Yesterday I had the pleasure of leading a workshop on Team Building and Reflective Conversations.
It was a rare opportunity to pull together several pieces of my recent thinking on teaching, coaching and group dynamics among other topics into a lively learning experience for some of my colleagues. In my planning for the event I arrived at some critical insights:
- I don’t need to have all the answers,
- I cannot plan others’ experiences, and
- my job lies more in creating space than in conveying content.
These ideas helped me to let go of some typical teacher/leader/presenter tendencies to
- above all, appear competent,
- take up most of the air time,
- fear the unknowable.
What I learned was that participants sincerely appreciate having a chance to do their job well: participate. That is, to engage, be active, to give as well as receive, to hear and be heard. Any time that we dare to stand up and volunteer to share our expertise, it is easy to fall prey to a host of expectations, real and imagined, which assure us that we will be doomed unless we have our hands on the controls at all times. And yet we forget that, in many ways, we are often among friends, or among colleagues or folks who share an interest in our topic. We are surrounded by rich and remarkable resources in the particpants we have before us. What would happen if we tapped into those resources more fully? What could we create if we put more effort into facilitating exchange than in animating our power point? What if we actively shifted the spotlight from presenter/facilitator to participant-contributor?
My guess is that professional development, particularly in the field of education, would be radically enhanced. If many of us who have been carrying the reform banner in favor of a fundamental shift from teaching to learning would actively practice what we preach, fewer educators would dread PD that may be professional but hardly developmental. It’s also time to begin personalizing and significantly energizing the learning of our teachers. And it begins by inviting more of them to take the floor, to share the stage and to be recognized as experts and researchers. It is sustained by encouraging exchange, raising more questions than answers and accepting an outcome in which people may not know more but perhaps understand better.
Here’s what I love about offering a good workshop: many smiles, a good dose of laughter, genuine connection and a sense of time and attention well spent; another healthy investment in my personal and professional development.
Many thanks to my participants extraordinaire: Renee, Sheryl, Otti and Bonnie!