Professional Development


UpShift is our one-of-a-kind professional development program for educators.

We’ve harnessed our thirty-plus years of expertise in experiential learning design to offer you this intelligent and heart-centered training designed to elevate your team dynamics, support a low-drama, healthy work culture and rekindle your professional passion.



If you are an educator, you’re likely not in it for the fame, glory, riches, or accolades.

You work hard to provide our world with something far more valuable. However, even the most purpose-led, passionate among us can sometimes lose touch with what brought us to the profession in the first place.  We can lose sight of the most essential heart of our work. Or, even if we are individually determined, achieving our goals requires collaboration with a community of  people. There are parents, colleagues, students, board members, staff members, and any number of others.

If the team works against itself, the mission can’t succeed.

That is where we come in.


This isn't your typical slide-deck, lecture, or training session. 

UpShift is an immersive and interactive day of learning through engaging activities and thought-provoking discussions. You’ll delve deeply into practical applications of what you are learning and practice with real-world scenarios.
 This program complements other learning tools and modalities your staff has already implemented or will try, and offers a fresh approach.

We’ll dive into the intricacies of interpersonal dynamics with a thorough exploration of concepts and practices that underpin our award-winning Challenge Day program.

You’ll learn and apply models of group dynamics, including Karpman’s Drama Triangle and Emerald’s Empowerment Dynamic.  You'll discover ways in which we all participate in and perpetuate drama, and how to get out of that.  We'll offer tools that help with reducing conflict, de-escalating intensity and bridging separation.  Through the understanding of a few simple frameworks, we've found great success in fostering work cultures that are low in drama and high in connection, compassion and effectiveness.   Educators often leave this training lit up with re-ignited purpose and  equipped with practices to interrupt when unhealthy patterns interfere with their mission. This, in turn, enhances their ability to work in harmony with their team, aligning perfectly with the core values of education.
“Partnering with Challenge Day was a transformative experience for our school district. It pushed us out of our comfort zones and opened our eyes to the power of empathy and connection. Through meaningful and authentic activities and honest conversations, we gained a deeper understanding of ourselves and our colleagues. Our professional learning session reminded our school community of the importance of compassion and acceptance in building a more inclusive and supportive learning environment. I witnessed firsthand the power of vulnerability and the beauty of human connection. The professional learning session doesn't just challenge perspectives; it reshapes them, leaving a lasting impact on individuals and communities alike. It's a profound journey towards understanding, acceptance, and ultimately, love.”
Dr. Roberta Freeman, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools, Middlesex Borough Public Schools
20 minutes

Welcome and Setup

Meeting and Video Introduction
The day begins with a warm greeting as participants meet the facilitators and each other, fostering an environment of openness and readiness. A brief video, depending on available technology, sets the tone for the day, illustrating our core themes and goals.
20 minutes
20 minutes

Setting Expectations

Welcome Speech and Agreements
We officially start the session with a welcome speech, where the agenda is thoroughly discussed to set clear expectations. Participants agree on engagement norms and understand the importance of their contributions towards fostering a collaborative environment throughout the day.
20 minutes
30 minutes

Unpacking Challenges

Background Sharing and Challenge Discussion
This segment delves into the complexities of the participants’ roles within their educational environments. We discuss the unique challenges faced by educators and the impacts on their interactions with peers, students, and parents, setting the stage for personal reflection and collective insight.
30 minutes
15 minutes

Building Connections

Icebreakers and Group Formation
Interactive icebreakers lighten the atmosphere, enabling participants to engage playfully and authentically. Following the fun, we assign individuals to breakout groups for the day's sessions, encouraging them to silently reflect on specific work relationships they aim to improve.
15 minutes
60 minutes

Heart-Centered Learning

Philosophy of the Heart Presentation
Participants explore our proprietary 'Philosophy of the Heart'. This heart-centered approach addresses how we often construct personal and professional barriers and how these can be understood and dismantled to foster better cooperation and understanding in our work and social lives.
60 minutes
45 minutes

Reflective Breakouts

Group Discussions on Personal Revelations
In their breakout groups, participants discuss their revelations from the heart-centered presentation and relate these insights to their own real-life challenging interactions. This deep dive helps in identifying personal and systemic barriers to effective communication and collaboration.
45 minutes
30 minutes

Midday Reflections

Large Group Sharing
Gathering back as a large group, participants share reflections, insights, or pose questions about the morning’s activities. This session aims to integrate individual experiences and insights, fostering a sense of community and shared purpose among all attendees.
30 minutes
45 minutes

Diving Deeper

The Drama Triangle Exploration
After lunch, we introduce the Drama Triangle model, explaining its relevance in everyday interactions. Participants learn about the roles of victim, rescuer, and persecutor, and through facilitated discussions, begin to recognize these dynamics in their own behaviors and interactions.
45 minutes
45 minutes

Empowering Alternatives

The Empowerment Dynamic
Building on the understanding from the Drama Triangle, this segment introduces the Empowerment Dynamic as a transformative tool. We explore how to shift from disempowering roles to constructive, empowering ones that foster healthy interactions and personal growth.
45 minutes
30 minutes

Practice and Role Play

Simulation of Real-World Interactions
Participants engage in role-playing exercises to apply their new understanding of interaction dynamics. These simulations help solidify learning and provide a safe space to experiment with different approaches to challenging situations encountered in their professional lives.
30 minutes
15 minutes

Communicative Outreach

Writing and Sharing New Insights
This practical session allows participants to write messages to each other using the new communication tools learned. It serves as a bridge to begin altering their everyday interactions, supported by feedback from peers and facilitators.
15 minutes
30 minutes

Community Speak Out

Open Forum for Discussion and Troubleshooting
In this closing large group session, individuals are encouraged to voice their questions, share their difficulties in implementing new strategies, or propose ideas for future improvements. This open dialogue reinforces the day's learnings and supports ongoing personal and professional development.
30 minutes
10 minutes

Program Closure

Final Reflections and Celebration
The day concludes with closing remarks, summarizing key takeaways and strategies for maintaining momentum. Participants gather for group photos, celebrating their achievements and the connections made throughout the program.
10 minutes

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Upshift / What happens at an UpShift workshop?

UpShift is our one-of-a-kind professional development program for educators, administrators, faculty members, and professionals. We’ve designed this experiential workshop to elevate your collaborative team dynamics and strengthen lines of effective communication.

UpShift is an immersive and interactive day of experiential learning. Participants learn via engaging activities and thought-provoking discussions. We’ll delve deep into practical applications and practice with real-world scenarios.

Individuals discover the learned and habitual tendencies they and others have that lead us to defensiveness and separation.  We then explore two models of group dynamics. Participants discover how these frameworks shape interactions among students, teachers, parents and community members in any combination. The group will learn to overcome limiting group behavior, and realize personal empowerment and group cohesion.

How long is the program / Can UpShift be adapted to fit into a scheduled PD time?

The standard UpShift program is 5-6 hours plus any time for lunch and breaks. The actual program length, however, is based on the number of participants and the needs of the group. A planning meeting with our staff (near time of booking) will reveal the best way for UpShift to fit your needs, and yes, the program can be flexible to meet your needs.

Can the program be divided into multiple sessions?

We recommend completing this training in one day. UpShift can divide into two parts, however. If your group has a special scheduling concern, we’d love to hear from you and see how we can provide what you need.

Who is UpShift for?

This is a program for adults. It works for school faculties (including at universities). It is designed for teachers, school staff, community members, professionals, administrators, and interested parents.

How many people can attend the UpShift workshop? Is there a minimum number?

We recommend sending your whole staff to experience the workshop. That said, 100-400 in a day is the ideal for UpShift.

Won't the benefits fizzle like previous development days?

Along with your UpShift client package, your team will be granted access to an interactive app through which they can participate in guided activities, review concepts, and engage in ongoing learning, moderated by Up Shift’s creators and facilitators.

Is this a DEIA / SEL / CRT-Based program?

We do not teach a Diversity, Equity or Inclusion curriculum. 

We do connect people.  In a way that is politically and ideologically neutral, we support people in developing greater personal empowerment, strengthening compassion, and increasing a sense of belonging.  We offer tools that improve interpersonal dynamics, including across lines of difference.

 Many who desire a DEIA workshop may find that UpShift works at the problems they see without divisiveness. 

Can this be done at a university / company / other organization?

Yes! UpShift is ideal for any organization where it is valuable for a team to collaborate with each other without the inefficiency of social and interpersonal drama. 

Can the program be virtual?

In theory, yes it can, and we can discuss this in a client planning meeting. However, it is highly recommended to try for an in-person experience.

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