FROM THE ARCHIVES: Planning Series #3: The Beliefs That Get In The WayRead Now
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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.
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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.