I had the good fortune to be in four meetings over the last two days that I would label as skillful conversations. Two were with principals and Teaching and Learning staff, one was with colleagues at the central office to begin planning the process for budget cuts, and one was with our Technology Fusion team. In each, people were using paraphrases to ensure understanding, asking clarifying questions, and attempting to balance advocacy with inquiry. SPACE skills were alive and well.
I was particularly pleased with the willingness of some staff to openly share private thoughts with difficult content. In each case it enhanced the conversation allowing us to explore issues at a deeper level. In the Fusion meeting, we were able to openly discuss the loss of TRUST some are feeling because of a recent process that did not include all parties in meaningful roles. We were able to sustain through the sharing without some going to fight or flight, or falling into group practices that bring the meeting back to safe conversations. Though it will not be easy, we now have an opportunity to mature as a team as we process this issue.
Once again it is energizing to be able to engage with my colleagues when we use the skills we are learning. It validates our leadership training program and reinforces my belief in the need to distribute leadership throughout our school system. The work we are doing demands dialogue and skillful conversations around important content. These are not possible in the absence of a solid foundation of communication knowledge and skills and skillful facilitation to take advantage of this foundation. We are beginning to hit the mark in our system.