Feeling Prepared to Teach

Vision: The future your work is aimed at creating for the world.

At Creating the Future, we envision a world where everyone is living well, individually and collectively. We know such a world is possible, simply because it is not impossible.

Mission: The result you are vowing to accomplish – the condition(s) you are vowing to shift – that will move the world towards that vision.

At Creating the Future, the mission we intend to accomplish within 10 years is to reach a tipping point around the world, where the questions people ask in their day-to-day lives bring out the best in people in any situation.

Programs / Products / Services: The work you do to accomplish your mission.

At Creating the Future, we are working to accomplish our mission through 4 program areas: Research & Development, Education, Demonstration, and Convening, all rooted in the framework of Catalytic Thinking.

It feels important to start this series of posts on Faculty Development with this context. Without this context, organizations and companies of all kinds tend to do their work in a vacuum… “We do this work because it is the work we do.”

But our work at Creating the Future is not intended to live on forever. We have a mission to accomplish, and only 8 years left on our 10 year mission. That means every individual action we take has to be strategic, targeted, accomplishing as many results as possible with that one step.

As our education programs scale beyond the founder-led start-up phase of this young organization, what does that scale-up make possible for accomplishing our mission? And what will it take to ensure those results are at the heart of our faculty development efforts?

To get to the heart of this question, we asked people with direct experience with our education programs – our current faculty (each of whom has stepped into that role in the past few months), and our current students. We are grateful to all of them for their insights.

What does scaling our programs to teach Catalytic Thinking make possible? For whom?

Catalytic Thinking is at the heart of all our work at Creating the Future – a set of practices that make explicit the factors that bring out the best in people in any situation. Scaling the programs that teach those practices would mean more teachers teaching more classes, more people learning these approaches, and thereby more people bringing out the best in themselves and those around them.

What would scaling to provide more classes make possible for the instructors?
Being an instructor means first that one is more deeply embedding these practices into their own life – and thereby bringing out the best in themselves and those around them, in every situation they encounter. If more individuals are feeling comfortable enough with these approaches to feel confident to teach, that alone is an awesome result!

More classes would also mean that instructors could generate income by teaching other people how to bring out the best in themselves and each other – an awesome way to make a living.

And it would mean that they would be doing work they love and care about, all while making a living deepening their own practice. Win win win!

What would scaling to provide more classes make possible for the people taking the classes?
What used to be our 5-day immersion course has become a 5-course curriculum, with 5 or 6 sessions in each class. Regardless of how it is taught, though, one common theme is that class size is small, so that people can interact, discuss, explore and practice together.

When Creating the Future’s founder was the only one teaching these courses, that limited the number of students who could learn, simply by the hours in a day. By expanding both the number of instructors and the number of classes offered, more people can learn and use these approaches to bring out the best in themselves and others.

What would scaling to provide more classes make possible for the people whose lives are touched by those taking or teaching the classes?
We know from experience that the ripple effect of these classes is tremendous, as these practices and their effects are contagious. We often joke that this is the When Harry Met Sally moment, from the deli scene, where the woman at the next table utters that famous line, “I’ll have what she’s having.”

Many of our current students come to us because they have witnessed what happens in a room when Catalytic Thinking is at play. They want to know how to create that positive energy. They want to know what it would take for them to get people to work together so joyfully. Often they feel like they have been waiting for this for years; that Creating the Future has put language to the very things they have been feeling for a long time.

And when they experience someone who has studied these approaches… BAM – the “When Harry Met Sally” moment!

That is why the most exciting potential result of scaling these programs is that ripple effect. More people working in joyful workplaces. More people feeling valued, feeling seen, feeling heard – all from the fact that more people are mindfully learning and practicing approaches for changing the questions they use for interacting with the world.

Imagine the effect if every workplace, from government departments and ministries to a mom-and-pop art gallery, from a large industrial plant to your own kitchen table – imagine what would be possible if everyone was naturally bringing out the best in others, through the questions we all ask in our day-to-day lives!

What would scaling to provide more classes make possible for Creating the Future’s mission?
The most obvious answer is the one just above this one – that everyone, everywhere would be bringing out the best in each other. In other words, our mission would be accomplished!

From an operational standpoint, though, developing faculty is a huge piece in succession planning for the founder. Up until recently, the only one teaching our immersion courses was Hildy. From a succession-ready standpoint, that is dangerous, and we are fortunate that there have been no serious glitches in the 17 immersion courses Hildy has taught.

But given the inevitability and uncertainty of life, reliance on a single individual is not the road to ongoing program success. If Creating the Future’s mission is to succeed, and the practices of Catalytic Thinking are to spread until they are ubiquitous, there must be systems in place for sharing that wisdom, beyond reliance on any one individual.

All this is what scaling our education programs can make possible. By scaling these programs and having faculty ready to teach the programs, we will be best assured of our ability to accomplish our mission, hitting the tipping point where these approaches to bringing out the best in each other are common, everywhere we go.

What would it take for instructors to be fully prepared to teach Catalytic Thinking?
If faculty were fully prepared to teach, what would that look like? And what would it take for that to be the reality?

Here’s just some of what that “fully prepared faculty” would look like. As you read through the list, see what you might add (and please add those in the comments!)

  • Individuals who are inspired to teach and confident to do so.
  • Individuals who are active practitioners of Catalytic Thinking, eagerly sharing stories of their own practice and its impact.
  • Individuals who are well-equipped with the tools for teaching, who deeply value not just the tools but their being prepared to use them.
  • Individuals who are having so much fun that others want to learn and teach.
  • Individuals working together with other faculty, co-teaching and co-learning, sharing stories and finding ways to support each other, to hold the space for each other’s success.
  • Individuals who feel knowledgeable, confident in their understanding not just of the approaches but the values at the heart of the content – confident that they will be walking the talk of those values.

Similarly, those who are taking courses taught by these instructors would want to be assured that those instructors (as told to us by some of our current students)…

… are fully prepared in all ways to teach (in the words of one of our current students, “that faculty know what they’re doing!”

… are learning from other practitioners and from the participants in the class – walking alongside others who are on the journey

… can be relied upon to support them in a safe, nurturing environment as they learn

What would it take, then, for instructors to feel confident, inspired, well-equipped to teach and share stories, in a co-learning environment that is safe, nurturing and fun?
What would new instructors need to know in order to be fully prepared to teach Catalytic Thinking? What would they need to have? What would they need to be assured of?

Here is a short list of what our students and new faculty felt would provide confidence and preparedness. As you read through the list, see what you might add (and please add those in the comments!)

  • Practice! Opportunities to practice with each other.
  • Experience of having headed in a direction that didn’t work, getting through it, and learning from that.
  • Seeing someone they think of as “doing it well” find their own way when things don’t go as anticipated. Sharing stories of things that didn’t work, the course corrections, and the results. Sharing approaches for getting back on track.
  • A safe space of vulnerability and acceptance among peers / mentors / trainers. Knowing they will never be out on a limb by themselves – that they will always be supported by a community of instructors and others who care about them and the cause. Faculty would need to know and trust each other.
  • Supportive, compassionate feedback – from their instructors and their peers
  • Training – on the approaches for teaching (vs how to use these practices yourself). Deep understanding of the theory behind each practice, to be able to share that theory with their students.
  • Training – on using the technology (for online classrooms and spaces)
  • Ongoing conversation about what they would need to feel confident and prepared to teach.

Over the next few weeks, people interested in teaching Catalytic Thinking will begin meeting to simultaneously learn, support each other, and continue to develop the brand new curriculum that we have begun to roll out.

As those new instructors step into that role, committing to the learning and preparedness and mutual support the role will entail, we will add to this list – and we encourage you to do so as well, in the comments below.

And as always, we will continue to share what we are all learning together.

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