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Investing in Conversations

The following is the latest blog in our ongoing partnership with Fierce, Inc. You can read all of the entries on The Fierce Blog here.

Conversations are the life blood of a school. An integral part of the educator's job is communicating with students, parents, and other staff. These conversations range from team curriculum meetings, coaching conversations with staff and students, and, of course, some confrontation conversations.

Parents, students, and community members all have an expectation that administrators and teachers know how to have these conversations well. Why do we make this assumption? Because intuitively we understand how important effective conversations are to the success of a school.

The problem is that many education institutions don't dedicate time or resources to the development of staff in the area of communication. Schools have limited time and funds, and other professional development priorities often take precedence.

But when we view development only through the lens of providing academic training, we miss a critical opportunity to provide a constructive socio and emotional skill set for school staff.

What we gain by broadening our definition of development to include training around conversations is the chance for staff to communicate openly and authentically. When a school is operating with a higher awareness around conversations, it creates a solid foundation for the transfer of learning to happen and the implementation of academic programs to be successful.

The important thing to understand is that while student achievement is the ultimate goal, and our mission in education is to provide a well-balanced and rich educational experience for students, it' not the sole reason to invest in educators.

Want to retain the best and brightest educators? Equip with them with the tools necessary to be highly successful at what they spend their entire day doing: having conversations.

Lobbying for this type of training is not the responsibility of administrators alone. Teachers and staff have to take responsibility for how the culture currently supports communication, and if need be, move to action if changes need to happen.

What next steps, as an educator, can you take in improving your schools communication?

Janet Irving
Director of Education Partnerships, Fierce in the Schools

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The opinions expressed in Learning Forward's PD Watch are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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