How to bring depth, zest, and purpose to transform any meeting into a gathering with MEANING
I believe that when we feel good at our work, we do better work and our lives are better.
It’s a simple theory but it’s at the heart of what drives my work these days.
And twice now, I’ve been sitting in my car or drying my hair in my bathroom when I stop and frantically write in the notes app on my phone everything I have learned about facilitation. I think about the art of leading teams from small DDI sessions to full staff compliance meetings. It’s a big deal to be in front of your colleagues and peers and to do your best on behalf of other people.
I feel like I’ve been in a decade-long science experiment about facilitating adults.
I still am.
Here’s the thing, facilitation is the discrete skill of leading teams or groups of people in the direction of a common goal or desired outcome and it’s different from teaching kids and it’s different from the skill of instructional coaching.
Yet, it’s rare that the skill of facilitation is ever explicitly taught to leaders who are expected to guide and gather with teams.
So we’re going to study it together because every coach and leader deserves to feel confident and comfortable when they stand at the front of the room.
Our blog series outline is as follows:
Introduction: Why cultivating your facilitation skills matters
This is what we’ll cover today!
PART 1: What is facilitation? The bowl and the storm
PART 2:The Mindset and Energy of Visionary Leaders
PART 3: Setting Intentions for Facilitation
PART 4: Setting the Space
PART 5: What to do with resistance
So welcome to the first in this 5 part series!
This will be brief but essential.
To be a great facilitator we need to consider WHY it even matters at all that we stand up at the front of the staff room and talk about our professional learning plan for math or WHY we work hard to dial in our data meeting agendas so that we can sit with our grade level team and talk about the progress of kids.
Here’s what I’ve found to be the most obvious but often missed answer to this question:
Why does facilitation matter?
Facilitation matters because it is our chance to put on display and live out our values. It’s where school culture comes to life.
The facilitation “stage” is where we show off everything we believe.
Now here’s the trick, we are either doing this consciously or unconsciously.
You know that meeting where the facilitator opened with something like this,
“Thanks for being here this morning. I know we are all super busy and stressed so I’m going to try to get through this quickly to honor your time . . .”
Seems kind of nice, I suppose, but deeply, DEEPLY uninspiring and disconnected from the larger vision of the work. This kind of opening conveys:
A culture of stress
The leader’s disbelief in the content they are about to share
To honor time means to be away from team and learning
Lack of importance
As facilitators our words and actions should be the embodiment of our intentions and our big vision for our work in the school. Imagine that who we are when we facilitate and how we show up in that moment is our best opportunity to create the school culture of our dreams.
Consider this opening instead and as you read it, imagine it being said slowly, with a genuine smile, not an ounce of rush, and a sensibility of gratitude:
“Welcome to our time together this morning. We’ve arrived and sometimes that is the hardest part. Now that we are together we get to enjoy the opportunity to connect with each other, to explore why our content matters and how it can be applied to our classrooms, and we get to consider where we want to take our learning next.”
It’s different and it makes a difference.
In the following posts, we’ll break down how to get clear on your approach to facilitation and what grounds you and directs you in the work.
If you know of any other coaches or school leaders who lead teams or are new to coaching, share this blog with them
Your coach in facilitation and leadership,