Planning Series BONUS Episode: Give Yourself the Gift of Time & Believe You Deserve It with Lori DollRead Now
Listen to the episode by clicking the link to your preferred podcast platform below:
Lindsay Lyons: I am super excited for this bonus episode where you get to listen to Lori Doll. Lori was born and raised in the Reno Tahoe area of Nevada, a place she will always call home. She graduated with a bachelor's in education (history) from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1987. She taught in northern Nevada for 13 years and she had a wide variety of experiences including technical schools, adult education, as both large, suburban and small rural high schools. In 2010. Her family relocated to Connecticut and she earned her master's in education technology from Central Connecticut State University where she was awarded a fellowship in the Educational Leadership Policy and Instructional Technology Department. But knowing her joy came from teaching adolescents, she went back to teaching middle and high school. And so she's currently teaching history at Bloomfield High School in Bloomfield, Connecticut. Lori was a student in my Work Less Teach More course. She has revolutionized her sustainable teaching practice and work-life balance and I can't wait for you to hear what her experience has been like in radically transforming that work life, particularly amidst a pandemic.
She also has created an amazing resource for you all around how she prioritizes her To-Do list, which we'll include in a link to the show notes and on our blog post/transcript for this episode. Get excited to listen to Lori Doll.
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Hi, I'm Lindsay Lyons and I love helping school communities envision bold possibilities, take brave action to make those dreams a reality, and sustain an inclusive, anti-racist culture where all students thrive, I'm a former teacher leader-turned instructional coach, educational consultant, and leadership scholar. If you are a leader in the education world, whether you're a principal, superintendent, instructional coach, or a classroom teacher excited about school wide change like I was, you are a leader. And if you enjoy nerding out about the latest educational books and podcasts, if you're committed to a lifelong journey of learning and growth and being the best version of yourself, you're going to love the Time for Teachership podcast. Let's dive in.
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Lindsay Lyons: Lori Doll.
Welcome to the Time for Teachership podcast.
Lori Doll: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Lindsay Lyons: I'm so excited that you're here and I'm so excited for our conversation and before we kind of jump into it, I just read your professional bio and so I'm wondering if there's anything else that you want to add to that or anything you think, you know, listeners should know as they kind of jump into this episode.
Lori Doll: So I have a variety of experience in education, but I must say that my favorite place to be is in the classroom, whether it's high school or middle school. So out of all the other experiences, this is... this is where I want to be and I actually left the collegiate level to come back here, because it makes me the happiest.
Lindsay Lyons: Oh, that's amazing. Thank you for sharing that. So one of the things that I always like to start the podcast episodes with is just this idea of Freedom Dreaming and Dr. Bettina Love talks about it as "Dreams grounded in the critique of injustice". And I think this just really situates all of the different work that we do as educators, and so I'm curious to know as we kind of get into this episode, what is that big dream that you hold for the field of education broadly? For educators?
You know, however you interpret that question.
Lori Doll: I think that I really would like to see more creativity and imagination come into our classrooms. I think that the way that american education has been going, we are so focused on the academic skills and test scores and that's all well and good because our kids need that. But I feel like in my years of being in the classroom that this generation has really stopped being imaginative. And I think it's several reasons why I think this overuse of technology, they don't have to imagine things because it's right there in front of them, but I also think it's that we have really taken out some of that creativity of just having fun in the classroom. Every, every activity has to be connected with the standard and it's not about just, you know, let's just enjoy learning today or enjoy each other's company today. And because of that, I think that we've stifled the creativity and because everything is linked to a standard, I think sometimes kids are afraid to try because they're afraid if they have the wrong answer or what they're going for is not exactly right, that perfectionism, they stop, they stifle themselves, they just stop.
And then with the technology again, I think they just don't have that quiet time that we need to focus to be creative. Sometimes we just need to sit in that quiet and take a few deep breaths and really think and contemplate and reflect. And I would like to see education get back to that, not just for our students, but for our teachers too, because I think teachers are becoming stifled as well. And we're losing the creativity and the love of learning that we carry to our students. You know, because if we're bored with our lesson plan, of course, the students are gonna be bored with our lesson plan. Like I, I don't want to have the classroom like, "Oh my God, I can't believe I'm teaching this. I'm so bored". I don't want that in my classroom. I really do feel I want to bring creativity and imagination, and of course you can have academic skills go along with that. And I think by pulling out opportunities from our campuses and separating into magnet schools and saying, "Oh, this is the vocational high school".
Well now the kid who wants to do AP classes, where are they going to be able to take a shop class or a cooking class and that's creativeness. That's where we put our math and our science into the application, but they don't have that opportunity. It's all academics or it's all vocational or it's all visual arts or it's..., you know. So I feel like we're really just doing a disservice to our students that way.
Lindsay Lyons: Oh my gosh, what a great answer. There's so much in that around, like, you know, what education could be as well as thinking from a student perspective and like you said, the educator perspective too, right? We need to take care of our educators and I think we'll talk a lot about that today in our conversation, but I think that's so critically important, this creativity element and just being able to have fun, right? Like you can hit the standards and then you can also have fun and you can have those days where you're in connection like you said. Oh my gosh, I just love everything that you said and I hope listeners rewind and listen to that part again. As you kind of think about this idea of educator wellness and thinking about maintaining that creative spark for educators, I'd love for you to talk about...
so let me back up, rewind, and so talking about the course that I developed, the Work Less Teach More course, that wasn't part for my dream, which is kind of what you're speaking to for educators. Like I want educators to live their lives to the fullest extent, both personally and professionally, to find that creative energy, to not feel burned out. And that's really common now that COVID has hit and so you took this course, you absolutely rocked it. I am just shocked and amazed by all of the amazing things you just kind of took and ran with and so I am so curious if you are willing to kind of go there and have conversation about, you know, what that was like for you? How did you put those concepts into action?
Lori Doll: Sure. So I am a self proclaimed workaholic, and my children who are in high school will say the same thing. They ask about my work ethic and say "Oh my parents work all the time". And we do really. We have this ideal of "This is important work that we're doing." But I let it take over my life and like, before I took your course I worked all the time. And even though I had kids and was taking care of kids, I would leave this-- I would get to the school at 6:30 in the morning and then I wouldn't leave until four or five o'clock at night, and then I would take care of all the activities that my kids were in and take care of my kids and put them to bed, and then I would go and work for another three or four hours.
I was getting like four or five hours of sleep at night. I was incredibly stressed and tired. I worked all the time and I had this mentality that everything had to be perfect. It had to be-- I had to always have something new and I always had to have this-- the perfect stuff and I let this perfectionism kind of take over my life. And I was tired and I was stressed and I wasn't happy teaching. That-- I had returned back into the high school classroom. The district I work at is great, but our curriculum is very prescribed at times and I really didn't like the methods that they wanted us to use. But as a person who's kind of a perfectionist in their job, I got to do what I'm asked to do and I have to do when I'm asked to do it. So I let that kind of... that kind of take over, this perfection takeover. And so, in March of 2020, before lockdown, my husband had a heart attack.
And so, things were so crazy then and I just, I didn't know what I was going to do because we really co-parent and now he's like on the sidelines and I have all this stuff to do and I have to do his stuff. And it was crazy and I was on Facebook like, yes I still had time to scroll through Facebook and I saw your ad for your course and I'm like, "I gotta try something". So you have like a little introduction to the course, I'm like, "Oh my God, I need this. I really need to do this". And so I purchased the course and then we went into lockdown so then everything changed because we were all quarantined. My whole family was at home, working from home, learning from home, teaching from home. And so we were, you know, it was just like overwhelming and then school really took over my life because I was doing everything all the time. I was online all the time helping the kids and the kids wanted to have school like between nine p.m. and 12 p.m. Like that's when they were up, they were sleeping during the day and at first we didn't do Zoom classes or anything like that.
So it was really just all up in the air and like, gosh I really need to get organized. So I started going through your course and like, the first one of the first lessons was your schedule. Like, "Budgeting Your Time" and that just like was a lifesaver, you know. So I set boundaries, this is what I'm teaching, this is when I have family time and it really... it really helped. So and setting priorities in my life. What do I want? What do I want for my classroom? What do I want for my kids? What do I want for my relationships? And by setting priorities and being able to say "No, you know, I can't do that right now". It really set the tone for when I was gonna schedule. And so and then I love research. Like, research is one of my favorite things to do. So I am that teacher that when I go to lesson plan, I go down the rabbit hole, not because I'm getting lost but because I want to dig deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper.
And so I learned to set a timer. Really setting that timer, sticking to certain sites. Not, you know, and it's not that I can't go there. I bookmark a lot of stuff now, I'll come back to that. We'll look at that later. So that has helped as well to cut down that time. And then the way that you divided time into the 40, 50, 10. It was a huge help because it was like an assessment. I don't need to grade everything, which I didn't always grade everything, but it really helped kind of like pinpoint those key things that I want to assess and with the standards, I would say, okay, we're looking at key detail today. So that is all I'm going to look at in this constructive response is key detail or citing evidence or whatever the standard I'm--, that's all I'm gonna grade, nothing else. Like I'm not going to grade if they had a good topic sentence or anything else, just very focused on what skill we're doing. And by focusing that, grading became controllable and then my favorite is the professional development.
So like, I love learning. Like, I love, love learning. So being able to listen to podcasts and sign up for classes and doing that is great. And although I don't do a lot of it in my prep time, I do--, I have put for my commute time, I do a lot of listening to podcasts and audiobooks and in different things. And it also allows me to kind of decompress for the day, like this is just my time and I get to learn and I get to learn what I want to learn. And so it's been really helpful there and I put that into my practice. I really try to find new things to put into my pedagogy and to really try to just be a great teacher because that's what I-- that's what I am. I want to be a great teacher and I'm getting there. I think I'm okay. The kids like this. I get better every day and that's all I ask of all my students is you just got to get a little better every day and I think that's like the biggest takeaway from me. That there's no guilt, just do what you need to do, get it done when you can, and do the best you can.
So, and the stress level is really gone down, although even through the pandemic and the hybrid teaching last year, which was just nuts. I was able to, you know, kind of keep it together, which really was good for everybody. My kids thought it was really good too.
Lindsay Lyons: Yeah. Oh my gosh, I love, I love the kind of overview of like all the things, all the practices and mindset shifts that you kind of got and put into action. And I love that you're kind of going there now towards this idea of like lowered stress and what that looks like. Could you kind of paint us a picture for like, I know you painted us a picture of what did life look like, you know, a few years back. That, like, exhaustion and like the constant working, sleeping four hours a night, what does it look like today? Like what is your day to day? Either in work or out of work? However you want to answer that question real quick.
Lori Doll: Yeah, so now I still come in the morning between 6:30 and 7 but if I'm having a slow morning, I'm good to get here at 7:10. Like, I don't stress out about it.
It's like, okay, I'm just a little later today. I do like, I wouldn't say I'm a morning person, but I definitely am more productive in the morning, so my prep periods all in the afternoon. So I do like to come a few minutes, half hour earlier to kind of do that, for me, and I'm also able to kind of focus. I do my calendar in the morning and so that really helps me, you know, focus my day. So I set three or four priorities. This is what I want to complete today before I leave. And so it just kind of keeps me focused. I also, at the end of the day I say I'm done with any schoolwork. I still sometimes take school work home, but I say after nine o'clock it's done. The computer shut. I shut down my computer. I don't look at my emails, I don't look at my text messages like I'm done, I'm gonna get ready for bed and I try to be asleep by 11. So it's still pretty late for me. My husband thinks I'm crazy. He goes to bed at eight, so it's like, "11?
Oh my God", but for me, I just need that time and it's my time and I'll crochet. I finished a beautiful afghan for my mother over lockdown and it wasn't because I was sitting at home. It was because I actually budgeted time to do it. So I was able to finish this afghan and I really did budget time. Like I said, I'm gonna work on this for a half hour. I'm gonna work on this for an hour. And I try to do that when I, when I sit down and do my schedule, I usually do it Sunday night or Monday morning and I make this To-Do list and then I schedule my To-Do list. So I don't only, I not only schedule what appointments if I have and, and meetings and things like that. Well, if I have to grade papers, I schedule a time to grade the papers. If I have to, if I want to go out to dinner with my friends. I put that in the schedule. And then it's there and I look at it and I'm like, "Oh, I have to get all this done because over here I have this that I want to do". And I try to get at least 5-10 minutes for myself.
Like if I'm going to crochet, or I'm going to go out with friends, or play games, or just something that's me. And then I always budget time for our family. [inaudible] Sometimes that's difficult with, we kind of have to rearrange things to accommodate their schedules. But we really try to eat as a family every night and come together. And that family time is so important to us. So being able to do that and again, it's just budgeting time. And the stress level of my house is so much better for all of us. And we had to make these lifestyle changes because of my husband's health and we want to be good role models for our kids. Like I don't want my kids to be in jobs and just stress over work all the time. I want them to know what a balanced life is as well.
Lindsay Lyons: Yes. Oh my gosh, yes. I think about like my personal journey to teaching and I started as a kid being like "I will never be a teacher" because I had two teacher parents who would bring home the stress and be like, "I have a ton of work to grade" and all these things and I think "That's what teaching is. I don't want that." And then I realized there's all the good, which is why they stay in the jobs. But sometimes kids don't see that when we take that home, so that's such a good point, I appreciate that.
And as you kind of think about, I know you talked a lot about like some mindset shifts, some specific practices. If there is a person who is currently kind of where you were two years ago, what are the things you would emphasize for them or what would you want them to know in terms of like either what is possible, what can be done, or anything that you haven't said so far that you want to make sure that they kind of come away from this episode knowing.
Lori Doll: That's-- you, you can do this. You have to believe that you can balance your life. And like, my life is not perfect and I'm working at it every day. It's a process. I always tell myself it's a process. You're getting better and there are goals that I want to meet and set. But I want people to know that they can do this, and if you start doing this, and budgeting your time, and really telling yourself you don't have to have everything done at the end of the day, that you can come back to it, reschedule.
that's okay and that-- then take the baby steps. Like, if you feel that you can't leave at three o'clock every day, then just leave 10 minutes earlier than you did yesterday, and then the next day, 10 minutes earlier than the next day. So you-- sometimes you can't do it all at one time. I think for me, it was so transformative because of lockdown. Like, it was like the whole world was changing and everybody was in this like up in the air kind of position, that it was easier for me to just throw everything up in the air and change everything. So, but that's not possible. when we're not in that situation. So little changes. Like, little things. Start making a To-Do list and putting it in your calendar, or start saying, "Okay, I have 90 minutes and 45 is going to be for planning," and set your timer. And go just these little changes and little changes end up to be big changes. Habits that you form just and if you say "I gotta do this" and I don't, don't be guilty, don't kill yourself with guilt.
Just start again. Like, because I think as a perfectionist that I know I still am. Like, it's still, I'm a perfectionist, I want everything to be perfect in my way. Kind of selfish that way. I know that if I let myself feel guilty or try to punish myself for not getting things done, that it's going to be counterproductive. So I have to let that go. I would, I would forgive a student, you know, we're always giving our students second chances. Well, don't be so hard on yourself. Give yourself a second chance. And then find ways to motivate yourself. Like, just find ways to say "This is what I want," and again and believe that you deserve it. You deserve it. Believe in yourself. Believe that your time is a gift. And by setting those priorities, you are giving yourself the gift of time. So it's-- and I think that's important to know that you're worth it. Like, I think sometimes teachers, we are givers and we give, give, give. So, but you're worth it.
You're-- the gift is yours. So you should take it.
Lindsay Lyons: Oh my gosh. Yes, exactly that. I'm just going to echo that. That is, that is exactly right. And I think there's so much pressure that we as, like you were saying, as givers, we put on ourselves to just be there for everyone else. Our families, our students, our colleagues, our-- just everyone, and we can't show up for those people if we don't like give to ourselves. And so I love that you, you framed that that way, that the guilt too is just kind of like a... I've heard it called like a shame shower also, right? It's just like, I'm so ashamed and like that guilt is not helpful. It's not productive. It's not generative. And I love that that is kind of hopefully a big takeaway for listeners. It's just like, don't get it done. Don't take that guilt with you. It just doesn't get done and we'll come back to it. It's fine.
Lori Doll: Yeah, It's, you know, it's--, we're really--, in my district were really trying to do growth mindset and we have to have a growth mindset for ourselves as well. We have to be able to say it's a process.
And you know, sometimes it goes well and sometimes it doesn't and we just have to really believe that we'll get there.
Lindsay Lyons: Absolutely. And I think one of the things that can feel overwhelming is kind of the big difference between like where I am now and then where I could be or where I want to be and it's sometimes it just feels so overwhelming. Like you were saying with COVID, I'm sure like all of it is so overwhelming because everything is changing, right? And there's so much overwhelm. And in a way, I love that you had a positive frame. Like, in a way that's good because you're like, all right. Let's throw it all out and restart. And in other ways I think some people could get stuck in that overwhelm. So I'm curious to know if someone's kind of listening and like, "Yes, I want this transformation for myself, but I'm stuck kind of in the overwhelmed phase of, I don't know where to just start". Like, what's the first step or what's the most important step that you would say to someone if there's one takeaway they have, that that would be it.
Lori Doll: For me, it was budgeting my time. And making a schedule. So I make my schedule every week.
And so, and I know that if I miss that Sunday night or Monday morning, my week-- I play catch up. I play catch up every single day because I've missed that. And I don't like that. So I try not to do that. Like, that's my motivation. I know what I'm going to feel like on Wednesday. So let's get it done tonight. And so, and to realize you're never going to budget everything. Like, you're never going to get everything in there. So really prioritize. So prioritize and schedule. Those were the two big steps that helped me the most. I am a really productive person. Like I, it wasn't that I wasn't getting things done, I wasn't overwhelmed because I wasn't getting things done. I was overwhelmed with the amount of time I was spending doing things that were not important to me. And so by prioritizing and scheduling, now I'm still busy, like my kids still say I work a lot, but now I am working on the things that are important to me, important to make my students stronger students, important to make my school a stronger school and on the personal side,
my family life, my spiritual life, all of that is what's, you know, important. So that's what I budget for. Budget my time. And so, you know, and I still, like if I want to binge watch something, I just put it on the schedule. it's not like I'm working all the time, but it's just really, so if people feel overwhelmed, make your list of priorities, 3 to 4 things that are really important to you for the week and then schedule. And I say schedule everything. Like, my husband still does it To-Do list. He says, "I don't get through my To-Do list". I'm like "Put it in your calendar". Like, don't just write it on a piece of paper, put it in your calendar and then you say this is what I'm working on this. And you still have phone calls and emails that kind of trip you up. But you can always put that on the calendar too. Like this is my email time. This is my phone call time.
Lindsay Lyons: Oh my gosh, yes. Put it on the calendar. I love that. That is amazing.
So as you kind of think about or as we kind of move to close, close the episode today, I think this is just a really fun question to think about. It's not really necessarily related to what we're talking about, although it can be, but I just love that everyone who's on the podcast as a guest is a lifelong learner and kind of self described as like being excited about their personal or professional growth. And so I'm just curious about, it could be totally related, unrelated to work or again unrelated to this conversation. What's something that you've been learning about lately?
Lori Doll: So my modern world history class right now is looking at World War I. And I haven't--, this is the first year I've taught modern world history in about 13 years. So it's been a long time since I've taught this class. And so I'm like relearning everything too from the European kind of world perspective I've taught of course World War I in US history. So we're looking at the impacts of war through art and we're looking at two artists.
One is Anna Ladd who created these prosthetic masks for the mutilated faces of war wounded warriors. And so and how this sculptor, she was a sculptor, I was able to create these masks and then we're looking at the impact on their lives. So the kids are looking at not only the mask but like why would they need the mask? And like we were in class and like "These aren't... these aren't so bad, why do they need a mask? Like why, you know, I'm not, this isn't disturbing, this is dull, why would they need this? Why can't they just go around", and I go "Why don't you think it's disturbing?" And so then we got to talk about culture where they're exposed to so much more through the internet and through movies and the people in 1918 weren't and this was just so grotesque to them that they were never exposed to disability like this.
And so that we had a great discussion about, "Do we need to mask disability? And is this something that we have to hide? Do we have to hide our flaws?" So that was just like a great teachable moment that I just loved. And then we're also looking at Kathe Kollwitz who lost her son, a german artist who lost her son in World War I and her reaction and her sketches and etchings that display the loss and the grief and the anger for war widows and mothers and children,
Lindsay Lyons: Wow, that is powerful. I am really excited as a former history teacher, I want to like now dive into those artists, more about what they've done. That's amazing in terms of the conversation that's coming out of that and I love that you are so creative in what you're bringing to the class and also how you let the class kind of go where it needs to go. That's really inspiring.
Lori Doll: And again, that was all through art and creativity and bringing in, you know, we didn't have to read a speech and it wasn't political and it wasn't, I mean, we could talk about the politics and bring that in later, but all they did was like, look at this lady's work with Anna Ladd and look at how the men were reacting when they were because they filmed it. There's film of it, so that it's just amazing that we have that archive and then with the work with Kathe Kollwitz,
it's-- it really is, I mean, they're just sketches, but they're so powerful and the kids connect with that because they're human beings. They're little human beings that connect and they have brains. And they can make the connections to the politics and as curriculum wise, you know, with like we need to look at the Treaty of Versailles and we need to look at the boundaries on our map and that's all fun. I mean, I love that stuff. Don't get me wrong, I love looking at maps and I love looking at treaties, but I think to make it-- to find that love and for the kids finding the creative side of it and finding what they connect to, then that will spark their curiosity to say, "Well why would we have this for?" Like, you know, and now that I just said that I made you this unit at the beginning and not the middle, right, and make that the connection to find, why did this happen? So that's-- that is something else that I learned in your class is really reflecting and I've tried to reflect and so yeah, I have [inaudible] write that down.
Lindsay Lyons: That is a brilliant idea. Yeah, definitely write that down. I love that as a creative book. and then I guess the final question, I thank you so much. First of all for sharing so much great information and wisdom throughout this episode. But I think a lot of people are going to be like, okay, I want to learn more. I want to follow what you're doing or I just have questions. If people have questions or want to just kind of connect, where would you recommend they go to be able to do that? So I don't have a huge online presence, which is crazy because my masters is in educational technology. But I, I do have my PLN on Twitter @mrsldoll yeah @mrsldoll. So that's my twitter. And that's really my PLN and I, you know, that's where I go to follow people and get information. And then my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. So if they have questions. But I put it on my big dreams, you know, find time to create a website and be more online.
Have that presence.
Lindsay Lyons: That is fantastic. And I am so excited for people to connect with you and learn more from you. Thank you so much Lori. This has been a wonderful conversation. I just really appreciate your time and being here on the podcast today with us.
Lori Doll: Well thank you because it's your course that really has changed my life. So you really impacted my life and I appreciate it. Thank you.
Lindsay Lyons: Thank you so much.
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Lindsay Lyons: Thanks for listening, amazing educators. If you loved this episode you can share it on social media and tag me @lindsaybethlyons or leave a review of the show, so leaders like you will be more likely to find it. Until next time, leaders, continue to think big, act brave, and be your best self.
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This month, we are diving back into the archives looking at episodes from March of season one. So this was last year 2021. Taking the most popular episodes from our mini planning series and revisiting them because this is relevant information for any year. Any year of your practice, even if you want to re-listen, this is content that folks have said, they have actually gone through my course on this several times and found extreme value in looking at it at different parts throughout the pandemic, different year to year, just having a different planning process, teaching different things, or just needing a refresher on what that content reminded them to do.
So I hope you enjoy, from the archives, our planning series. This is gonna be five episodes in March. It includes how do you spend your time, all of the tips on planning, the beliefs that get in the way, advancing wellness and efficient effective lesson planning. Be sure to listen to them all or if you're just using a refresher, listen to the ones that you think a refresher would be incredibly valuable for you and inspiring for you to paint that picture of what it looks like to take less work home, be more efficient effective and really your best teacher or educator or leader self.
Welcome to our last part, Part six of our mini planning series.
This is episode 23 of the Time for Teachership podcasts and we are talking about lesson planning faster, how to become more efficient and effective with our lesson planning. So it doesn't take up so much time that we don't have time to be well.
Hi, I'm Lindsey Lyons and I love helping school communities envision bold possibilities, take brave action to make those dreams a reality and sustain an inclusive, anti racist culture where all students thrive. I'm a former teacher leader turned instructional coach, educational consultant and leadership scholar. If you are a leader in the education world, whether you're a principal superintendent instructional coach or a classroom teacher excited about school wide change like I was, you are a leader and if you enjoy nerding out about the latest educational books and podcasts, if you're committed to a lifelong journey of learning and growth and being the best version of yourself, you're going to love the Time for Teachership podcast. Let's dive in.
Before we get into the step by step, I want to first talk about a necessary mindset shift from personal experience.
I know the following to be true. Covering content and the mindset around covering content lowers student engagement and student achievement. I believe the fastest way to actually amplify students engagement and build student's skills and achievement is actually to stop trying to cover the traditional curriculum map that's often overloaded with content and instead creates four justice centered units that enables students to dive deep, explore their skills, make mistakes, revise their work, resubmit, learn from feedback, collaborate, dive into the sub topics and niche topics within what we're doing as a class and really learn deeply.
That's what's engaging to students and what ultimately moves the needle or what I've seen. Move the needle for my students towards massive skill development and ultimately a student achievement. So before doing anything else, the most important shift we can make is to move our lesson planned goal from cramming a bunch of content into one lesson to developing independent learners to enabling students to go deeply into a topic to explore what's interesting to them, to make mistakes, to revise, resubmit and build up their skills.
I found when I use terms like cover content, even if I wasn't speaking those terms out loud, even if I was just thinking them to myself, the way that I planned with that mindset, my students were not retaining what I wanted them to retain anyways.
so it's better to focus on doing less but make sure students were actually learning from it. The things that may have been important to teach years ago, names, dates, they're Google-able now. Students can write any question about any date or any event and find that information immediately on Google. If we see schools as mechanisms for learning what will be valuable to know later in life, the skill of learning how to Google a question, how to ask a question and get an answer is more important than memorizing a bunch of stuff that Google will always have available for them. And that's a big mindset shift from how I was taught. So again, it's more important, students are able to find to analyze to apply new information, then memorize a predetermined list of facts. And once I made that shift, that mindset shift, that was a huge shift in advancing my students learning and definitely an increase in their engagement.
So if you find yourself spending hours making many lessons like I used to or lecture based lessons right? You might ask yourself, how could I teach the same content and have the students practice a different skill than listening and note taking.
For example, when I prepped for lectures, I would read through a textbook, I would make a slide deck. I would create a guided worksheet with like some fill in the blank options for students to write correct answers. To prep a lesson like this. It took about four hours. I was reading full chapters of textbooks and I was trying to condense all of the content, all of the content. I don't want students to miss anything and I would try to cram that all in to a lesson which was difficult. I also felt like I was reducing the rigor of the task itself of reading comprehension. If I would just give them a textbook, I feel like it might even have been easier. But I thought I was helping. If I were to prepare the same length of lessons, lets say it was an hour long lesson previously took four hours. If I were to prep one that was students centered same topic, here's what that would look like and what it eventually looked like when I made this shift it was find a text or maybe a couple of texts, generate one or two really big questions, lofty questions, driving questions that students would answer, and choose a text based protocol from my resource bank.
So I have talked before about the importance of purposeful protocols and developing unit arcs that repeat these purposeful protocols. So students don't have to learn new protocols or new activities. They don't have to learn the step by step process of how to do the learning. They can focus instead on the learning because they already know the protocol because it's repeated every week or every couple of weeks. So I'm gonna choose the text based protocol, I'm going to choose a text and I'm gonna pose one or two big questions for students to answer. Using that text prepping like that. It took 30 minutes. My planning became so much easier when I made that mindset shift and my students were developing text analysis skills. Now of course this is just one way that I could develop a student centered lessons. There are many types not always driven by text, text annotation or text reading.
That's one example, this example of the mindset shift and how it leads to preparing more strategically, more effectively and more efficiently is one that I want you to take away from here. And when we're talking about actually writing out your lesson plan for any given lesson, the secret I want to share is that most of my best lessons actually did not have a formal lesson plan. For the first few years, I taught lesson plans at my school were checked every day, so I was teaching like seven different classes each day and so I have seven completely different lesson plans that were often multiple pages long and I eventually got to a school where that wasn't required.
I understand that some people have to write lesson plans in a format that their administrators require. If you're an administrator, that currently requires something like that. I invite you to keep listening because I think there is such great value in providing maybe some key ideas that need to be present in a lesson plan without having to go through the formalized process typing everything out.
When I felt like I was scripting my lessons, I felt like I was taking away from my time to choose a really effective resource or some other piece of the planning process to be really, really clear here. I planned my best lessons. I just didn't type out a formal lesson plan. My slides usually became my lesson plan. They showed the essential question the activity stems, the protocol steps, the text that we were using the links to all the things. The slides were just kind of way of housed that. We used to joke in the New York city Department of Education that legally you could submit a lesson on a napkin. You just legally have to show you had been thinking strategically about your lesson plan, you thought it through, has some instructional design components.
I don't think you necessarily need to type up that thinking as long as you do the thinking and the thinking in the lesson plans are generating results. We can be more flexible and what that looks like. So I want to talk to you a little bit about what my process looks like and what I recommend to teachers who are trying to streamline their planning process.
The thing I invested my time into was not scripting, was not filling out all of the pieces of the lesson plan template. It was about being really in alignment with my broader core schools. So what I often call outcomes, my course long rubric, which features the outcomes and their definitions of mastery and summit of assessments which assess for those outcomes not typing on my script. To me, an effective lesson plan is one that works for you. So again, this is going to vary for each individual teacher. Each individual teacher has a different way that they plan. But there are some concrete elements that are the same right that have to be present when we're talking about quality, instructional design throughout. Every lesson plan is going to be an outline of your ideas and a check for alignment with your larger unit or core schools, that's the basis from which your lesson actually emerges.
So what would a less dense, more streamlined lesson plan actually look like. Here are the core elements of the lesson that I think serve the needs of both teachers and administrators, who want to make sure the teachers have a structure where they can share and think through concretely pieces of quality instructional design. First, the end goal, we need to be able to name the end goal and again, you don't have to maybe type this all out, but you have to be able to think about and articulate. If asked, what is the end goal? What's the final outcome? So if you know exactly what your students need to do for your Summit of Assessment at the end of the unit, you're good.
What are you working towards that is your end goal. Next you want to have a lesson focus and when I say focus, I mean really narrow it down here, what is the one thing, no more than one thing. One thing you want students to walk away knowing or being able to do. If they didn't have anything else from the lesson. If they didn't get anything else, what is the one thing that you need them to be able to get into do? I would rather have students do one or maybe two things really well, then get exposure to several skills and tons of content but not retain or master any of it. Less is truly more here depth over breadth.
Next I would think about the phase of learning if we think about the lesson in the context of a series of lessons in the context of perhaps a unit we want to ask, is this particular lesson the students first introduction to a new skill or content. Are you giving students more practice with a previously introduced skill in this particular lesson or third option, might students be putting the final touches on a skill or assessing for mastery towards the end of the unit?
Where are we in the phase of learning? What this does by naming this or thinking through this, it helps keep your expectations for student performance in line with the amount of time students have had to work on a skill. I know for myself I definitely used to provide too little time for students to really master skill and I'd often used as an excuse, "But I need to cover my content." I need to cover all the content in the curriculum map that I was handed day one as my rationale. But if students aren't actually getting anything, if they're not building skills, if they're not learning the content and deeply understanding what we're talking about the themes of the course, then it doesn't matter how fast we pace, they're not getting it.
So it's really helpful for me to think about, "Am I enabling students to move through all of the phases of learning and giving them enough time to do so."
It's also just a really good check to ensure that for each skill or a piece of content, if we want to speak numerically we have at least one lesson per phase in the unit or in the course. Perhaps if you have some supporting skills that are only touched on a few times throughout the entire course, we need to have at least one in the course, for each of those skills. For our priority standards, I would say they have to come up the absolute minimum one lesson per phase in each unit. Because those priority standards are coming up again and again, we really need to spiral the skill throughout all of our units throughout the whole course to be able to get them to truly master it.
If you feel here, like you're saying, "I do not have time for this Lindsey, I don't have time to practice this skill or this content understanding with minimally three lessons, one for each phase." Focus on fewer skills and content. Maybe you're trying to do 25 priority standards and you only get eight.
My suggestion is eight. Four to eight priority standards are standards that you can make sure you move through and hit on every single unit, at least one lesson per phase in each unit, focus on fewer skills, focus on fewer content, less is more and depth over breadth. That's going to be the refrain throughout this streamlined planning process.
Now, once we get down to the lesson flow so far, just to recap, we started with the end goal, we've gone to the lesson focus and then we talked about the phase of learning. So this skill or content, how often has it been practiced before? Where are we in the phase of learning as we see this lesson in its larger context of a unit or course. Now we want to talk about specifically the lesson flow or the activities. I think oftentimes we go right there and that's where our instructional design is lacking. That's the whole purpose of a lesson plan. For me it does it have that backwards design quality instructional design piece.
We could design an amazing standalone lesson but it likely won't help us to reach the larger goals unless it's aligned with those larger goals, we have the backwards plan.
So let's talk about the lessons flow, the activities, these are your core protocols, some people call them activities, I call them protocols in line with the EL Educations protocol list. These are your core protocols for the lesson, that's what we're doing here in this section. I encourage you to stick with one main activity for student work time. You can also add in a hook and an assessment activity to kind of bookend the main activity but start with just one. We're really trying to niche down here. We're trying to do less to get more within this section of the plan. You may want to know just one or two key questions that students are answering during each protocol.
So how much time you think each of those protocols or activities will take and what resources that you might need. When you're first planning you might just want to name, I need to get this resource and I suggest planning out the full lesson and then circling back later as a separate activity. We talked earlier in this planning series about the cost of switching tasks, planning the lesson and actually looking up the materials, the resources are two different tasks and we pay a cost mentally when we're trying to switch back and forth.
And so I would keep those separate in this lesson plan. You're doing three things, you are noting the key question students are answering during each protocol. Each protocol may have a different question, depends on your lesson and how you're designing it. How much time you think each activity or protocol will take and also what resources you may need. Those are the three essential pieces of the lesson flow.
So let's say you like to lecture, you may want to start by looking at the amount of time that you're talking during the class and try to reduce that so that you can increase the amount of time that students have to talk or to work. We want them grappling with the content or skills, we want the main protocol to take up a lot of time so that they can really dig deep and if we're talking during the whole lesson, they don't get that time that they need to practice and dig in to make mistakes and to have us be able to help them with those mistakes and work through those mistakes and give them feedback that makes them better learners.
So I found that trying to limit my number of slides actually does help me to lessen my talk time and to really focus actually on one core concept. I try to use just maybe 10 slides per mini lesson and I don't have a lot of stuff on each slide.
Maybe I'm talking for a total of 15 minutes, just over one minute, 1.5 minutes per slide. It's not a hard and fast rule. You can definitely have more than 10 slides for many lessons and you can talk for more than 15 minutes. But I would pick numbers that work for you and I would challenge yourself to stretch a little bit in order to streamline your many lessons, the less time that you're talking, the fewer slides that you have to prepare, it allows you to teach in the moment. It allows you to see what the students are doing in their work time and give them that formative feedback that we know is really, really powerful in moving the needle forward on student learning.
There are more things that could go into your lesson plan than just the ones that we talked about. But the odds are, you're probably already thinking about those things as you plan. They tend to come up just in teachers perfectionism like those are the things that we're thinking about, what worksheet did they have or oh do they have access to this Google doc or you know, whatever it is, if those things don't automatically kind of come up for you, if you're not thinking about them organically, you can definitely type them out. If that helps you plan, you can add them to the lesson plan, but I would encourage you again, we're going for efficiency here to write down just what you need to organize your ideas and ensure that this lesson gets the students where they need to go.
We don't need to spend too much time typing things out unless it's maybe a formal observation or you know, you have guests coming in and they've requested a lesson plan ahead of time, if you type a little bit more there, but really we want to make sure we are backwards planning and outlining the alignment pieces and then just noting again those three key things in the lesson flow, key questions students are answering during each protocol, how much time each protocol is going to take and what resources you may need and then of course you can find and link those after.
The other piece of this is if you do have an administrator or district policy of needing to have a typed up written lesson plan every day. Again I would push back on the requirements and trust teachers to to do that process well again. We have to make sure that the results back that up, but if they are getting results, I would push back on that requirement. But if you do have that, if you're a teacher who is in that situation, what I would encourage you to do is to create and this is I've done this so I can definitely speak from experience here that this has helped me in that specific context, to create lesson plans in whatever template you need to use that are specific to a particular type of lesson that centers a particular protocol.
You're still using these concrete ideas here that we just shared in the streamlined lesson planning and I'll share a template with you as well. So if you do need a template to work off of, you can have that if you don't have one specific to your district. But as you go through those and embed those key ideas, what you can do is for every day, again, if you're using the unit arc where you're repeating protocols.
Okay, every Monday we do Socratic seminar or every Thursday we have wind time or whatever it is. Whatever protocol you're using if you repeat those, you have a lesson plan with that protocol typically with the resources that our students facing for that protocol already ready to go. All you're doing is substituting the key questions that are content specific and key resources. Everything else becomes kind of plug and play. It can stay where it is. You adjust for content but the pedagogy itself or the protocol and the flow of the lesson remains the same. That I find to be a time saver as well.
I told you I would share a freebie with you so I'm going to share the streamlined lesson planning template with you. I created that for you that is at bit.ly/streamlinedLP. The LP because bit.ly links are case sensitive. The LPs capital so bit dot li slash streamlined lower case and then capital L capital P. Also drop that link in the show notes, this takes us to the end of our planning series. We have at six different episodes within the six part planning series.
If you have not listened to them all go back and check them out. We had the first one on how to spend your time. We talked about the 50 40 10 planning time approach. Leaders can use that as well. That bundle includes specific templates for leaders in part two all the tips. We talked about building momentum, habit formation, tips for sustainable scheduling. In part three, we talked about rethinking the underlying beliefs that get in our way of transformation. In part four we talked about clearing the mind and how to do that, how to make our mind clear so that we have more energy and focus and presence as we show up for our students and our colleagues. Part five, we were talking about advancing our personal wellness and the six elements of wellness, not only why for our personal sake, but for our school's sake, that is something that we want to do. And then of course in this one we talked about efficient, effective lesson planning.
If you are thrilled by this planning series and you're like, give me more, I have more for you I have an in depth walkthrough of exactly how I transformed and how I suggest others transform and I have coached others to transform their planning processes.
It is called the work less, teach more courses as an online self paced course. Now open for enrollment at 197 my professional and mental well being is worth way more to me than $200. You can enroll today by going to bit.ly/wltmcourse. Of course I cannot wait to help you achieve heightened wellness, exponentially higher student achievement and overall job satisfaction. If you're a school leader who wants that for your teachers, I have had many teachers enroll in the course because their principles bought it for them and I want to say to all those principles, thank you. This is a great gift for your teachers, true investment and personal development that will last a long time. Right? This is a repeatable system. These structures and processes that I talked about in the course are things that teachers can use again and again on a day to day basis. It opens up their energy and their time commitment to be able to engage in the big transformational changes that we're always trying to push.
You can pilot it for one department or grade team or invest for the whole school. If you as a leader or an instructional coach or a teacher want to chat to see if the course would be a good fit, go ahead and throw me an email. I'm at email@example.com. That is a wrap on our mini planning series next week we'll get back to our regularly scheduled program with a guest. Thanks for listening, amazing educators. If you loved this episode, you can share it on social media and tag me at Lindsay Beth Lyons or leave a review of the show. So leaders like you will be more likely to find it to continue the conversation. Until next time leaders, continue to think big, act brave, and be your best self.
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This month, we are diving back into the archives looking at episodes from March of the season one. So this was last year 2021. Taking the most popular episodes from our mini planning series and revisiting them because this is relevant information for any year. Any year of your practice, even if you want to really listen, this is content that folks have said. They have actually gone through my course on this several times and found extreme value in looking at it at different parts throughout the pandemic, different year to year, just having a different planning process, teaching different things, were just needing a refresher on what that content reminded them to do.
So I hope you enjoy from the archives, our planning series. This is gonna be five episodes in March. It includes, how do you spend your time, all of the tips on planning, the beliefs that get in the way, advancing wellness and efficient effective lesson planning.
Be sure to listen to them all or if you're just using a refresher, listen to the ones that you think a refresher would be incredibly valuable for you and inspiring for you to paint that picture of what it looks like to take less work home. Be more efficient, effective and really your best teacher or educator or leader self.
Welcome to episode 22 of the time for teacher ship podcast with the planning series, We are on part five, we're talking today about advancing our personal wellness.
Hi, I'm Lindsey Lyons and I love helping school communities envision bold possibilities, take brave action to make those dreams a reality and sustain an inclusive, anti racist culture where all students thrive. I'm a former teacher leader turned instructional coach, educational consultant and leadership scholar. If you're a leader in the education world, whether you're a principal superintendent, instructional coach or a classroom teacher excited about school wide change like I was, you are a leader and if you enjoy nursing out about the latest educational books and podcasts, if you're committed to a lifelong journey of learning and growth and being the best version of yourself, you're going to love the time for teacher ship podcast.
Let's dive in.
I want to start with why, why do we want to advance our personal wellness? There are so many personal reasons we could name. Of course we want to advance our personal wellness, but it's also good for school culture. And so I want to take a moment to look at the research on flourishing school culture that really centers well being for students and staff. The first thing is that well being is critical for organizational. So school success and student individual success.
Research has found that employee health in all organizations, schools included directly impact the success of organizations. So in the case of schools, student achievement is directly impacted by employee health and well being a principal's sense of well being is related to the well being of students and teachers. And similarly educators report that they flourish when their students flourish.
Teachers are able to see in their classrooms and their relationships with students when the students are doing well, they are doing well. So there's this interconnected nature of well being and flourishing across the school according to the Mayo clinic, the person you report to at work. So your direct boss or supervisor is more important for your health than your family doctor, which is mind blowing, flourishing schools are focused on three big things. They are focused on filling the culture with trust, with hope, with compassion, play, purpose, passion and presence. Schools that are dedicated to the presence of these features in the culture are going to be spaces for well being where all educators, staff, students can thrive.
The second thing is that leaders, so administrators or teacher leaders of flourishing schools are engaged, they are purposeful in their work, They are adventurous, they are brave they're bold, they're also resilience and their collaborative.
Finally, those leaders have a shared leadership mindset, the ability to adapt, right? We talk a lot about adaptive leadership on this podcast. As well as have a high subjective well being themselves. We talked about that in point number one schools that center the well being of all stakeholders. It's intimately connected, the different stakeholder groups and their well being to the organizational well being and to other stakeholders well being. We see that schools that are well, are focused on these pieces passion, purpose presence, trust, hope, compassion, being adventurous, being resilient, being collaborative, having a shared leadership, an adaptive leadership mindset.
These are all key components now schools that have been at the award winning level for having amazing leadership for having school culture that promotes well being for all stakeholders. This is what researchers found that they demonstrated. They fostered nurturing relationships. They made decisions to elevate other's ideas and professional growth. They brought the organization's vision to life.
They built capacity for school stakeholders that were focused specifically on holistic well being. So they improved the ability of each stakeholder teachers, students, families, staff to be well. They built individual capacity for that and collective capacity for that. As leaders, they were approachable, accessible, available, aware, appreciative of others.
So again fostering that culture of well being through how they show up. They also reported high levels of resilience which encompasses a lot of different stuff. They were self aware of what they had and what they needed. The importance of learning and developing and constantly growing to be well and finding purpose and meaning, living into their values and being well themselves. And this was significantly and positively correlated with thriving, with well being, the experience of flow. So Shikh Maha idea of flow. We talked about that earlier in the planning series being fully immersed in the work where time seems to evaporate and we're really focused and just loving what we are doing.
These leaders also reported high levels of grit. So working towards challenges, working through failure and discomfort and that was positively correlated with thriving with well being with resilience. All of these pieces echo things we talked about on the podcast all the time. They echo the pieces of teaching and leading for justice and recognizing that when we teach and lead for justice, when we do what is uncomfortable, when we collaborate, when we lean into our values. When we center the importance of well being for all stakeholders, When we share leadership, then each individual member of the organization as well as the organization as a whole can truly thrive.
Student achievement is through the roof and everyone feels better, they feel like they are fully themselves. Leadership scholar Robert Keegan asks us the following, he says "Imagine so valuing the importance of developing people's capabilities that you design a culture that itself immersive. Lee sweeps every member of the organization into an ongoing developmental journey in the course of working every day."
Imagine making the organization itself and not separate extra benefits the incubator of capability. Imagine if our organizations are schools were incubators of capability and we prioritize wellness. What might that look like? Researchers Mileder and Dimmer talk about four things that you can do to start. So the self work is about learning your own strengths and the strengths of the people you work with. What do you need to develop? What do you need to live into your fullest self, also do the self work of walking the talk. So modeling a life of well being for your colleagues, for the students around you.
In the category of supporting others well being, make sure your organizational environment is reinforcing healthy behaviors, not as some sort of add on program that like we do yoga after school or something, but as part of the fabric of how the school operates, make healthy behaviors and well being intimately connected to the purpose of the school and how it's run.
The final piece they suggest is to foster well being through positive interpersonal communication. Our day to day interactions with other students, with other colleagues, with families. We can foster well being or we can do the opposite. We can harm well being, we can perpetuate oppression. We're fostering well being. We're doing that intentionally through our positive interpersonal, not just communication, but I would add partnership.
The reality is many schools have incredibly high turnover rates. They are feeling the time crunch to improve academic scores and data points very quickly. That's often because that's what we focus on. We focus on those and results, the public data. But what if we instead refocused attention and made time to create space for teachers to grow and learn and be well and model for students the creation of space and time to grow and be well. Schools that don't prioritize well being likely to see high rates of teacher burnout and signs of deteriorating teacher and student well being. When teachers stress
we know affects student success and student well being. It is important to tackle this issue. That's the why behind the strategies that I'm going to share next. Let's look at the National Wellness Institutes kind of dimensions of wellness. Let's break down what wellness really is and then talk about some practices for how we live into wellness. The National Wellness Institute shares six dimensions of wellness and those are physical, social, intellectual, spiritual, emotional and occupational. Their definition of wellness is this follows, they say it is an active process through which people become aware of and make choices toward a more successful existence.
So wellness is existing successfully, this being your full self in the world. And it includes this process of not just becoming aware of yourself and what you need and what you can do to be better, but making choices to be more well. And so I love that this gives us an agency in a system that we exist in that often puts limitations on certain people's wellness.
At the same point, we need to be aware of the larger structures, for example, in a school system, the school culture, the policies, the practices that may impede wellness and we need to push against those to make those more welcoming for wellness practices.
We also need to do that on a national level, state and federal policy, but in terms of individuals, here are the things that I want to break down in terms of how I've thought about them and practical strategies that I've personally used to really improve my own wellness and well being.
So physical well being. When I was teaching in a physical school, I was moving my body all day every day, I was constantly moving around and when I was teaching I was teaching in New York and so at least 30 minutes, maybe more of my commute was walking to and from trains to and from busses. I was moving all day long and so the transition to teaching from home or for me becoming a consultant, many folks are now sitting at desks each day as opposed to being in physical spaces where we're constantly moving. That challenged my physical well being.
I'm not at my best physically or mentally when I sit all day long. And so I've tried to find ways to move my body every day. As a runner. I try to go for a run as often as I can. Sometimes I feel like a goal that is too lofty to run every day, for example, is just not achievable. And so then I stop pursuing that goal. I've heard people saying I'm going to do 21 minutes of whatever activity they wanted to do in the year 2021. And so I said yes, I'm going to move my body. I'm going to walk or run 21 minutes every morning. First thing I do when I get up that way. If I don't get to it later on or I'm not feeling the run, I can always make sure I did something as soon as I woke up and that doesn't always have to be running.
It can just be moving my body, it doesn't have to be walking, it can be moving your arms if you're unable to walk, just moving your body in whatever way feels good for you or feels possible for you. Sometimes during a zoom meeting or zoom class, it's taking a long time. I will stand up and do some bodyweight squats, shake up my limbs for 10 seconds, stretch and try to touch the ceiling, try to touch the floor to try to get up and move my body in the middle of the day just as a quick, maybe 1 to 2 minute break.
And if I'm doing a workshop with educators, we're teaching a class that also gives students and educators the opportunity to see that modeled for them and have that opportunity themselves to take that break in that moment. Let's dive into the next piece. So this is social well being. I am definitely an introvert. And so this is a little bit of a challenge for me. I definitely want to practice self care and kind of recharge my energy in the way that I like to do that, which is often sitting in a corner with a blanket in a book, but I have absolutely enjoyed seeing people in a 1 to 1 space.
I think the larger social setting for me can be a little bit off putting, but the 1 to 1 space connecting deeply within their human being is actually really enjoyable. And so it's been a little bit of of a reworking of my brain to say yes, I am on zoom all day long and yes, I am tired of being on zoom. But if this is how I can connect safely and in a healthy way with people who I haven't seen in a long time that actually is feeding my social wellness and it is something that I can absolutely do.
I also connect with other educators and workshop facilitators when I collaborate with them. So work is a big part of my life and so sometimes there's overlap between these pieces of well being and I can socialize with a co facilitator like a co teacher or a colleague and I can do my work but be social in the process, right? I can be social with my students.
I can connect to them as human beings in my Monday wind time. How I structure my classes, my college class right now meets Mondays and Wednesdays and so I've reserved Monday's has time for students to opt in and have one on one or small group meetings with me.
It speaks to the need to just connect one on one. Last semester, I had a lot of students who just connected for the social purpose of just seeing their teacher and being able to talk. Maybe they didn't even have a question about the project, but they needed that social connection time in a smaller space and that's really important to be able to find whatever it looks like to you. Lift that part of yourself up and give it some life. The next piece is intellectual well being. So I am a very goal oriented person. For the past several years.
I've set a goal for the number of books that I want to read that has often kept me reading more than watching tv, which is just a super easy thing to just sit down and do at the end of the day when my brain is tired. I love the Goodreads app and I use their annual reading challenge to set my goal and then track how I've been reading. I also love reading other people's reviews. I also love podcasts about books "What to read next ", by Anne Bogel is a good one that fellow educator Laura Cruz introduced me to. So thank you Laura.
Having different pieces like this that are kind of embedded into places I already am. So my phone, seeing the Goodreads up any time I open my phone. Like I'm often gravitating to that app versus you know, social media or something else that I think might be actually harmful to my mental well being. At times I have learned a ton in my 100 book challenge for the last few years. That's been really fun to be able to kind of dig into learning about myself as a learner podcasts or another thing on my 21 minute walks or runs in the morning. I will also listen to a lot of podcasts earlier in the planning series, we talked about never having enough time and for folks who feel like that to be the case for themselves, this is a wonderful kind of overlap.
For example, the physical well being merged with the intellectual well being. I can do both of those things and satisfy both of those pieces of my well being at the same time. The finding places of overlap or matching up these practices can be really powerful.
Another example of a matchup that kind of combines, I would say physical social and intellectual and even occupational, which we'll get to shortly is after school, I would run with a colleague shoutout to Nina thank you Nina for being a motivator for me being able to socialize, also talk about work or kind of brainstorm some work ideas if we needed to think about something creatively and also move our bodies and be physically well And I thought that was just a really great opportunity to kind of align all the different things that were important to me in a way that felt really true to what I wanted to do in the moment and what I felt excited to do.
The next piece is spiritual well being broadly is more one sense of purpose or meaning in life according to the National Wellness Institute.
So it's not necessarily religion per se, I am not religious, but I do have a strong sense of purpose. Being able to dig down and determine what our purpose is, what I can offer the world, my community, that can be really powerful in terms of keeping us going, keeping us well, giving us showing up to these spaces and challenging times. Like during a pandemic for example.
I try really hard to dig down into, you know what is that purpose and that purpose is constantly evolving. That's a really interesting thing to sit with and just think for a while, dig into my heart, my head, my soul, right and think about what is it that I'm doing and how am I showing up in a way that I want to show up in the world is aligned to my values my purpose.
Another thing that I often use in class are the values in actions, character strengths. I use those with high school students to identify which value I am strengthening or I should be strengthening right, an area of growth or an area for growth, I should say, or an area of strength.
Using these as kind of points of reflection. If reflection feels like a difficult thing to do, I can hone in on those specific values and say, how did I demonstrate that today? How did I demonstrate courage today? How did I demonstrate connection today? The next piece is emotional well being.
I teach myself to use the same self regulation strategies or mindfulness techniques that I've used with students or invited students to use over the time that I've taught lately, I've been kind of lowering the shoulders Dr. Sri Bridges Patrick, she's really helped me by recommending books and also just having moments of check in time at the start of each meeting. She says, "Go below the neck." I find that just really visual or embodied language to be able to say "Yeah, okay, like let me go below the neck." What is going on in my body in this moment. What am I feeling if I'm having some heightened anxiety lowering those shoulders, kind of bringing them back, taking a deep breath and just feeling what's going on connecting to that emotion. Seeing if I can name that emotion is really key.
I've used the stop, think, breathe app which there is a version for students or youth and there's also a version for adults. I've also experimented with because I work from home, being able to distinguish the work part of the day from the being home and being just a regular person, not at work part of the day with doing some yoga or some light movement paired with some breathing.
I find mindfulness that's rooted in movement like things like yoga to be easier for me because it's really difficult and challenging to shut off my brain. I think that means it's an area for future growth. But for now that works for me, ending the workday with that moment of mental clarity and deep breathing and a little bit of movement helps me to then turn off work and kind of switch into at home mode. Points of transition has been really helpful for me and thinking about how to keep my emotional well being in check. Other things like other pieces of boundaries, like when I check email and how often I respond to requests or emails, how often I have my phone's volume on, which is literally never.
I always have it on silent and I can check it when I can check it. These are also other things that I've realized like certain things spike my anxiety and impede my emotional well being. And so I've had to kind of construct what I've found to be really helpful boundaries to promote that well being. So that's going to look different for everyone and maybe thinking about where you are and then what could be helpful for you would be an exercise that would be valuable.
And finally, as educators occupational well being is also important for us, right? We want to do a good job for students. Of course it can feel challenging, particularly in the last few years, there are so many things shifting and changing and teaching has always been difficult. But I encourage folks to identify one or two ways that you have done an amazing job, a success perhaps that you had with students this week, a lesson that went wonderfully well, an activity within a lesson that went wonderfully well and name that and celebrate that. Focus on those wins because even if they are few and far between, they are incredibly important to sustaining our occupational well being and our sense of self and our joy for the profession.
For me, another piece of that is again merging with intellectual well being, the opportunity to learn and grow and become an even better educator. There are opportunities for me to listen as I listen to podcasts on my walk again, seeing the overlap here we have the physical walking, the intellectual well being of the podcasting and the occupational well being of listening to a podcast while walking that is about education. There are a lot of different ways we can line these up and do one activity or spend 20 minutes on an activity that hits multiple pieces of well being. And so I encourage you to kind of find points of overlap here that work for you and I encourage you to just deeply reflect on each piece of these. I'll just list them out these six dimensions of wellness are physical, social, intellectual, spiritual, emotional and occupational.
Get a sense of where you are you at a one out of 10 on this. How would you rate your well being in this particular area? Take a moment to just sit with that for each of those six areas and then think about an action step.
Maybe that you currently do that you want to keep doing or something that you'd like to add to your daily practice and it doesn't even have to be daily, it could be weekly as well.
Another thing that I've learned from using Emily Areis, life tracker planner is that a monthly wellness goal with three concrete actions that kind of fall underneath it. So in january, my wellness school was to just be really active and just wanted to be active most days of the week. That's where my 21 minutes of walking came in.
I also had another couple specific goals. I was new to the area. I wanted to map out to new runs, pinpointing concrete ways that I can fulfill each month's wellness goal and the reason that I was just successful in January of setting up this is because wellness was my prioritized or highlighted area.
We've talked about highlighting in the previous episodes in this mini series, but highlighting or letting it be the priority some days or some weeks or some months. However, you highlighter prioritized sometimes wellness needs to be the priority to make sure that it gets the attention that it deserves.
Just try to find a rhythm of where that is for you to help you.
I will link in the show notes, the freebie for this week which is a well being tracker. You can also get it at bit.ly/well-beingtracker. One episode left in our planning series which is about lesson planning more efficiently and effectively.
If you have not listened to the others, please go back, start with part one and listen to all six parts of the planning series, because when we plan better we are able to reduce our time spent on things that are not meaningful. They're not moving the needle where we want it to move and we're reducing our chance of being well. This planning series is intimately connected to our wellness and I want you to make sure you have all of the strategies possible there. In the same vein here, if you want to take an in depth walkthrough of how I became well enough to have enough time to get a PhD and run the New York city marathon while teaching full time and designing brand new units for my students. You can check out my self paced online course which is called work less, teach more.
It is now open for enrollment and it is $197. My professional and mental well being was worth way more to me than $200. I would have paid a lot of money to be able to achieve the kind of well being that I got to with just a lot of trial and error.
I want you to be able to skip that trial and error and get right there. So if you'd like to enroll today, you can go to bit.ly/wltmcourse.
If you're a school leader and you want to help your teachers be well, you want them to have the energy and the wellness to be able to show up as their full selves and model for students how to show up as their full selves and transform that school culture into one of flourishing and wellness.
You can absolutely purchase the course for your teachers, purchase it as a pilot program where one department or one grade team takes it on and test it out before going to the whole school or you could just dive right in and get it for the whole school.
If you would like to chat with me, if you're a leader or a teacher or an instructional coach or a professor, go ahead and shoot me an email.
firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll see if the course would be a good fit for you. That's it for part five in the planning series. I will see you in the next installment which is going to be our last piece of the planning series.
Thanks for listening. amazing educators. If you loved this episode you can share it on social media and tag me @lindsaybethlyons or leave review of the show, so leaders like you will be more likely to find it to continue the conversation. Until next time, leaders continue to think big, act brave and be your best self.
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This month, we are diving back into the archives looking at episodes from March of the season one. So this was last year 2021. Taking the most popular episodes from our mini planning series and revisiting them because this is relevant information for any year. Any year of your practice, even if you want to re-listen, this is content that folks have said they have actually gone through my course on this several times and found extreme value in looking at it at different parts throughout the pandemic, different year to year, just having a different planning process, teaching different things, we're just needing a refresher on what that content reminded them to do. So I hope you enjoy from the archives, our planning series. This is gonna be five episodes in March. It includes: how do you spend your time, all of the tips on planning, the beliefs that get in the way, advancing wellness, and efficient effective lesson planning.
Be sure to listen to them all or if you're just using a refresher, listen to the ones that you think a refresher would be incredibly valuable for you and inspiring for you to paint that picture of what it looks like to take less work home, be more efficient, effective and really your best teacher or educator or leader self.
Welcome to episode 20 of the Time for Teachership podcast. We are in part three of our mini planning series where we're rethinking the beliefs that get in the way. We have these big goals, these big dreams, these big visions for ourselves as educators and just as people in our daily lives, who we want to be in the world. And there are often beliefs that get in the way that prevent us from reaching those goals and being who we want to be.
Hi, I'm Lindsay Lyons and I love helping school communities envision bold possibilities, take brave action to make those dreams a reality and sustain an inclusive, anti-racist culture where all students thrive.
I'm a former teacher leader turned instructional coach, educational consultant and leadership scholar. If you are a leader in the education world, whether you're a principal, superintendent, instructional coach or a classroom teacher excited about school wide change like I was, you are a leader. And if you enjoy nerding out about the latest educational books and podcasts, if you're committed to a lifelong journey of learning and growth and being the best version of yourself, you're going to love the Time for Teachership podcast. Let's dive in.
The question here in this episode is, what are the underlying beliefs that are holding us back from transformation and what do we do about it? So David Bayer, who is a coach for entrepreneurs, talks about our limiting beliefs, the beliefs that we have that actually limit our progress, put us in a state of inner conflict and what that does is it steals our time, our energy and our ability to be fully present in the moment. And we can lose hours of time here each day, years of our life when we add it all up. We talk about productivity, this idea of being productive and this drive to be productive actually decreases so much of our time energy and presence that it is actually the opposite of productivity and there's so much to dig into there. We're just going to be talking a bit today about a couple of core limiting beliefs that I hear a lot and have faced a lot in my life, right?
And thinking about, what is that state of inner conflict? How do we open up that time, energy and presence that we really want to have and really, how do we rewrite these beliefs to make them beliefs that are not limiting and that allow us to have the transformation that we really want. We'll talk more in the next episode of the mini planning series about clearing the mind and this concept of having a clear mind to create more energy, more creativity in our work. But today again we're going to really focus on some of the most common beliefs that I see and struggle with myself,
Belief number one : there is not enough time. Here's the thing : everyone has the same amount of time. We often just overload our plates many times with things that don't need to be there, or things that we haven't really thought through, like does achieving this task actually lead me to the outcome that I want, actually lead me to live the life that I want to have. So if we kind of reframe our mind around that belief that there is enough time, everyone has the same amount of time,
we can't create more time. Instead, it's about how we're choosing to spend our time and the thought processes that underlie that and really digging into it and making more space for ourselves. That is a huge mindset shift that I am still struggling with. But I see the power in it. I have been able to move my mind and channel my ideas around this sense of time, enough to find the amazingness that comes out the other side when we're able to actually believe that there is enough time, it's just how we spend it.
So I often hear this belief actually show up as a response to a couple of things. One, I do a lot of work where I encourage folks to create original curriculum or original units. And I also called for in the 50 40 10 planning bundle that I talked about in the first episode of this mini planning series, talked about investing 40% of our planning time in professional development. And often the response is, there's not enough time for that. And certainly we stack so many things on our place. We have so many things that we are tasked with doing, that often feels like there's not enough time.
But if we reframe it, right? and we think instead about what the opportunity to have really high quality. I'm not talking about a meeting that it has no purpose, but a really truly high quality professional development experience : one on one, instructional coaching, diving into a start to finish online course that that helps us achieve a goal
we've always wanted to get to, listening to a podcast around a problem of practice that we've always had and we've always been challenged by and we just need some new ideas to kind of spark our imagination and take the next step towards action. Those professional development opportunities can really provide us with ultimately, more time, more job satisfaction, more wellness, depending on what it is that we're tuning into for the p.d..
So here's the specific responses that I usually hear from teachers around specifically the p.d. opportunity. Let's look at that one for now and then I'll share with you, kind of, the opportunity cost reframe that I suggest. An opportunity cost is essentially what we're giving up. So what else we could be doing with our time or energy if we weren't spending it here? Where else could we have been spending it? So again, an opportunity cost reframe. Thinking about what we're giving up by not choosing to invest in p.d.. So here is one response that I often get : I can't take time from the grading or lesson planning response. We can think about and there's going to be an episode in this planning series, all about lesson planning.
We talked initially in the first episode of the planning series about grading and where to find opportunities to grade during class to reduce the time outside of class. But once we lessen the time, which is one approach, right? less than the time we spend grading and lesson planning to open up more time for p.d., certainly again, one approach. The other kind of frame or approach to this is if we think about what underlies this statement, right? The idea if I take away time from grading or planning this lesson to learn something new, my kids are going to suffer. My kids aren't going to get their grades in time. My kids aren't going to receive a lesson from me. They're going to get a sub instead. But let's apply an opportunity cost lens here. How can we reframe that initial response? So here are some questions that you might want to try on. What if, so we're imagining here, what if the professional development I spend time on teaches me how to plan efficiently and grade faster and it actually saves me time in the long run. Here's another what if : what if it helps me build engaging learning activities so that students are on task and excited to learn every day.
So then I have fewer phone calls to make home to family or fewer things to write in the narrative feedback that I give students because they got it, they got it and they're ready to move on. Fewer mental point of exhaustion where I'm just concerned that my students aren't loving class and being engaged and I worry about them acting out or disrupting the class. If I can get rid of all that stuff because students are just crushing it in my class because p.d. helped me get there, is it then valuable to go ahead and do that p.d.? What if there's another one? What if it means I would be able to stop taking work home? I am so efficient in my planning time. I've learned through professional development opportunities how to do this. Well, I can stop taking planning home, stop taking grading home and I can stop taking again that mental stress of feeling like I'm not effective or that my students aren't learning or they're not enjoying their time in my class. Would it be worth it then?
Here's another frame or response that I often hear, I can't miss class for p.d..
So again, that idea if teachers are offered a chance to attend maybe a school day p.d. so either they're visiting another school, you're dropping into another school or another teachers kind of zoom room, or you know, you have an opportunity to have a curriculum planning day or a workshop off site. I can tell you the curriculum planning days that I received as a teacher when I finally had that opportunity to do that p.d., Oh my gosh, transformational. It's why I built an entire course, my curriculum bootcamp around having that opportunity to just dig in. I mean it was a game changer for my effectiveness and my students love of my course, anyways.
I often hear teachers say when presented with this opportunity, I can't leave my kids, right? They're going to miss out on learning because they're going to have a sub and that sub's not the same as me. But again, reframe. Would I sacrifice one day of student learning? Let's say they learned absolutely nothing, which is probably not true, right? They'll probably learn something. But let's say they learned absolutely nothing, totally washed. Would I sacrificed?
That is the question I want you to ask. Would I sacrifice all that stuff if it meant that me and my students would be energized and engaged for the rest of the year? Thanks to that p.d.. What if it just increased engagement for one semester? What about if it increased engagement for just one unit, right? What is the opportunity cost? What's the thing that you're willing to give up in order to reach that larger goal, right? What are we missing out on If we say no to a professional development opportunity? What is your opportunity cost? What are you willing to sacrifice? What is it worth to you? What is the thing that you could accomplish by missing just one day of class could drastically improve your life, your student's lives, engagement, achievement, mental well being, all the things. What is it worth to you?
And so I think in thinking through all of these questions it's often a question of, am I choosing the right professional development? Because I would imagine that most folks, myself included, are saying, yeah that's totally worth it. If I could miss one day of class to attend a p.d. that was a game changer, my life is better. My students lives are better.
I'm not bringing stress home. I am working more efficiently and my students are learning more. Families are pumped. I think most people would say yeah I would totally take that trade off in a heartbeat. But it's about making sure that we have the right p.d.. Now if we have the right p.d. and it's finally in front of us and we have that opportunity, do we have the right mindset to be able to take advantage of it and say yes this is it, this is the one.
My biggest growth spurts as I kind of alluded to earlier as a teacher, came from really efficient professional development. Taking the time to say, you know what? I'm going to risk my students missing out on learning today because I have faith that this is going to be a revolutionary approach. I have faith in myself that I can apply it in a way that helps my students don't underestimate the power of investing in your learning. Trust your amazing educator brilliance to be able to apply that learning in a way that really moves the needle for you and for your students. Even if or maybe even especially if it seems like your time where your energy is just stretched too thin to take on
one more thing, I think that's the exact point where we reached down deep and say, what is this underlying limiting belief that is holding me back from achieving transformation in my class in my life? We only have so many hours in the day. So kind of coming back to that limiting belief : there's not enough time, on a broader scale, it really comes down to spending our time in ways that get us the big results and gets us to the life that we ultimately want. And so too often I have found myself ruminating on not having enough time, and that just takes up all of my mental energy, my mindspace, my opportunity to be creative and be in the present moment.
Now let's move on to another belief, and this is when I struggle with possibly more than this first one. I think definitely more than the first one and that is, I am a people pleaser or I have to say yes to everything, as a concrete example of what people pleasing can look like in action. So this belief that I have to say yes to everything, I can't possibly say no to so and so or to anyone. And here's the thing: underlying the nose, saying no feeling like you have the space and the ability to say no, is a huge mindset shift that I am totally still working on. But we have to think about what saying no actually means. Saying no really is an opportunity for you to say yes to other things: yes to things that are just higher up on your priority list at the moment.
Yes to things that are in alignment with your values, your beliefs, how you want to be in the world, what you want to accomplish, maybe even what other people need from you. It does not always have to be selfish, it can be self less to say no to something that enables you to say yes to someone else or something else that benefits someone else, right? So sometimes it's selfish, sometimes it's self less but saying no, enables us to say yes. And that reframe I think is really critical to being able to open up our capacity to say no. So that's something else that you're actually saying yes to when you say no to another opportunity that someone asked you a favor, someone asked you to do, right? When you say no to that something you might be saying yes to is spending time with family, exercising, sleeping. Whatever it is, your noes are making room for the yeses in the areas that matter most to you. So remember, similar to the pd reframe, right? There's always an opportunity cost to saying yes. When you say yes to everything that comes across your plate, you're actually saying no to a lot of other things.
You might not be verbalizing that no to another person and often honestly you're saying no to yourself or maybe your family. You're saying no to other things in your life. It just might not be verbally and it might not be immediate, but we ultimately realize we don't have time to keep stacking and stacking and stacking on our plates. So just remember there's always an opportunity cost to saying yes and you just need to determine, just like me, if the cost is worth it, right? That's the question: is the cost worth it? So for example, if I agree to stay after school, I won't be able to go running today because I was planning to do that after school. Or, if I agree to stay after school, I won't be able to cook dinner with my family or you know, whatever it is. Am I willing to sacrifice? That is the question that should go through our minds.
And to do this, well, to really understand what we're saying yes to by saying no to something else, it brings me to the next point, which is to determine what your priorities are. And your priorities can change from moment to moment, but take time to just identify what are your three priorities right now?
You can write them out, you can think to yourself. What are your three most important things right now in your life. What do you want to spend more time doing? Once you have this list, this list is going to help you to say no to things that don't align to those three priorities on your list. And you can use the list as a litmus test to ask yourself, if saying yes to something, will take away from those priorities, or take away too much from those priorities, then you got to say no.
Another piece of advice here is to write your script to literally plan out. If this is an uncomfortable conversation for you, how am I going to go about having the conversation? What are the literal words I will use to say no? Recognizing that no is a full sentence, and you could just simply say no. You don't need to explain yourself. You can count to ten in your head afterwards if you want to fill the awkward silence. No is a complete sentence.
So with that caveat, if you feel like you need more, you can absolutely follow a script and I've heard different iterations of these scripts.
Here's what I have pulled together from different things I've heard from different folks : "Thank you for asking." "I'm excited about what you're doing." My current priorities are X, Y and Z." "I'm unable to say yes to anything outside of these right now." That's the script. You say no. You thank them and you share excitement for the stuff that they're doing because it sounds probably pretty cool, otherwise you wouldn't even consider to say yes. But you let them know exactly why if you feel, again, like you need to give a reason, you don't have to. They're like, hey, you know, these are the priorities in my life right now doesn't really match up with that. I already committed to X, Y and Z. So I can't make the time for this or else I'd be saying no to these other things.
Most people are going to understand that and not only that you're modeling for them, how they could do that in their lives. They're probably envious of your ability to state so clearly your priorities and have that sense of when you would say no. And so you're actually really helping folks out. I've heard a lot of people say that exact sentiment when they're talking about boundary setting. I got this from someone else who did it and it was really cool when they said no to me because I learned how to say no in a way that still honored the work that I asked them to do and that's what I was doing was really cool and worthwhile, but also honored their own boundaries and showed me how to say no to other people.
There's such gratitude that emerges for people when they get to "no" in that particular way. Trying to create a script or craft language that really feels true to yourself and true to your purpose and who you want to be in the world, that enables you to practice that or have that language at the ready when you are presented with an opportunity or a question or favor whatever that is.
Another thing you could do is, let's say someone is asking you something that you actually see a potential for overlap with one of your priority areas in, you might actually pose an alternative. For example, if someone wants to meet with you, but you have an afternoon walk that you had scheduled and it's a really important part of your wellness goals? You could pose, "Well, I actually have a walk scheduled during that time, but if you don't mind having the meeting for 20, 30 minutes as we walk, come to that walk with me." right? I will have that meeting as we're walking because there's clear overlap there. I can kind of hit both in one stride.
So that's an opportunity for you. Again,
If you don't feel comfortable saying no, maybe that meeting is really important to whatever work you're doing, but that time just doesn't really work, well, here we go : let's pose an alternative. And if they say no to that, then you can still stick to your boundary and say, well, no, that that walk is really important to me. That's one of my priorities is my wellness and my physical well being and I need to move. So if you don't want to go on a walk with me, maybe we talk on the phone while I'm walking or we just find a different time. As we begin doing this work for ourselves, again, you're going to be modeling for those around us. That person you say no to, well maybe start trying out that practice themselves and step by step.
What is amazing about this is you can actually transform your entire workplace culture. You could do this as a leader and be really transparent and modeling that you're going to say this to other people and so teachers can say this back to you. And you can also do this as a teacher and model for colleagues. This is how I'm going to operate. This is what's important to me. This is why I have to say no, I'm going to be totally okay when you share that with me. And if you don't know what your priorities are to be able to say no to me, I invite you to take the time to write them down and think about them.
Another approach here is David Bayer suggests rewriting a limiting belief. If your belief, for example, like mine is often "I can't say no to people", if you rewrite it as an empowering belief, what he calls an empowering belief, and you really use that empowering belief that rewrite the kind of the opposite of the limiting belief, then we allow ourselves that sentence as a way to really check our thinking and our decision making against that belief. So here's a concrete example: for me at this exact moment, I'm really struggling to say no to accepting work that is unpaid, so totally free, like I'm working for free or I'm severely underpaid. So what I have done is I have written the following empowering belief : I will only work when I received the value I am worth or when I can learn more about the needs of the Justice Center, teachers and leaders, I'm excited to work with. So I either have to have the financial compensation that is paying me what I am worth or I'm really deepening my understanding of and the service to the folks that I'm committed to help.
If I can have one of those two, then I will say yes.
What I've done with this belief is I put it on a bright pink post-it note. it goes right above my computer. Every day, multiple times a day, I can read it. And particularly when I'm asked for a favor or to give my time and energy to a new project, another piece of this too is I will not only read it before responding, but I'll take some time and really sit with it. I found recently after I did this, I had to post it up there. I maybe glanced at it really quickly, but I still made a decision that was not in alignment with that empowering belief because I was rushing. Because I was actually multitasking, I was doing something else and I saw the email and I just responded my default response, which was "of course of course I would love to do that" and that's not always the case, right? That's just my default response, operating without my brain actually taking a moment to think, did I actually want to do that? Does it pay me the value that I'm worth in this opportunity? Of course we're going to have these road bumps, we're not going to be perfect in doing this and I'm just share that moment to just be transparent and being able to say, we have to take the time and the mental space to be able to make a thoughtful choice and not just default to yes.
And we have to do the preparation of having our priorities in line, having our empowering and not limiting beliefs on a post-it in our face every day and to be able to have a script ready if that is a difficult thing for us to do, to say no and be able to say why.
I've also seen one way this can manifest is people in their email signatures who have said, you know, due to taking time for my priorities, maybe that's their family, whatever it is, I'm not going to likely respond to this email on a weekend or after five p.m. On a weekday or you know, whatever it is, embedding that culture of I have priorities. I want to live a full life and I want to model that for other people. Email signature is a great way to kind of put that in as well
To kind of wrap up this episode, what are the beliefs getting in the way of you living the life you want to live? I invite you to consider that question. What are the beliefs getting in the way, and how can we take action on those beliefs that limit us? So take a moment to rewrite your limiting belief to an empowering one or as we did at the earlier point in the episode, you know, list out the top three priorities in your life right now and use this list to make decisions for the rest of the week, the rest of the month.
you know, however long it lasts. Your priorities absolutely can change. And actually family areas of Boston, she created a life tracker planner, I think I've mentioned before. I love it because it allows me to highlight a particular priority or focus area each month. So in January, that was my wellness and that was my priority for the month. I needed to achieve my wellness schools. Everything else is important, but this is really taking priority this month. In February for me is work, making sure that my work goals are kind of highlighted. Again, wellness doesn't go away. Other pieces of my life don't go away, but just being able to say this is my priority right now, it can absolutely shift and evolve, but I know what it is, I check in with it daily, weekly, whatever and I can respond and make decisions based on that in alignment with that.
So to help you, I'm going to share some boundary reminder images as this week's freebies, so you can print them, save them on your computer, phone, whatever, to remind you of living into your values. You can grab those at bit.ly/boundaryreminders. I'll also drop that link in the show notes.
And just to remind you, there are more tips coming in the rest of this mini planning series.
So this is the third episode. If you missed any of those, please feel free to go back and listen. Episode one of the mini series was how do you spend your time? We talked about the 50 40 10 planning approach. Episode two was all the tips. We talked about building momentum for behavior change in scheduling tips. Today was rethinking the beliefs that get in the way. The next three are about clearing the mind so that we have more energy. We'll talk a little bit more about essentialism and David Allen's strategy for getting things done. Part five is going to be advancing our personal wellness. So we'll be talking about all the different aspects of wellness and some practical strategies to advance our wellness so we can live full lives. And then part six is going to speak to something that often gets in the way of us having a life outside of work, which is how do I plan lessons quickly and efficiently and effectively. So we're gonna talk about lesson planning faster and some tips to do that.
If you want me to take you on an in depth walkthrough of how I saved a ton of planning time in one year as a teacher, I saved about 700 hours,
I have created a self paced online course for you to achieve the wellness that I have achieved outside of work. It is called the Work Less, Teach More courses and it is now open for enrollment. This of course is $197 and I don't know about you, but my professional and mental well being is worth way more to me than $200. So you can enroll today at bit.ly/wltmcourse. If you're a school leader and you want to help your teachers free up time and energy, all that stuff that they need to tackle those big goals you have for your school, you can absolutely purchase this course for your teachers as either a pilot for one department or grade team or for the whole school. And if you as a teacher or a leader, want to chat to see if the course would be a good fit for you. I am so excited to chat with you one on one. We will set up a free consultation call. Just contact me at email@example.com. Thank you and I will see you on the next mini planning series episode.
Thanks for listening amazing educators. If you loved this episode you can share it on social media and tag me @lindsaybethlyons, or leave a review of the show, so leaders like you will be more likely to find it. Until next time leaders, continue to think big, act brave, and be your best self.
Listen to the episode by clicking the link to your preferred podcast platform below:
This month, we are diving back into the archives looking at episodes from March of the season one. So this was last year 2021, taking the most popular episodes from our mini planning series and revisiting them because this is relevant information for any year. Any year of your practice, even if you want to relisten, this is content that folks have said : They have actually gone through my course on this several times and found extreme value in looking at it at different parts throughout the pandemic, different year to year, just having a different planning process, teaching different things, we're just needing a refresher on what that content reminded them to do. So I hope you enjoy from the archives, our planning series. This is gonna be five episodes in March. It includes how do you spend your time, all of the tips on planning, the beliefs that get in the way, advancing wellness and efficient effective lesson planning. Be sure to listen to them all.
Or if you're just using a refresher, listen to the ones that you think a refresher would be incredibly valuable for you and inspiring for you to paint that picture of what it looks like to take less work home, be more efficient, effective and really your best teacher or educator or leader self
in this episode of the Time for Teachership podcast, I'm going to be talking to you about our planning series. This is going to be part two of the planning series, part one you listened to perhaps last week. If you didn't, you can go ahead and listen to that. It was all about how do you spend your time and I talked about my 50 40 10 approach to planning and how that saved me hundreds of hours per year as a teacher. Today I want to share with you all of the various tips that I've been collecting over the years and refining as I read and learn more and do this work on a day to day basis.
Hi, I'm Lindsay Lyons and I love helping school communities envision bold possibilities,.
take brave action to make those dreams a reality and sustain an inclusive, anti-racist culture where all students thrive. I'm a former teacher leader turned instructional coach, educational consultant and leadership scholar. If you are a leader in the education world, whether you're a principal, superintendent, instructional coach or a classroom teacher excited about school wide change like I was, you are a leader. And if you enjoy nerding out about the latest educational books and podcasts, if you're committed to a lifelong journey of learning and growth and being the best version of yourself, you're going to love the Time for Teachership podcast. Let's dive in
I want to share kind of a bunch of tips around getting started with the behavior change and I also want to share in the same episode, my day to day work scheduling tips, so how to actually schedule out your day and your work. So let's get started. Behavior change. I have learned that while one step moving towards action is really great and many folks will say that one step is really all you need to get going,
I recommend starting with three steps. The difference here between one step and three next steps is really that momentum and so I can energetically dive into a new goal on day one, but after day one it's a lot easier to fizzle out. So I can get really excited about a new exercise school, I'm going to go ahead and exercise today. if I don't keep that pattern up in the next few days, it really fizzles out and becomes just this thing that I did on this one day. If we can commit to three stops, one after the other, we build up that momentum, we start to make real progress towards our goal. We start to believe that this is who we are in the world, we are a person who was running every morning or we are a person who does whatever it was that you decided to do and that momentum is going to be critical for working towards real change. So start with three steps, not just one. There are some more tips I have around. This idea of starting with three steps and building up that momentum beyond just "take three steps" and these are going to make it really actionable and ensure that we're going to do that follow through.
So the first piece is to set a deadline. I have found one week to be a really helpful timeframe here for me to complete three steps. That way, if I do go running tomorrow morning, but I forget or I have an injury or something comes up the next morning, I still have some leeway to be able to accomplish those three steps in one week, which is a short enough period of time to feel like, "yes, I'm making rapid momentum." and a long enough period of time to really provide that flexibility to work around the busyness of life and work and all the things that come up.
So I'm less likely to forget and build that momentum quickly. I'm building my confidence. I'm also building in flexibility into the system. I think this is one of the things that I'm learning as I grow and evolve is that rigidity with which I used to set all of my goals and led to a lot of goal accomplishment doesn't really let me live into kind of my values and the way that I would like and to show up in a place that is a flexible and relaxed and adaptive as opposed to really rigid and stressed.
And so I think that combination of flexibility and rigorous goal setting and those three steps after you set the goal really critical to have that balance
Whatever you choose as your deadline, maybe one week is not for you, just make sure that it is soon enough that you won't fall into the trap of, "oh, I'll do it tomorrow," or "I'll do it next week." You can definitely latch onto the momentum of the, I can't remember what it's called in the research, but this new start philosophy, right? So sometimes we do this on a yearly basis. In new year's, we have these new year's resolutions, we say, "okay, well starting on this fresh slate, this new year, I'm going to start." This is also doable in each month, each week. So okay, "Monday I'm going to start Monday. It's a fresh new week. I'm going to become this person that I want to be then." Or each day, right? It's a fresh day. I just woke up, I got a restful night's sleep. Here we go. This is who I'm going to be today and the next day and the next day. So latch onto that fresh start. That's what it's called : Fresh start effect. Latch onto that fresh start effect wherever you can and just make sure that again, you're not falling into that trap of putting it off tomorrow.
Pick a date, started three actions in one week.
The other piece to make sure that we're really gaining traction here is to make the actions doable. So the first few steps should be actions that take about 2-5 minutes. So for example, my current desired habit is to practice Duolingo every day. I really want to become fluent in Spanish. I'm gonna start with Spanish and hope to get to multiple languages over time. But I want to practice at least every week night. So that's another piece to flexibility. I want to make sure that I'm practicing every weeknight, so five days a week, I get that practice in and I can complete a lesson in a manageable amount of time and just maybe two minutes, five minutes, right? And still continue my daily streak. Build that momentum in a way that doesn't take up hours of my life. And I can certainly, and have certainly practiced for 30, 40 minutes, If I'm really on a roll, that's great, that's exciting. But I don't want to hold myself to that standard because then it feels really unmanageable and that's where we kind of lead ourselves into inaction because it just feels so big and so lofty. So make it doable, always feel free to go beyond that, but just make it doable to start
Writing out your plan is also really big.
So one of the things that I used to do in trying to make my plans manageable and build momentum is to write down two big things every day that I wanted to accomplish in that day, and I would really focus my time and energy on completing those tasks. I still definitely do that. But the practice and the question that I'm asking that underlies that practice has shifted a bit. So now it feels a bit more powerful to me to tie in each of those goals to a larger goal or vision for myself. If I'm working on a larger project, I might frame each day's task as which life changing project am I working towards today or which vision or goal am I working towards today? And what's the biggest thing that's going to really move the needle on that goal? That's going to fill my day with a lot more purpose than check the box, list of tasks. Even if it is only two tasks, that idea of connecting to purpose and larger vision is going to be really helpful in making sure that we really see those things as priorities and when it comes down to it, and we're at the end of the day and we have an hour left in our work day because we want to set clear parameters around our time,
so we're not working 80 hour work weeks, right? Like many of us do in education. We want to make sure that our purpose and our why and our driver are concrete vision that we have for ourselves in our lives is going to be the motivator to get that done
Relatedly, I think the final tip in this section here is to connect those steps to your identity. James Clear, who writes about habits, talks about linking our habits to our identities as a way to ensure that we follow through on our goals. And so he talks about for him, conducting a yearly integrity report, which really involves him asking, "what are the core values that drive my life and my work?" "How am I living and working with integrity right now and how can I set a higher standard in the future?" And so what he says about this work is that it helps him quote, "revisit my desired identity and consider how my habits are helping me become the type of person I wish to be.
We're more likely to continuously take action toward a goal if we see the work in each of the steps in that work as really critical to living out our desired identity and being our best self. Just to recap. When we're thinking about getting started with behavior change, we're building that momentum towards this big transformational chef. We want to start with three steps, not just one. We want to set a deadline for achieving those first three steps likely within a week. That flexibility is there, but also we have a time so it's time bound. We won't forget about it. We won't put it off till next week or next year. We want to make the actions doable 2-5 minutes per action. Of course we can go beyond that, but we want to write, limit that scope to make it feel doable. Write out the plan. I would even suggest and this is something I'll talk about later in the planning series, putting it on the calendar right? Write out your plan. What are you going to do today to live into that plan to live into that goal? Make it a priority. And finally connect these steps to your identity.
Make sure you have that deeper "why", that vision for your life and who you want to be in the world, and have that connect to your day to day actions. That will make it more likely you're going to go ahead and follow through.
Now, let's talk a little bit about day to day work life and scheduling tips. So how do we effectively schedule our day to day work lives? In the education world, this may not make a ton of sense in terms of where your classes scheduled, although I will say as a person who's scheduled classes for our school, I think it is important to give flexibility and teacher choice wherever possible in terms of creating, you know, your class schedule for the year. However, I recognize that sometimes, you know, you can't change when you're teaching a class, but you can have control over your planning time to an extent and what you do independently outside of teaching in front of students. And for leaders and other folks in the education space who are not always in front of classrooms, that planning space, that day to day, not being in front of students, opens up a lot of possibilities as well for how you schedule your time.
So, here's the first tip that I would suggest. Set boundaries. Whether we are working from home, working in school, working in hybrid settings, wherever we are in this moment, we are likely working more than 40 hours a week. We are likely working many more hours than we are officially working on paper. And for me, I used to work long days during the week and then double digit hour days on the weekends. I realized that was not who I wanted to be in the world and I needed to find a better way to figure out how to do that. It was a challenge. And I actually have a full course built out around this transformation because it's so important to me to share how that works for teachers and how that is absolutely possible. But for now I tried to set the boundaries around eight hour workdays, no more than working eight hours a week and not working on weekends. Of course, I'm actually just coming off a weekend where I worked both weekend, today's, for several hours each day, but that was probably the first time in months that I had to do that perhaps even in a year, although that's maybe an ambitious statement.
So setting those boundaries, what does it look like to you? To you it might be a different set of numbers. It might mean, yes, I do work on the weekends, but I, you know, make sure I stop at four p.m. every day during the work week. Whatever that looks like for you, I want you to set some boundaries and really choose boundaries that work for you, that makes sense to you, that you think it's viable to stick to. So set your boundaries first.
The next step for scheduling is making sure you're scheduling in alignment with your energy. So for me, I am more creative, more energetic, more alert and more focused in the mornings. And so when my energy is fresh, I want to make sure that I tackle those creation-based tasks. If I'm writing a book chapter, if I'm creating podcast content or writing a blog to pitch on another platform, those are the creation-based tasks that I really want to center my work on in the morning.
In the afternoon, I might do some more either menial tasks like email or logistical pieces that are just kind of quick tasks, or I will maybe do a workshop or meet with someone one on one because I am fueled by the energy of the other people in the space,
and so that keeps me really alert and fresh. It's hard to keep myself there in the afternoons when I'm just by myself. So schedule in alignment with wherever your energy is. Your energy may not be aligned with, you know, when I have energy in a given day, but making sure you're thoughtful about where your energy lies and what tasks are kind of in alignment with that at different points in the day. This is also something I think to think about students and how they are. A lot of our older students are adolescents are really more focused and alert later in the day. Our younger students are more alert and focused earlier in the day. So what does that mean for them in terms of how they show up to your class whenever your class is scheduled, right? And when we asked students to think about completing homework where different things like this, a lot of these things that we're talking about today as adults and educators, this is also really relevant for learners and our students and our youth. So schedule an alignment with your energy.
The next tip I would give is to batch your work. Batching is actually what I'm doing right now. I am recording episodes two through five of that many planning series, sorry, two through six all day today, that's my goal.
I have one workshop in the afternoon and the rest of my time is unscheduled. And so that is the big thing that I'm doing today. I'm batching it so that I can't be in that zone. I can make sure that I remember what I said in the previous episode so that there is flow, I don't have to be distracted by email because I'm not looking at it until I'm done with this task, and I can really just dig right in and do some concentrated work on this. When you get into the zone or what texting behind calls "flow", you're in a flow state. Right time kind of passes. We've all been in those states and various points of our lives, but you kind of don't notice time passing, like, "what, it's lunch already? Wow, that's nuts." You know, I just got started. That is where you want to be for productivity goals and that is what I find a lot when I can batch my work and not have to pay the cost of kind of switching tasks or switching mindsets around the different work that comes up.
When I was teaching, I would actually try to choose a schedule where I was not teaching for back to back class periods, or for a couple of years, I would try to put all of my classes, because my classes only met four times a week, all of my classes on Monday through Thursday and sometimes I wouldn't even have a break Monday through Thursday. But then Friday I would have maybe four hours of concentrated just prep time.
And so I took all of my prep periods from the whole week and just stacked them and I got so much done because I would just hide myself in my room with my headphones, or you know, in a hallway, somewhere where someone couldn't find me and I would just get a ton of lesson planning, grading all that stuff done. So whatever that looks like for you, knowing that we often restart when we're interrupted by either ourselves or someone coming up to us or an email to do an unrelated task, we want to really make sure that we can get in the zone and stay in the zone so that we can be as productive as we can. We don't have to pay that switching costs later on
My 4th tip here around scheduling is to take breaks, to get up, to move. I struggle with this and I used to rarely get up and move from my desk for lunch time and I was teaching. I think this is really important to stand, to stretch, to just get the body moving. Even if it's for 25 seconds just to stand, you know, midway through a zoom meeting and say, I just need to take a stretch break, you can put that in the chat, you know, you could stand whatever and building it into your lessons as well for students,
right? Sometimes we have students that just need to get up and move around and of course they do. They are typically sitting for six or more hours a day. Emily Aries, the host of the Boston Podcast, actually did an episode a while back when we first kind of shifted to a lot of Zoom meetings and she shared that experts actually recommend breaks of 15 minutes, about 10-15 minutes for every two hours of work. So sometimes that works for me, sometimes I'm really in the zone for about four hours and I don't even think of a break because I am not willing to break that flow state that I just spoke about earlier and that's okay to just finding some time that works for you. Maybe that means 20 or 30 minute break every four hours, whatever it is, just make sure you're able to kind of step away from the screen or from whatever it is that you're doing and just make sure that we are able to schedule either a midday walk break or a mid day stretch break or kind of move out of work mode and let our brains kind of clear and relax for a little bit. That is again a struggle for me, but absolutely one that I want to try to do more so that I can fully live into the values of wellness and mental well being that I want to bring to the table and also model for my colleagues and for students.
And my final tip here, tip number five for scheduling, is to put things on the calendar. So let's imagine as I'm sure we've all been in this scenario, you're staring at a long to do list and it feels hopeless to get it all done right. It's an incredibly long list and a colleague emails you or stops by your office or your room and asks you to do something for them. And you say yes because, what's one more thing on your super long to do list? You're never going to get to it anyways, right? And later you read an article about something really cool you want to do in your class or maybe, you know, and even an article about self care, or you're listening to this podcast and you're saying I want to add something else to this list. The to do list will continue growing, will continue to consume your life, and very few of those things get done and there is a lot of research on this. I'm actually going to be talking about this later in the planning series as well : What different productivity experts and different folks say about, you know, what to do with a very long to do list and how to actually make it productive and not overwhelming.
But here is kind of my one key gem that I think I keep returning to and have found incredible value in. I put my to do list on my calendar. So I eliminate the fact that it's even a list at all. But it's even a separate thing separate from my day to day activities on my calendar, I schedule it as if it were a meeting. They're actually events. These to-dos are actually going in as events on my calendar. And so what that requires is estimating the amount of time it will take to complete the task and then adding that amount of time as if it were, for example, a two hour meeting into my calendar. And then once the day is filled up, I know I can't do any more tasks on that day, so I need to add it to the next day. And if something comes up that absolutely has to be done today and I have a couple of things that are actually not time sensitive, but I had just blocked them in my calendar for today, I can move those tasks that got ousted from today to open slots later in the week. And you'll notice that I don't delete them unless they actually don't have to be done,
and that's kind of a mindset shift, right? Thinking about, does that actually need to get done? And if not, maybe that just comes off the plate. It's not a really high leverage activity that's going to get me a lot of growth and movement towards my vision. I don't need to do it and maybe it comes off, but I don't lengthen my workday to get them done, at least I try not to do that. Sometimes I break my own rules, but typically I try to just move them further down the week and you'll notice as you move them further down the week, what your priorities are, they'll kind of come to the surface as you have to make that decision about what gets bumped and where does it get bumped and what absolutely needs to be done this week and what can be done next week or a month from now and it would be totally fine because it's kind of this dream project that you have on the back burner and it's not super urgent right now, but it's something you want to return to again.
We'll talk about that later in the planning series. David Allen has a really great system for going through all of these different types of to-dos and things that could be on your list and what to do with them. So I am excited to talk to you more about this.
But putting it on the calendar, I think is one of the best ways to make sure that the things that need to get done fairly recently, today, tomorrow, this week, next week that those actually get done. That has been really critical for me and also with the caveat of not lengthening my day to get them all done, but keeping within those boundaries that we set that we talked about in tip number one.
So let's go back through those five tips for scheduling. One: set our boundaries. Know when we are going to stop the work day and when we have to say no to meetings or other work. Schedule an alignment with your energy. So know when you are most creative, most focused, most ready to batch and scheduled for that. Number three: batch your work, make sure that we are in the flow state and we can stay in there to make sure we're not paying that switching costs of moving between tasks. Tip four: take breaks whenever you can stand stretch, move around, get up, clear the brain. And tip five : put it on the calendar to make sure that it gets done.
There are a ton more tips coming in the rest of this mini planning series. So just to recap, we have spent the last two, this episode and the one before it, talking about how you spend your time in the 50 40 10 planning method in the previous episode. This episode was all the tips, a hodgepodge of different tips of getting started, building momentum around changing behavior and then scheduling on a day to day basis.
Our next episode in the series is going to be about rethinking the beliefs that get in the way. So digging into the underlying beliefs that prohibit us from moving forward. The following episode will be about clearing the mind. We're going to talk a little bit about essentialism which I find really fascinating. I'm just starting to kind of dive into that way of thinking, but making sure that we have a clear mind so we can have high energy and lots of focus.
Part five is going to be about advancing our personal wellness. So we'll talk about some different aspects of wellness from the literature and some practical strategies we can implement to advance our own wellness. And part six, I think that often gets in the way of all this other stuff, of all this good stuff we're working towards, is how do I lesson plan quickly and efficiently. So we have to spend less time in our planning mode.
Also, if you want me to take you on an in depth walkthrough of how I saved 700 hours of planning time in one year as a teacher, my self paced online course Work Less Teach More is now open for enrollment.
The course is 197 and I don't know about you but my professional and mental well being is worth way more to me than $200. You can enroll today at bit B I T dot lee L Y slash W L TM Course, bit.ly/wltmcourse. I'll also drop that link in the show notes. Now, if you're a school leader who's listening and wanting to help your teachers free up the time and the energy to tackle these big transformative projects you got going, you can purchase this course for your teachers as a pilot for one department or grade team or for the whole school. If any of you educators, either teachers, instructional coaches, leaders want to chat and see if the course would be a good fit, go ahead and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can set up a free 20-minute consultation call to chat with you.
Finally our freebie for the week. This is one of the most popular freebies I think I have ever created, is my scheduling template. It is a digital Google Docs scheduling template that you can just make a copy of and move the pieces around. I also included in addition to the blank template, a concrete schedule example of a teacher working from home.
So that is bit.ly/workfromhomeschedule. Thank you so much for tuning in to another episode of our mini planning series and I will see you in the next episode.
Thanks for listening, amazing educators. If you loved this episode, you can share it on social media and tag me @lindsaybethlyons or leave a review of the show, so leaders like you will be more likely to find it. Until next time leaders, continue to think big, act brave, and be your best self.
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Lindsay Lyons (she/her) is an educational justice coach who works with teachers and school leaders to inspire educational innovation for racial and gender justice, design curricula grounded in student voice, and build capacity for shared leadership. Lindsay taught in NYC public schools, holds a PhD in Leadership and Change, and is the founder of the educational blog and podcast, Time for Teachership.