Drink. That. In.
Facilitation is a chance at alchemy.
Maybe your current reality is this:
Staff meetings have been blah.
Data teams remind you of why you didn’t become an accountant.
Professional development feels like the twilight zone where people who teach others to learn have now gathered in an active rebellion of their own learning.
Shared space can get weird. Meetings can get funky.
And as leaders, we can find ourselves scratching our heads wondering what the heck is going on.
To become meeting magicians we have to first look at our mindset, beliefs, and intentions.
Just as everything in leadership goes, the work starts with us!
So your starting point might be that you don’t know quite what you want to create but you’re really clear on what isn’t working.
It actually is helpful to know what you don’t want.
An attitude of hurry up and get through it
Let’s say that’s your current reality. Now, ask yourself what you want in place of those three descriptors.
Purpose driven learning
Boat loads of inspiration
Clear intention that leads to easy and direct application
What core value do I want to connect with that can act as my North Star as I design meeting spaces of gathering and learning?
Tip: Core values can’t be measured and can’t be taken away. They are not other people’s jobs to create the conditions for, they are for you to fully commit to and take action on.
Example core values:
Whatever your core value is that will guide you, commit, like full body commit, to it right now!
So no matter what other people do within the meeting space, you know you will be living out your core value.
You’re probably already getting this, but designing the “perfect meeting” is an illusion. People will just keep on being people. They might come in grumpy, grieving, angry, and shut down. We can invite them to shift their emotional state, to join in to the spirit of the space, to embrace what’s possible. And they will decide if they want to take our extended hand.
So while the “perfect meeting” isn’t what we’re after, we are going to design a meeting of depth, purpose, and intention. See, I don’t believe in designing meetings for the most upset person on the staff or the most resistant learner. My advice to you today is to become your most visionary self and design a meeting YOU want to attend!
This will have you speaking to the other leaders in the room, the people who are really up to a big game of teaching and learning.
Now that you’ve committed to a guiding core value, it’s time to decide the intentions for the meeting.
Intentions have three parts:
Your intention as facilitator
The intended learning or outcomes
The intention of the individual participants
When crafting your intention as the facilitator consider,
What actual actions will I take in the meeting and what deliverables can I commit to?
How would I describe my “way of being” in the meeting? Am I modeling, guiding, holding space, asking questions?
What is something you are aspiring to do in the meeting? Inspire? Generate new ideas? Be provocative?
Name each aspect in your intentions. I tend to make bullet points for each. The goal is transparency so that others know exactly what we are up to and are being invited along for the ride.
The intended learning or outcome should be concrete and should be what they will walk out the door with. Don’t over promise or get too crazy here. Just name it.
Finally, all learning is co-created. Do they want to be inspired? Do they want to learn something new for their math instruction? Do they want to engage with their peers to develop a deeper understanding of data? Assume nothing. Ask.
“Given the stated intentions of the facilitator and our learning outcomes, what’s your intention for our time today? How do you want to feel? What do you want to create? Write it down.”
One of the most masterful facilitation moves is to get the deliverable off of your shoulders, get some skin in the game from others in the room. Instead of asking, “Did I do it?” Ask, “Did we create and experience what we together intended for this time?”
A vision. A value. Intentions.
They may seem simple but they are dismissed and missed all the time at the expense of school culture and personal enjoyment of the work.
It matters that you consider what you really want in each meeting and that you tap into your courage to claim it.
That’s where the alchemy beings.
More on facilitation next week.
In the meantime, send me any questions or pain points you are experiencing when you lead a team and I’ll do my best to share insights and tools that might help.
Together, we can create an experience of leadership that feels so freaking good and who we are and what we do when we facilitate is one essential part of it.