In this episode, Christine and Tammy talk about the Triple Funnel questions that they have included in the chapters of their book. The Triple P's are: Purpose, Priorities, and Pare Down. Thinking about teaching in this way and answering the questions in the funnel framework help educators narrow their focus.
Free resource - The Matrix
This episode is sponsored by The Learning Loop. Allison provides professional learning design and facilitation services to districts, schools, nonprofit organizations, and businesses internationally.
Today we're going to be talking about the Triple P framework that we talk about in our book, The Minimalist Teacher. So welcome, Tammy. How are you today? I'm good, Christine. How are you? Yeah, I'm good. Thank you. So I wanted to talk about the Triple P Funnel because it's such a, a keystone point of our book, that really is a thread that runs through the whole book.
And when we talk about the Triple P, we're talking about. Purpose, priority and paring down. We really came to the triple P, these three main points because whenever we were discussing minimalism and our approach and how to talk to teachers about it, we just kept coming back to those sort of three key ideas.
Can you tell us a little bit about why we called it the triple P and, and why do we really need more educational jargon? Great question. Well, the good thing is, I, I feel like it's not jargon because the triple P, right? We've, it's easy to call it triple P because we have three P's. And so, when we're talking about purpose, priorities and paring down, it's not new language.
It's language that we use in everyday context, which I think is helpful, but we just framed it in a way that. It would make sense for educators to kind of keep in mind with a nice little visual. So, that purpose really is that overarching idea of like, what are we doing here? And what's the point of.
What what we're doing. And then how do we match that with the priorities that we have set out for us? And that's going to be different depending on your role. And what your aim is, or your goals are for any set amount of time, because those things are going to change also. And then how do we really pare that down so that we stay focused on meeting our priorities?
To meet that overarching purpose. So, we have in our book, this funnel that's, you know, goes from that big purpose that big opening at the top. And then by the time you've worked through a bunch of questions that we've laid out, then you end up in that kind of pare down state that helps you. Remain focused because paring down is.
Focus, right? We have to tune into what it is that we really. Need to do. Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, we, we have organized it into this funnel and, and why do you feel like that's a helpful metaphor for teachers at this point in our education system? The funnel is a great metaphor because I mean, it's a great visual too, to have, to think about funneling through things.
So if we think about our purposes, that overarching, you know, it's a big idea. But when we can have some focus questions to help us identify specific priorities and what we're doing that helps us then come out to the bottom of the funnel, which is much more narrow and focus. And that's our paired down state.
So having an attached metaphor or a symbol even. To kind of just think about that. If we do get lost in like, what am I doing here? You can think of that and just kind of whittle away, whittle your way through that. Yeah, absolutely. Because it feels at times like there's so much coming at us and we, you know, you can almost like drown in all the different things that, that we're supposed to be doing.
I know when talking to educators, a lot of people have said, you know, like, how can we find out priorities when like. Everything feels urgent. Can you talk a little bit about that and, and, you know, bringing it back to the importance of tearing it down? Yeah, for sure. Just when you were saying, you know, we can kind of get.
Lost in it or drown in it. I was thinking about when we do pour things into an actual funnel and how it starts swirling, and that can be what our mind does. Absolutely. So, just that visual feels overwhelming. And so one of the tools that we use often we've had great response with is our urgent, important matrix, which helps people identify some priorities.
And so your list of priorities, and sometimes. That looks like your to do list, right? We always have lists everywhere and post its in our Google calendars or however you organize yourself. And there is some danger in that because we get overwhelmed by a list, too. There's just so many things to do and we can't identify what we should do first.
So, if we set up a structure like a matrix to help us sort through some of those priorities, it will help us. Then focus in on just one or two things that are actually priorities. So, we have, it's just a simple matrix where we section out, you know, the, the top left square is things, those are the things that are urgent and important.
And then we've got the top right box in the bottom left, which are,, one of them is, Important, but not urgent. And the other one is urgent, but not important. And then that bottom right box would be those things that are not urgent. Nor important, . Sometimes we'll provide a list to people, right? So, like, if we're thinking about some of those over overarching ideas, like, do they need to sort out how they use their time?
Do they need to focus on self care? Do they need to think about different instructional strategies? So we give them a list of, like. Nine things or something and people sort them out. And it's interesting to see what ends up in that urgent and important box. And it's usually 1 or 2 things and then the things that are in the neither urgent nor important box.
Those are the things that we kind of get. They trip us up, right? They, we think that they're important because we can do them quickly, check them off the list or something like that, but. Those aren't the things that we should be prioritizing at the time. Those are just the quick, easy things. And sometimes the priorities are those higher level thinking things that we need to spend the time on, but we.
We're afraid or we're reluctant or anxious to invest the time in it because it's harder. Right. Yeah. And that can look like a lot of things in our roles. So, but just seeing those couple of things in that box is, is, is really interesting to see people when they realize. Oh, that's what I need to do. That's what needs to go through the funnel, right?
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That's what I need to focus on. And then you ask yourself a bunch of other questions about, okay, how do I really focus on these couple of priorities then? Yeah. So it's a really, it's a really, it's a simple process, but it's, it's highly reflective and it does make people think. Yeah, for sure.
For sure. So what I'd like to do is, is give some little examples of how the triple P framework, the triple P funnel shows up in the different aspects of the book, the different topics that we're covering. , so for example, when we're talking about decluttering the physical space, where we're working, we think about, you know, the purpose of, of each of the different.
Areas within our working area. So if it's a classroom, what is the purpose of your mat area? What is the purpose of the table space? What's the purpose of the shelving? And then really thinking about what do I need in that space? What are my priorities? For objects and items or furniture,, in that space, that is going to help meet the purpose.
And then what can I get rid of? What can I pair back and get out of that space? Because it's not a priority and it's not meeting my purpose. So,, maybe we can go through the other chapters a little bit and, and think about how the triple P,, really, , gets used. Purposefully in those different, , in those different areas.
So I'm just going back to the book here. Looking at the chapters. Yeah. Why not? It's right next to me. For sure. And the physical space too, I think. It can be daunting for people because it depends on your space, like, are you in a classroom or an office or, you know, whatever, but, it's a good entry point for people to start with because it's something you see every day and that you work in, even though it feels like, oh, man, I don't want to open up that cupboard because there's just a bunch of stuff that I shoved in there, but it definitely is a process to go through, like Christine just said, like, We got, you know, we have to think about the purpose of the things that are inside this cupboard and and do they meet the priority for my learners in my classroom or for the teachers that I serve and it's.
It's a really enlightening process, for sure. It is, yes. But we will come back to that later on. We'll, we'll spend some more time with that one. But, let's just, let's just touch on the decluttering the curriculum. How can, what would the triple P look like in decluttering the curriculum? Well, a question that I often ask teachers and coaches, whoever is in workshops, would be, so what is the purpose of the curriculum that you have?
And the answers vary, but they, you know, you do have to really think about, okay, what are you using to teach and what is its purpose? Mm-hmm. And closely to that. Is it meeting your, the meet, is it meeting the needs of your students? Yeah. Or the students if you're not a teacher. Right. So that's a, a question that there's a little bit of silence around sometimes.
Because, like, people don't want to be wrong, and there isn't a wrong answer necessarily, but are we thinking about the real purpose of what, the stuff that we use to teach? And sometimes we don't get a choice in that, and that makes it a bit hard. It does, yeah. So, just, yeah, so just identifying that, though, like, thinking about, okay, the purpose of this program is this, cool.
Is it meeting the needs of the learners in front of me? Yes. Good. Excellent. And then, you know, further to that, whatever the priorities are, because you've got different learners in a classroom, or you have different teachers on your staff. So, you do have to think about the aspects of a curriculum in terms of individual learners, too, and that takes a bit of time.
But it does help you pare down the things that you don't need in it, because why use the pieces if they aren't serving your learners? Yeah. Which is your ultimate purpose for sure. And then if we think about, assessment strategies, so I guess, again, we've got to start with the purpose. Like, what is it that you're trying to assess?
Are you assessing knowledge? Are you assessing skills? Are you assessing the transfer of those knowledge and skills? Right. So that we kind of start again there with the purpose. Yeah. And then where, where do we go from there with the priorities and the pairing down? Again, assessment is tricky, right?
Because a lot of teachers. I'm just throwing some tricky questions at you there, Tammy, so. I know. And it's, it's sort of hard to, it's hard to answer and not hard to answer at the same time because, you know, teachers have this pressure about assessments. Whether they're diagnostic or formative or state tests or, you know, whatever formal assessments are getting done, but again, you have to align your assessment with what you're teaching.
So you're not just throwing out random assessments like you want to make sure that, okay, is your priority to get this kind of information from your students or a student or this group of students, then make sure that that's what the purpose. Thanks. Of your assessment is. Yeah. And think about it. It's almost easier to think about the assessments in a paired down state from the beginning.
Mm hmm. Yeah. What do I need this, what do I need this to look like for me to match the purpose and priority? So it's kind of like who is going, who's going to be using this assessment? Yeah. If you're using it with the students, that's going to totally change the wording you use, the structure you use, and you can go back from there.
Yeah, I agree with you. Yeah, for sure. Okay. Well, that's just a little taste of, of the triple P,, and how we use it throughout the book. And, and when we're thinking about different elements of our work in education, , we'll definitely come back and spend some more time on the different chapters in, in future episodes.
But we just wanted to give you a little taste of the triple P today, and how that goes. So thanks Tammy for sharing all of your knowledge and ideas with us. Thank you, Christine. This episode is sponsored by The Learning Loop. The Learning Loop provides professional learning design and facilitation services to districts, schools, non profit organizations, and businesses internationally.
You can find them at thelearningloop. com.
Be sure to join Tammy and Christine and guests for more episodes of the Minimalist Educator Podcast. They would love to hear about your journey with minimalism. Connect with them at PlanZPLS on Twitter or Instagram. For the podcast has been written and performed by Gaia Moretti.