Better conversations are the lifeblood of any school

Jim Knight’s book, Better Conversations: Coaching Ourselves and Each Other to Be More Credible, Caring and Connected, has lessons that can benefit you in the school setting, at work, with your family or in any social setting. Jim, who presented at a professional development session hosted by Northwest AEA last month, believes that better conversations are definitely needed during a time when there is a crisis in communication because conversations are the foundation to better relationships. In addition, communication is central to school improvement.

Jim presents six better conversation “beliefs.” These beliefs set a climate for better conversations. Better conversations give teachers an equal say in what happens in their schools and it also gives students a real voice in their learning. These beliefs include: 

Belief 1: I See Conversation Partners as Equals

Belief 2: I Want to Hear What Others Have to Say

Belief 3: People Should Have a Lot of Autonomy

Belief 4: I Don’t Judge Others

Belief 5: Conversation Should Be Back and Forth

Belief 6: Conversation Should Be Life-Giving

Two skills that Jim focuses on to improve communication are 1) asking better questions, and 2) listening. To evaluate your conversations skills, he suggests that you videotape yourself to see how you are communicating with others. You might be surprised at your lack of attention and/or your lack of interest in the other person. He suggests changing your behavior and focusing on being a better listener. 

Jim’s real challenge for us is to improve our relationships with others. Whether you are a parent, a friend, an instructional coach or a spouse, all of these lessons can help you become a better version—and more authentic version—of yourself. Better conversations allow us to strengthen or deepen relationships; understand people who are different from ourselves; understand opposite views and philosophies; and recognize that we have more commonalties than we have differences.

As Maya Angelou has been quoted, “I note the obvious differences between each sort and type, but we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”

Who can you have a better conversation with today?

As always, be sure to check out our blogs, which we hope will inform, inspire and guide your daily work:

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Educationally yours,

Dr. Tim Grieves
Chief Administrator