to define it for you first here and then I want to take you through what it actually is, why it's valuable and how you can implement this at your school.

Here we go. And intensive is the name I use for any full day workshop that is hyper focused on creating a usable product by the end of the day. Or if it's a multi day series of intensive, multiple days, it's kind of like a design sprint, which is a term I think that's used in the tech world. So you're kind of sprinting and doing this intensive design where you're hyper focused on the product they're creating by the end of it. So it's not something you have to create after a workshop ends. And it's different from your typical workshop because there's a kind of building with that happens when the coaches there versus kind of I'm going to talk at you and then later on your own, you're gonna figure out time in your typical school day in your typical week that you're going to actually put something together, create based on what I told you and then implement if we're lucky, right? So in this one, there's less talking at more building with and there's a finished ready to use product at the end.

So again, the hallmarks of an intensive are that we have a full day of focus and the focus is actually on creating something something that is ready to implement. As soon as teachers kind of walk away from that or leaders, right? If you're doing a p for leaders, as you walk away from this intensive, you're ready to put something into practice like the next day, It is ready to go. So that's what an intensive is. There's a finished product, there's hyper focused time, typically 1-2 days. Those are the hallmarks. Now, why would we use this? I know workshops are a very common kind of like 1-2 hour workshops are a very common type of PDF. There may be reasons for this financial time constraints. I understand that. But what I want to say is here is the value of the coaching intensive. And then can we prioritize and work through some of the other things to make sure we get that awesomeness, right? All the things that come with that coaching intensive. How do we get there if we're committed to, if we see the value in it? So my job in the next five minutes is to get a deal with the value of it.

So really what happens in a typical P D? And I've facilitated so many of these, so many workshops. I have been a participant in these workshops. I've seen colleagues participate in these workshops. What we often see is we go to this P D even if it's a great pp, we tell our friends about it. It was great. It was the best PD we've had many times. If we're not creating in the session itself, we don't actually implement what we learned even if we learned awesome things because it requires time within our typical work day after the fact. And so we have no set aside time for actually implementing it. We don't actually create a usable, ready to make, ready to use product in our actual workshop. And so they're in lives where we often talk about the joke of, you know, the binder sits on the shelf for years later, right? And so we get all the information, maybe it's great, maybe it's an engaging presenter, but we don't actually implement. And so what was really the value of it? Also brain science tells us that when we switch tasks, right, there's so many different tasks that as educators, as leaders that we have to do when we switch back and forth, like we constantly do, we are actually wasting time.

We're wasting mental energy on the switching, there's a switching cost and when we are able to actually get into the task, we are able to eliminate the other tasks that are constantly distracting us and forcing us to switch to them. And back again, we're giving teachers space and giving leaders space in these intensive to get into a flow state, right? Takes me high talks about the flow state, right? You can't get into a flow state if you're constantly being distracted and called away and kind of moving back and forth in and out of a task. That's how you lose hours of your day by just switching, switching, switching. So there's a lot of minor strategies of how to do this. I'll talk about a few. But really the goal is that an intensive creates the space, creates the container for a focused time where there aren't those distractions. And you can really enable educators to get into a state of flow. It is making that time more impactful. So something that may have taken a week to do or like 40 hours to do is now possible to do in maybe 10 hours because that's all we're focused, on.

right? When we also look at the practical side of things, we hire people to come in and do workshops, I'm often one of those people, right? Like so speaking from multiple ends of this, as leaders, we want people to do the thing, right? So if we're talking about things, even as facilitators of these short workshops, we want educators and leaders to go out and actually implement. If there is not a creative task that participants in a workshop are doing within that workshop. And to be very honest, there's very little that we can do that's going to make huge strides in terms of implementation in a 90 minute or two hour workshop. Honestly, those are more kind of really short clips of information that might be high leverage in terms of shifting, maybe a mindset shift, it's really gonna shift practice because we start thinking differently. But then we still need the concrete practical pieces where we apply that mindset into our practice.

And if we don't have that creative piece that we can do live while we're learning immediately apply it, it's likely not going to get implemented. So when we have this intensive space, we're actively applying it. Think about when we ask teachers to teach to students, we often talk about an application activity, right? That's part of a typical lesson. That's part of a typical arc of a unit. We ask them to like figure out a way to apply pretty immediately, right? And also something that is sustainable. Something that is long term, we might be working on a project or something where every day we kind of contribute to that project. What we learned today goes right in. So there is a clear meaningful forward momentum, we're applying it to something we see its value. We study this concept in various contexts that application piece is very critical. So we want to see that in our professional learning spaces as well. Okay. That is my pitch for intensive. That is the why if you are sold here is how you can do this in your own school or district when you're talking about leading professional learning, how do you create space for the intensive?

How do you facilitate the intensive? How do you make them the most that you possibly can? So first, we have to make space for it and often this is where the barriers kind of come in and people are like, I don't have the time, I don't have the money and I hear those and I want to think creatively about how some schools are in. Some districts are able to do this because it just becomes a priority. And we've got to get creative often about how we do this. But here are some thoughts. So when we set aside a whole day or days, sometimes you can only get one day, but if you can set aside a whole day, maybe it's just one day for the entire year. As you're just getting started, you have an intensive already created, you have that container space. Some people use existing PD days or in service days, P D as in professional development, right? So you have these days that are already embedded in the calendar, often their start of the year, maybe there's one middle of the year, maybe end of the year. If you use those already, often, what we see in many schools and districts is maybe a keynote speaker coming in or maybe a handful of workshops happening and those again can be great, but they serve a very different purpose.

So if we want something that's implemented, all we want to make sure that it's an intensive and we can use that time To turn maybe a workshop that was already planned into an intensive, that's going to require a lot of prioritization on our part to think about what is the most important if we were going to do 3-4 workshops that day, what is the most important or does each team get to choose what's the most important? But each one becomes an intensive. Another option is to get subs for the day. Again, subs are scarce at this moment. I understand that and that you may not have the budget to be able to see that immediately. Like this is where it's coming from. You know, you're not sure like the line. I'm hoping to get people on the podcast in the future that talk about how they creatively do this. But it is possible there are many districts and schools who are doing this work. So think about how you might be able to allocate funding for subs to come in. So teachers don't have to do this outside of their work day. They don't have to come in in the summer if they don't want to, but it's actually just part of their typical day and we get some subs for that one day.

I also want to recommend that as you're making space for this and you're setting aside this day also set aside the day for a team. So this ensures alignment. And honestly, I think it's very, it's better work and then comes out of it when it's working in groups. So that creativity is present that peer feedback as you're working is really critical thinking about the unit creation process, which is something I do a lot with teams so much better when we can get feedback and a driving question for a unit. And then it's a good question and then the students are way more engaged. It's just so much more powerful to plan in teams anyways. I don't want to digress too much here when we enable teamwork in that setting aside a day. It also makes it possible to say, okay, well, this day, the whole staff isn't going to be out this day that we have, we're going to just have this one team. So if you are able to in schools and districts have different schedules and abilities to do this. But if you're able to invite another team member, let's say you're pulling on the science team, right?

So all science teachers are going to come to this intensive for the day. The 10th grade science class or 10th grade science classes could be filled potentially by other 10th grade team members. They already are familiar with the students, they teach the same students, they might be offered per session rates if there's no subs available, offer a procession rate to cover one class and you might be able to do it that way where you invite teachers who already teach the same students to sub for that class on their prep for a per session rate. Again, this is something you want to offer to teachers not demand from teachers. And that's just a creative way to do it. If subs are not available, it also probably gonna be slightly more expensive than having subs come in. But if subs aren't available, that could be one option for you. Okay. So step number one is just to make space for it. Pick the days, figure out how we get teachers classes covered or use existing PD days as possible. Then what you want to do is specify what you're creating By the end of the day, you want to choose something that is super high leverage.

So I'm thinking of the things that I typically do, I will do an intensive on a unit arc on like so you would actually choose the different protocols that are high leverage. You would have each department map out what a typical unit. Art looks like that way they can reuse it every time they create a unit. I do them on priority standards and rubrics. So by the end of the day, everyone has a department wide rubric that has common language and is scaffolding and backwards planned from the highest grade to the lowest grade. I do them on D Q s or driving questions and projects. So we have everybody kind of brainstormed together a driving question in a project for each teacher's class. So again, that's that collaborative kind of creative brainstorming, build out the project, link it to the rubrics for all the things. And then I also have kind of that lesson level detail of the unit building process, which is typically two days, it's hard to do in one day. If you haven't done it before the second unit you create after you use the process the first time, I think you can do it in one day. But those are the types of things that are super high leverage.

Because if you create a unit arc as a department, there's alignment, students are benefiting, teachers are benefiting. I've talked about this in other episodes. So you can see more in that in other places or hear more about that. But you get to reuse every single time you make a unit. If you're focused on priority standards and rubrics, every single time you give an assessment, you get to use that rubric, you get that alignment grades grade and students are familiar with that repeated rubric over and over again, they know what's to be expected of them super high leverage. So figure out what it is that teachers are actually creating by the end of the day and choose something high leverage the next piece. So we're gonna make space for it. We're going to specify what they're creating by the end, then we're going to invest time in the process. So as leaders as facilitators of this work, we want to make sure that the process they're going through is efficient, we're not giving too much information, we're giving just enough information. And if there's a hiccup or a challenge.

We're kind of refining us. We're going, so we're getting feedback from the participants were making it better and better. Each time we're going to have like a really excited team go first. A really forgiving team go first. A really honest team, go first so they can give us some feedback on the next department that goes and does this process on their day for an intensive is going to just have a much smoother time because maybe we created a template or something that didn't exist for the first team, but we realized it needed to exist because the first team told us it would have been helpful to have this Google doc where we can just kind of fill in this. So invest time in the process, you're going to refine as you go, it's not going to be perfect the first time. Make sure you're asking repeatedly for feedback and encouraging and creating a space where people do feel like they can give you honest feedback and then you're going to reuse that task specific process with teams each year. So ideally, these intensive are going to be things like in my opinion, unit creations should happen fresh each year. There are different things that are happening in the world. There are different interests that are students year to year have we want to capitalize on that?

We want to co create with students who want to tap into what's going on in the present day to leverage that excitement and enthusiasm students can bring to the table. And when they do, honestly, it's so much easier to teach and so much more fun. So think about the tasks that are going to be repeated each year, think about the things that are high leverage and make sure the process is really good that way anyone coming in to the district, to the school that's new just happened and have this established product, product process. There we go for creating now, final tips before I let you go. If you are, I'm trying to think of situations or you're like, oh, this may not work for me. So if it's impossible to do a full day, what you can do is I encourage you to try to find it. But if you can't treat each week's team time, so ideally you're going to have each team meeting once a week for maybe an hour or something. Um Each school district is different, but I'm just approximating here if each team meets for one hour a week, think of five weeks in a row as the intensive.

So in an intensive intensive, I do, it's typically like a six hour day, maybe have a lunch break of an hour. That's five hours, we can get a lot done in five hours. It's not going to be the same because again, the switching costs at the beginning and the end of the session are going to maybe impact us. It's going to be a little bit harder to kind of get into the flow states. If you have 90 minute team meetings even better, you'll need fewer than five sessions. But think about how you can create a five hour intensive in as few sessions as possible. So that when you come into that meeting, you're like, all right, here's where we picked up here, we're picking up from last time. Here's where we left off and you're doing nothing else. The team has literally nothing else. That's the most important part. If this is really going to work, they can't, you know, need to talk about this student or fill out this paperwork. Any five minute task is going to continue the task switching cost and you're going to lose that focus in that flow state. Nothing else but the focus task for five weeks in a row or whatever, however many sessions it takes to add up to five hours.

Another thing you can do to support here is create a like I think of an online training course because that's what I have like videos and templates that gives the teams the most essential. Absolutely need to know information and support in bite sized pieces so they can continue to create each week. It will help them focus more quickly, it will give them what they need, it will chunk the task into smaller pieces. So that each week it's like, okay if I can do this one thing. I'm in a good spot. I think about this because I recently redesigned my curriculum bootcamp online course. And it just had too much in it before. It wasn't bite sized pieces. I was trying to say all the things and there were videos that were as long, I think it was like 20 minutes long and there were too many videos and there were too many templates and I was like, Okay, what does it look like? If it is just the most important thing, if the tasks are really chunked into just the most important, you know, maybe like 6-8 chunks, what does that look like? And so I completely redesigned with that in mind. I think this is going to be super helpful for department teams, for individuals even.

And I think you can do that same thing if you yourself or one of your coaches or something, your department heads wants to create something like this. I think it's really powerful to be able to give just like, you know, a 5 to 10 minute video at the start of each session to really draw people back in, focus their attention. Get clear on what is the active creation piece that's happening in this one meeting? And what is the information or template that they need to be able to implement? Lastly, if you're hiring an external consultant, I think it's really important to ask them or co create the ready to implement products. So ask them by the end, what are my teachers, one of the participants of the intensive, what are they going to be able to have ready that they can implement the next day? Right? Or minimally like maybe the next week? So what is the thing that they will have created by the end of their time with you? I think this is a very fair question to ask. And honestly, if you are booking a workshop because that's what is on offer from an external consultant or PD provider. I would ask if they have intensive, I would ask if they are able to lengthen the time and help talk with you, right?

Co create. This isn't something they've done before let them know like this is something I want for my staff. I want them to create something they can implement the next day and I want them to do it with you in the room, the virtual room, the physical room, I want you to help create a process that they can put this into action. You can answer their questions where they get stuck or help them brainstorm if needed. That is what a coach does, right? Coach lets you, I mean in the sports metaphor, right? Like you're on the field, you're on the court, like you're doing the thing and the coach is there to help you to call a couple plays to give you a framework to do your thing, right? That's what we want a coach to be. I think about these intensive coaching intensive versus a PD provider who is kind of like a speaker, right? I've heard that a lot like your booking a speaker and whether it's a keynote speech or a workshop, I think we use that language a lot because you're often being spoken at when you're participant in those workshops. And I want you to have a coaching experience where people get to do the thing. It's ready to go at the end of the session and you get all the coaching that you need in the live component.

So intensive. I love them. I think they're awesome. They're super high leverage. It is, I would say 100 times better to invest in 1 $5000 day with a coach or consultant versus 22 hour sessions at $2500 a pop or something. Right? I think you're going to get so much more out of pooling your resources for one day of intensive with your staff versus hiring someone to come in. And do you know one or two or two or three um PD workshops that are a couple of hours throughout the year. There is a possibility for those to be effective. And I think that requires a container that exists in your PLC meetings or your team time so that, that work can continue and you have created space for people to implement. So it is possible not writing off workshops. I do a lot of them, but I do think you need to create that container. So if you can't do intensive, that's kind of the backup. But I highly recommend intensive. Please let me know if you have questions on this.

This is something that I've heard from a lot of people in education is that this concept of intensive is unfamiliar. It is not something that happens outside of other spaces or certainly not in this way. I'm curious to know what you think about this questions you have, let me know, send me an email. I am so excited for you to get to this and for our freebie, I think one of the hardest challenges, the first initial hurdles I talked about is like making the time. So I have a time guide, I make time a quick guide. I think I call it for leaders to be able to find time. There's a lot of different ideas there. And I linked, I think three other resources that will give you a deeper dive into some of the strategies that you can use to find that time. That's gonna be at Lindsay dot com slash blog slash 106. Alright. Everybody see you next week. If you're leaving this episode wanting more, you're going to love my live coaching intensive curriculum, boot camp. I help one department or grade team create feminist anti racist curricula that challenges affirms and inspires all students.

We leave current events into course content and amplify, stewed invoices which skyrockets engagement and academic achievement. It energizes educators feeling burned out and it's just two days. Plus you can reuse the same process any time you create a new unit which saves time and money. If you can't wait to bring this to your staff, I'm inviting you to sign up for a 20 minute call with me. Grab a spot on my calendar at www dot Lindsey Beth Lyons dot com slash contact. Until next time leaders continue to think big act brave and be your best self. This podcast is a proud member of the Teach Better Podcast Network better today, better tomorrow and the podcast to get you there, explore more podcasts at teach better dot com slash podcasts and we'll see you at the next episode.

106. MINDSET: Coaching Intensives vs. Workshops
106. MINDSET: Coaching Intensives vs. Workshops
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