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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Laster

Leading, Learning, and Collaborating with Trish Hinze

Updated: May 31

In anticipation of our summer Learning Forward Texas conference, we’re thrilled to present a series of interviews with our keynote and pre-conference speakers. To start, dive into our conversation with Trish Hinze, where she shares her insights on collaboration, transforming teams, and building collective efficacy. Get ready to be inspired!

I recently had the opportunity to visit with Trish Hinze, who is a longtime leader and presenter for Learning Forward Texas. During our discussion, Trish delved into various topics, including her upcoming conference session, as well as strategies for enhancing collaboration, harnessing emotional intelligence, and protocols for building teams. 

Here are highlights from our engaging conversation, where you’ll also get a sneak peek into some of her takeaways from her Cultivating Leadership session. 

Kathryn: What does true collaboration mean to you? 

Trish: The idea of true collaboration is creating an environment where educators can learn and work together in the most efficient and effective way. We share resources and tap into each individual's expertise. I think the most essential component of true collaboration is working to achieve a common goal. With a clear target, our work and our processes then become laser-focused.

I believe we think differently when we're working in true collaboration. We see the impact of what we're doing and feel the synergy; we get that increase in productivity and efficiency that can only come from working with a team. Often the result is innovative ideas or plans of action formulated only by the contributions of all team members. Then when we experience incremental progress toward our common goal we’re energized and willing to engage further.

True collaboration creates an environment where educators can learn and work together in the most efficient and effective way, providing opportunities to share resources and tap into each individual’s expertise.

K: One outcome of your session is that participants will explore strategies to build collective educator efficacy. So, what exactly is collective efficacy, and what can be a first step to cultivating it within our teams?

T: Our definition of collective efficacy is the belief that team members can make a significant impact on our students by working together. We’re typically talking about teams of teachers, but certainly it's the same for leadership teams or teams of instructional coaches, or any other educator teams. And when we have that belief that we can make a difference, then we typically do.

I love John Hattie's research that reflects the significance of Collective Teacher Efficacy, and our Cultivating Leadership session is grounded in his work. Hattie’s updated meta-analyses show Collective Teacher Efficacy is one of two main determinants of student success, so as leaders we need to build that belief system by equipping teams with practical strategies to engage in their work efficiently and effectively, empowering them. Digging into Hattie’s research to gain an understanding of the definition and potential impact of collective efficacy could be a powerful first step for teams.

Many teams struggle with safeguarding their most sought after resource, time. One practical example to help teams is a 3-minute protocol called “Drop in the Bucket,” where you ask team members to set aside any pressing issues currently on their minds and “pick them up” later following team time. As the leader you model this. This short protocol allows teams to use their time well, focusing on learning and working toward their goals. It also models and helps build the team’s collective emotional intelligence, by recognizing and validating that we all have important personal and professional concerns, but leading in a way that safeguards the time allotted for our team work.

Drop in the Bucket Process: Each team member will (individually): Identify what's currently on their mind. Write down the issue and set it aside for now (place it in a bucket). Focus on safeguarding the team's time together by setting aside other distractions. 3 minutes

K: Another outcome in your session description is that participants will experience processes that promote contributions from all team members. I think that equity of voices is so important, and that can be a challenge in professional learning sessions or meetings. How might you address this barrier in professional learning?

T: I love that you point out the significance of equity of voices, and in our current Learning Forward Standards, equity is a focus in each of the three components of the Standards. So how do we bring about equity in teams? Structured conversations provide a means to operationalize the belief that all voices are relevant and add to the learning. One protocol we model is called Irks and Quirks (shout-out to Thomas Van Soelen’s similar protocol, User Guide to Me).

For Irks and Quirks, we ask every team member to first reflect individually:

  • What gets on your nerves when you work with a team? What irks you? What can get in the way of your work?

  • What do you do that might annoy someone else? What do other people need to know about you? (These are the quirks.)

After reflecting, have each person share both their Irks and Quirks. This is a very effective way to set the stage for formulating or updating team learning agreements or norms. After everyone shares, participants agree that even after just 10 minutes, they have a much better sense of how to work with their teammates. 

If we are willing to label and discuss these (our Irks and Quirks), then as a team we can grapple with how to best work together as a team, despite our individual differences. This protocol values all voices and helps us formulate some very practical and deeper level learning agreements than just “Let's be on time.” Plus, protocols like Irks and Quirks are easily applicable not only to teacher teams, but for support staff, paraprofessionals, or anyone on a team that’s working towards a particular goal.

K: Since your work is all about professional learning and adult learning strategies, what have you learned since 2020 about designing and facilitating professional learning?

T: There's been so much to learn, and we have many COVID keeps. Much like we believe our students' attention spans have changed, I also believe that adult learners have different attention spans. So when we design professional learning for adults, we need to keep that in mind. We need to ensure that not only is our content relevant, but that we incorporate small chunks of content, with frequent and highly engaging processes for learning. With our experience teaching in a virtual environment, we now know that rather than even a 10-minute chunk of content, we need to re-engage our adult learners every four to six minutes to capture and hold their attention. 

K: What’s inspiring you to learn right now?

T: I’m excited to share the book Intentional Moves: How Skillful Team Leaders Impact Learning by Elisa MacDonald. Elisa’s focus is not only team functionality, which is absolutely important, but her work delves deeper to focus on impact. If we are going to expend the time and energy to work as collaborative teams, we need to ensure our work impacts learning, both adult and student learning. The book focuses on 10 Primary Intentions with correlating leader moves. The format of the book is a user-friendly, color-coded structure that guides teams to easy-to-use tools, and she  provides recommendations for how and when to use these resources. It frames the work of a skillful team leader starting with building a collaborative team culture and then promotes other critical moves such as the intentional use of data. One of my favorite intentions is implementing new learning. MacDonald provides tools to help team leaders navigate how we learn and then implement changes in small, manageable increments over time and even addresses dealing with resistance to change and conflict that are inevitable when we work in teams. These are the areas where teams falter, without guidance and proven resources. It’s quickly becoming one of my favorites!

K: In addition to signing up for your pre-conference session, Cultivating Leadership, what’s your advice for Learning Forward Texas conference attendees?

T: You may have had a little break from when the kids left school and the start of the conference, so enjoy that little breather and be ready to engage and learn.

Be intentional learners. Some people arrive at the conference and haven’t picked out the sessions they want to attend; plan ahead! What are your goals for next year? What do you feel like you truly need to learn? Then be intentional about your session choices. Sessions are organized in strands like “Team Leadership,” so following a chosen strand can provide multiple opportunities for learning that can help you reach your goals. 

Secondly, network! The networking opportunities with other like-minded learning leaders are what I love the most. The structured networking, such as receptions and affiliate meetings are great, but my favorite part is the networking that happens within the sessions, amidst that learning. 


It’s evident that Trish Hinze’s passion and expertise in fostering collaboration, building teams, and cultivating leadership is invaluable for educators at all levels. 

Join her pre-conference session on June 10, 2024, Cultivating Leadership: Facilitation Strategies to Foster Collaborative Practices with Adults, at the Learning Forward Texas Summer Conference. Trish's co-presenter is Diana Ely, from Northside ISD and former Learning Forward Texas Board Member. Find more details about her session and register on our conference website.

Connect with Trish on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Photo of Trish Hinze, and her pre-conference session, Cultivating Leadership:Facilitation Stratgies to Foster Collaborative Practices with Adults

Trish Hinze brings more than 30 years of experience to the role of educational consultant and professional learning leader. She is passionate about learning design and high-quality instruction for adult learners because when educators learn and improve their practice, students reap the benefits! Her areas of expertise are leadership development, andragogy and team practices that build educator emotional intelligence and collective efficacy. 


Kathryn Laster brings over 30 years of education expertise, as a math teacher, instructional coach, and digital learning consultant. Now, as an independent consultant, Kathryn creates and facilitates transformative learning experiences through intentional, human-centered, tech-infused design. Connect with Kathryn at Refined Learning Design or on Twitter @kklaster.

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