Workplace Learning

Workplace Learning


Events and sabbaticals crafted for learning, action, and change.

Retreat Design & Facilitation



    Most events your employees go to have enormous resources devoted to them, yet they lose the opportunity to move people to creative, well-focused action. Typically, they lack a clear design from the point of view of participants’ experience — as opposed to the presenters’ experience.

    Sara designs events for learning, action, and change, drawing on her deep experience in creating theatrical events that engage audiences and designing and leading professional retreats.

    Her workshops and retreats hold their pitch for participants over time and kick off not just the call to action but the action itself. They multiply the value of the time taken away from participants’ ordinary work responsibilities.


Ask Sara to:

Design and facilitate events and retreats that:
galvanize participants toward strategically well-placed action, introduce and build ownership in change, and set up team members to solve new problems or to seek new solutions — or to bring their creative thinking to the fore in dramatically effective ways;

Partner with in-house teams or trainers to fine-tune their design of events to realize maximum impact;

Coach organizational leaders for participant and audience impact


In Sara’s inclusive approach to event design, you can count on a well-crafted experience, respecting each employee’s or contributor’s function within a given system. From the many places from which participants come, all walk away with exactly what they need to move forward toward the goal.

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Design & Management of In-House Sabbaticals



    Einstein’s genius lay in part in his readiness to recognize the need to let in air on the problem he was working to solve. Indeed, he said, “The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.” A wider point of view is needed.

    Sabbaticals In-House allow highly valued, especially mid- or late-career, employees to develop, execute, and integrate a structured program of learning based, like Einstein’s, on employees’ intuition and hunches about what they most need to learn next.


Sabbaticals In-House are different in three ways:


1. Sabbatical-takers stay put.

    Unlike traditional sabbaticals, which typically involve leaving the workplace entirely for a period of weeks or months, Sabbaticals In-House keep employees at work, giving them the opportunity to continuously integrate what they’re learning with their contributions to the workplace.

    The organization offers its highly valued employee paid time of 5 – 10 hours per week, for a suggested period of 1 to 3 months, enough to undertake a highly focused learning project of their choice while remaining on the job.


Everyone benefits:

Sabbatical-takers get life-changing experiences that transform their perspective on everyday work challenges and deepen their allegiance to the organization.


Because Sabbaticals In-House are “mini-sabbaticals,” co-workers have a more manageable task of covering the employee’s time and sabbatical-takers’ learning is available to be shared with them as it’s happening, rather than taking place offsite and “off-time.”


The organization gets refreshed problem-solving capabilities, complementary skills, and increased loyalty from employees it wishes to retain. The sabbatical-taker gets an important benefit of commitment to his or her growth from the organization.


2. Employees are free to learn anything they wish, provided they develop it into a coherent learning plan.

    Again, as Einstein told his son, in answer to his question about why his dad was so famous, “When a blind beetle crawls over the surface of a curved branch, it doesn’t notice that the track it has covered is indeed curved. I was lucky enough to notice what the beetle didn’t notice.” Einstein got out of his and others’ tired ways of thinking and solved problems perhaps because of his multiple interests not only in science but also in politics, religion, and the arts. You want that kind of liveliness on your team.

    In Sabbaticals In-House, sabbatical-takers are free to choose to undertake their learning in any field they wish to explore. Sara will help them identify resources, ensure an array of learning modalities, manage their time, harvest their learning, and apply the relevant learning to their work role. Often we are so linear in what we say an employee “needs” in order to develop professionally, that we miss the valuable lateral thinking that could help them address problems in their work roles in fresh ways.

3. The employees who most need the sabbatical are the ones who get it — not just the ones who are the best proposal writers.

    In traditional sabbatical programs, only those best in touch with how to articulate their learning needs and desires have a chance to have a sabbatical. But sometimes employees who might benefit most from a sabbatical have the hardest time articulating just what they would most like to learn — and thus don’t even have a chance to take one. (How many “stuck” adults do you know?)

    Bringing wisdom and a keen ability to sense what others have not yet been able to articulate, through in-depth interviewing Sara works individually with all who express an interest to surface and put into a strong proposal what they most need and want to investigate further. She helps everyone identify, flesh out, and articulate their Big Ideas, leveling the playing field so that those who most need the sabbaticals—get them!


The Sabbaticals In-House approach offers:



Safety for genuine learning

Exposure to lateral methods of getting at the learning through Sara’s experience across a wide array of business, services, education, and arts disciplines.

    Sara has partnered with hundreds of learners to devise individualized learning voyages that have brought them and those with whom they work fresh insights, skills, perspective, and professional renewal—a far different outcome than a packaged course might do.

Ask Sara to:

Collaborate with your HR department to devise an applicant proposal system to meet your needs

Offer opening workshop onsite to introduce Sabbaticals In-House program and invite proposals and schedule interview sessions to identify applicants' Big Ideas

Help applicants develop persuasive proposals through interviews and eliciting of each employee’s Big Ideas, ensuring a wider net of possible employees who can participate

Evaluate proposals and make recommendations of which to fund
Help successful applicants continuously identify relevant resources, manage learning time, and integrate ongoing learning with work responsibilities

Coach sabbatical-takers in process and offer feedback and guidance on their reflections and questions

Ensure successful integration of learning in the workplace

Facilitate Closing Workshop onsite for sabbatical-takers to share learning with co-workers.



I have learned that health-care professionals need to recognize our own “culture” and how it affects our job performance.


Sara’s exercises provoked connective thinking. Her presentation is carefully woven, yet at the same time teaches one to weave. For counselors she offers self-care, skills, and tools we can use with students, parents, and colleagues.


You did all that was necessary and more. No way could we have done all we did, and with a spirit and togetherness never experienced before. Not sure just how you did that.


She asks you to tread where you’re not comfortable but doesn’t demand it− all in the name of learning.


She asks you to tread where you’re not comfortable but doesn’t demand it− all in the name of learning.


She asks you to tread where you’re not comfortable but doesn’t demand it− all in the name of learning.


She asks you to tread where you’re not comfortable but doesn’t demand it− all in the name of learning.

















 Sara has really increased my understanding of the importance of action research. She has helped me learn how to better analyze data and use it to better my work.



















 I have learned more from the way Sara Schneider guides me to learn than anyone ... She is just enough of all the qualities throughout the spectrum from tough all the way to caring and everything in between.

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The Art of Undercover



“This training in aggressive scenarios should be given to all new UCs.”

“My confidence and performance noticeably improved.”

“Awesome use of resources!”


-- Maryland State Police


A 2-1/2 day training based on Sara's study of gifted undercovers' acting techniques, The Art of Undercover readies new and working undercover officers in the performance skills necessary to work both effectively and safely in their undercover roles.
maninshadowThink of it this way: Even the most “natural” actors study acting and rely on the feedback they get from directors to calibrate their performances. It's all that much more vital that undercover officers, working under dangerous performance conditions, know how they come across to others and practice, under safe conditions, time-tested strategies for increasing their believability.
Yet most undercover trainers do not have the performance training experience to offer meaningful performance feedback to officers putting their lives on the line in undercover investigations.
Sara began researching undercover operators' experiences and taking part in training with them in the mid-1990s. Her book, Art of Darkness: Ingenious Performances by Undercover Operators, Con Men, and Others, has been hailed by trainers and the public at large as “must” reading for law enforcement. Its strategies for officer safety have been profiled on  

Using Art of Darkness as textbook, trainings have drawn on the performance strategies experienced undercover operators have used to create credible performances in their roles, as well as on the techniques used to train professional actors. Shorter presentations and workshops can also be designed for your organization's needs.

Lecture is combined with active practice and critique, video scene analysis, cover story scripting, and debrief. Sara's book and additional course materials are included for participants.

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