How to start a difficult conversation

Conversations begin at home. And at the bus stop. Also the market. And–

#everydaycourageSo much of the change we need to see right now can be kicked off by starting conversations with members of your community.

It takes a certain amount of courage to address issues that affect your whole community — such as bullying, hate speech and equity — with people who you may never have spoken with before.

But it’s effective. And the more you do it, the easier it gets. Let’s look at 4 ways to start a difficult conversation in your community.

Continue reading

Facilitating community conversations about education

4 lessons learned

how schools can conduct a community conversationA few months back, I wrote about how the Washington West Supervisory Union (WWSU) here in Vermont had initiated a series of conversations with the community with a kick-off film screening and discussion. I noted that “the most exciting thing about the conversation was the feeling in the room that we, as a community, could transform our schools. People were clearly ready and willing to have a conversation, and the general vibe was that we wanted to find a way to empower students to do great things within and beyond our schools.”

I’m happy to report that those positive feelings of community engagement coalesced into a sustained and profound exercise in participatory democracy. More than 100 community members came together during four two-hour Monday evenings in March. They worked in groups to examine their own beliefs, learn about school transformation efforts already underway, and ultimately provide recommendations that will be considered by the school system’s leadership team.

Continue reading

Defining innovation in Vermont education

What do we mean when we talk about innovation in Vermont education?

Life Legeros, Tarrant Institute for Innovative EducationRecently, theĀ #vted Twitter chat focused on innovation, and the conversation brought a mix of practical tips, brilliant insight, and positive sentiment. The take-home message for me was that innovation thrives in an environment with a balanceĀ of risk-taking, moral support, and professional learning.

Continue reading