Lab Leader Materials

On this page, you will find estimates on time commitment, best practices for facilitation, and suggestions for how to structure your lab discussions.

Time Commitment and Approaches

As the head of a lab whose lab members are participating in the LTW program, you will have your own goals and considerations for structuring your discussion sessions. One of the first decisions you will have to make is to decide how frequently you will want to meet and what the focus of those discussions will be.

Here are three options to consider:

1.) Act-based Discussions

Your lab members will go through the content individually, completing logbook reflections and exercises as they move through the episodes; you may schedule discussions at the end of each Act to reflect on the main takeaways. The advantage of doing the program this way is that it provides more flexibility to lab members and requires fewer meetings.

  • A possible schedule might be: 5 sessions (Introduction, Act 1, Act2, Act 3, Module 1 wrap up) each about 90 min to 2 hours every four to six weeks.

2.) Topic Specific Discussions

You may also let members of your lab go through the entire program at their own pace and ask everyone to finish by a specific date. You can then hold discussions on specific topics of the program as a whole. The advantage of this approach is that is gives participants more flexibility in how to proceed through the program. Before you engage in a topic specific discussion session, let participants know they should watch the entire movie and complete the logbook sessions for the episodes relevant to the topic (indicated in our facilitator guide). This approach also works well for educators who want to integrate materials from the LTW program into classes to cover certain topics. 

3.) Episode Specific Discussion

You may want to have a discussion after each episode or group of episodes. This structure will work well to keep everyone in your lab going through the program together and learning together; however, it is the most time consuming. If your lab participants are going through the logbook at the same time you could devote 20 to 30 min of your weekly lab meetings to discuss 1 or 2 episodes.

  • A possible schedule might be: 24 sessions, 30 min every week, for a total of 12 hours.

Best Practices for Facilitation

Deciding on schedule and location

  • You may do a short survey to agree on a schedule for these sessions or do them at a time regularly scheduled for lab meetings.
  • If you are meeting in person, having chairs in a circle (vs. classroom style in rows or desks, where some members have their backs to others) or around a table encourages discussion, equality, and familiarity.
  • Meeting online may help with access and make everyone, regardless of whether they are on site or somewhere else, feel included. If you are meeting online you may want to include guidelines about camera use and how to ask questions (e.g. use raised hand function in Zoom) in your discussion guidelines.

Deciding on length and structure of each session

  • You may do a short survey to agree on the appropriate length for these sessions
  • Determine where breaks will be built into the session.

Providing materials

  • Consider whether you will need a projector, whiteboard, access to computers, etc.
  • Remind everyone of the norms of discussions that you agreed to.
  • Have personal scripts ready to acknowledge the conflict and diffuse the situation.
  • If you say something that is hurtful or problematic and you realize it, you can say “oops” to acknowledge it and then try again. Alternatively, if someone else said something harmful or problematic then you can say “ouch,” which lets everyone know that there’s something that needs to be discussed further.
  • Call people in rather than out. For example, if someone uses a word that is considered a slur, explain why you would never use that word and why.
  • When it comes to triggering content or conversations– allow participants to leave the room or take a break.
  • Sharing the agenda and discussion prompts ahead of the session may help the session run more efficiently as lab members will have a chance to think about what they want to say ahead of time
  • Every group has people who like to share what they are thinking more than others and may take up more time during a session. To keep discussions on track and on schedule it may help to provide additional ways for people to share their ideas. For example, you may set up a shared document where people can share their ideas after the session. If your lab uses Slack or another messaging tool, consider setting up a Slack channel where lab members can continue to share after a session.
  • Sometimes things come up in discussions that are not aligned to the topic of discussion. Encourage lab members to write down these ideas somewhere so that they can be revisited at either a later session or in some other forum.
  • This guide provides suggested times for various discussions. Times will vary depending on the size of your lab and the people in your lab. Try to keep discussions focused and on schedule to the best of your abilities; however if discussions run long you can always cut out some of the planned discussions or provide other ways for people to share ideas. After the first session you will get a better sense of what timing works best for you.

1. Review goals of the LTW program and of the discussion sessions

2. Openings/Introductions

Example 1. A quick check-in on days that may have a lot going on in the world, ask (go around group)

  • What percentage are you in the room today?

Example 2. A slightly longer way to engage the group with each other would be to ask each person to share a success, challenge, or idea.

  • Success = A highlight, success, or something positive that happened today.
  • Challenge = A challenge you experienced or may want more support with.
  • Ideas = New ideas that have blossomed or something you are looking forward to knowing more about.

3. Guidelines for discussions

  • Lab Members discuss and agree to uphold discussion guidelines
  • Prompt members with some examples of guidelines. These may get people thinking and considering what they want to value in discussion
  • Once the group agreement is finalized make a copy and bring it up during other discussion sessions or when conflicts arise

4. Structure

  • Go over schedule, roles, communication, etc. for the discussions

5. Group Discussions

  • Depending on time, you may want to include one or two discussions in your introductory session.
  • The first group discussion may be to ask participants to discuss what they would like to get out of these sessions and/ or share any concerns or needs that they have to make these discussions successful.
  • Consider whether you want to have a whole lab discussion or assign lab members to smaller groups and then share out with the larger group.

6. End-of-session reflection

  • Give participants 5 min to write down key take-aways (choose from menu of reflection prompts)
  • You can also have participants go around the room and share these insights with the group (i.e. what they learned, how it is applicable to their lives, etc.)
  • You can also have participants reflect on the discussion session itself– what worked and did not work (e.g. use the start, stop, continue, change protocol)
  • Revisit the norms of discussion and ask lab members whether they want to make any changes based on how this first discussion went

Most sessions should include the following elements:

  • Session goals
  • Agenda and any content warnings
  • Discussions and share-outs
  • Wrap up and reflection

If you chose to meet with your lab every week for 30 min, these discussion prompts will help you guide a discussion centered around each episode or couple of episodes.