Fierce Conversations
Posted 08/30/2019 04:00PM
A professional development opportunity in Maine gave Will Thayer, John Riggle, and Verian Tuttle the chance this summer to look at using meaningful conversation and feedback to develop relationships between colleagues and with students. 

“Teachers can do this better than most because we work with kids all the time,” Will, our Math Department chair, said. “But to build the relationships between adults on campus, we learned to be conversation focused, and the importance of helping people figure things out on their own, rather than telling them what to do. That way, they become more engaged, are more likely to follow through, and might not need help in the future if you empower them to think about each situation on their own. Insights are better when they come from within.”

Verian, our Early Learning Center Coordinator, shared how those practices can also be helpful in the classroom.

"Asking those questions - like, 'tell me more' or 'what else' - helps us get deeper into a conversation," she said. "It helps us learn patience and good listening skills, and it creates positive relationships through collaboration, which allows both the teacher and the student to sit down together, hear all sides, and create a productive plan." 

The workshop, based around the book Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott, also gave John some time to reflect on his own strategies for communication.

"The first note I made in my Fierce Conversations journal is, 'the conversation is the relationship.' Working with Will and Verian, I was reminded that honest listening and reflection are the cornerstones of successful relationships. My second note is, 'context creates our results,' and because empathy has always been an important part of my teaching philosophy, that phrase really resonates. The Maine workshop gave me the opportunity to reevaluate how I communicate with my peers, students, their parents, and even personally," he said. 

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