4 Conversations You Can Use to Hold Teachers Accountable
Note: School Leadership Reimagined is produced as a podcast and designed to be listened to, not read. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio, which includes emotion and emphasis that's not on the page. Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.
You're listening to the School Leadership Reimagined Podcast, episode number three.
Welcome to the School Leadership Reimagined podcast...
where we rethink what's possible to transform your school. If you're tired of settling for small wins and incremental improvement, then stay tuned to discover powerful and practical strategies for getting every teacher in your school moving towards excellence. Now, here's your host, Robyn Jackson. Yeah.
Hello there. Welcome back to another episode of School Leadership Reimagined. I'm your host, Robyn Jackson, and today we're tackling a question I get asked all the time, what can you say to a teacher to get that teacher to take more ownership and responsibility and accountability? Well, I can't promise you a magic bullet, but I do want to share with you today for conversations that you can use to hold teachers accountable.
So I want you to imagine a scenario with me...
Suppose you're working with a teacher who has been pretty resistant most of the year. She's never been openly hostile, but it's more of a passive aggressive thing. So imagine that for months now you've been telling her that she needs to update our grades on the online grading system so that our students and their parents can see how they're doing and for months now she's not been posting grades, so what are your options?
Well, if you're a boss, you're only option is to write her up and maybe if you do, she'll throw up a couple of grades just to appease you. If you're a leader, you don't want her to just throw up some grades. You want her to have better communication with parents and students about students progress. So you might sit her down and have what a friend of mine calls a come to Jesus, talk with her and try to convince her on how important posting grades is and maybe you give her some support to show her how to input grades again. So in case she missed that day or who knows, you might even excuse her from a mandatory training so that she has some time to get caught up on our grades. Maybe she ends up complying, but more likely, maybe she just finds a new way to avoid posting grades. More excuses.
Now, if you're a builder, you know that when a teacher is not doing something she shouldn't be doing, you have an accountability problem, so first you look for the root cause and you figure out whether you're dealing with a will issue and the teacher just doesn't want to post grades, or are you dealing with a skill issue and the teacher's trying to hide that. Our grading process and our grading policy really isn't up to par from there. A builder would determine ahead of time what outcome you're looking for. You don't just want the teacher to throw up grades online and then shut up. You want the teacher to have a comprehensive and a comprehensible grading and reporting process that actually serves kids. So once you've selected the outcome, then you're going to choose the best conversational approach to help you get to your outcome.
You want to make sure that by the end of the conversation, the teacher knows exactly what's expected and why and the teachers committed to addressing the issue. Then and only then do you sit down and have the conversation and when you do, you get to the root cause of the problem and you walk away from that conversation with a firm commitment from the teacher to address the issue. That's how you hold an accountability conversation like the builder you see for too long, our only options for holding teachers accountable had been either to write them up or to try to influence them to do what they should be doing, but not any more because today we're going to talk about four different conversations that you can have with teachers that will help them take ownership over their own practice and be more accountable for their own behavior. That's right.
Today, you are going to learn finally how to hold teachers accountable like a builder...
Now before I jump in, I want you to know that the information for today's episode is taken from my book The Instructional Leader’s Guide to Strategic Conversations with Teachers. Now in it I go into a lot of detail about these four conversations. I show you how to use them with different types of teachers and I provide frameworks that you can use to map out the conversations ahead of time and I also give you some troubleshooting tips just in case the teacher tries to take the conversation off the rail. Somewhere down the line. I'll show you how to get the conversation back on track. So if you like what you hear today and you want to go deeper than I recommend that you check out The Instructional Leader’s Guide to Strategic Conversations with Teachers and I'll make sure that I put a link to the book in the show notes.
OK, now let's dive in. I want to share with you four different conversations that you can have with the teacher to help that teacher take ownership and be accountable for their own practice. Now, why four conversations? Well, because the conversations you choose will depend on your goal for the conversation and it depends on the person with whom you're having the conversation. You know by now that there is no one size fits all solution for helping teachers become accountable. That's because we're dealing with human beings and human beings are different and what's more your human being and you bring to the table your own unique style, your own unique way of doing things, so there isn't one magic bullet. No, no special incantation that you can say over a teacher to get that teacher to do what they should be doing anyway, but even though there isn't a magic bullet, the four strategic conversations that I'm going to share with you today come awfully close.
That's because these four strategic conversations are targeted... individualized interactions with teachers
designed to help them take ownership over their own practice. They're designed to help them commit to improving and to be accountable to that commitment. These conversations really emphasize problem solving and accountability by giving teachers the responsibility of managing their own professional growth and solving their own challenges. You see what makes strategic conversations so very powerful is that rather than prescribing Juan approach to help us specific type of teacher, strategic conversations provide you with several different options for working with a teacher and then you can make a choice based on that teacher's needs, that teacher situation. And the outcome that you want the teacher to work towards, so instead of going in without a plan and and rambling along without any kind of clear outcome, and by the way potentially damaging your relationship with the teacher, you're going to carefully plan your approach ahead of time by thinking through your overall goals and the individual needs of the teacher. And then strategically selecting the best conversational approach.
Given all of that and speaking of conversational approaches, there are actually four different types of strategic conversations that you can have with the teacher to help that teacher become more accountable. And these four types are reflective conversations, facilitative conversations, coaching conversations and directive conversations. And when you choose the right conversation, the one that best matches both the teachers needs and your goals, you're going to be much more likely to move that teacher towards full accountability. So in this episode, I'm going to break down the four strategic conversation, will approaches and show you how to use each one. And I'm going to do that because even though we think we know how to have a reflective conversation or a coaching conversation or facilitative conversation, I guarantee you that the way that you were probably trained to have these conversations if did wrong. So we're going to fix all of that today.
And I've also got a really great Freebie for you this week.
It's a Strategic Conversation Map, and you can use this to choose the right conversation, will approach every single time you need to help a teacher become more accountable. So you can download the Freebie at School Leadership Reimagined dot com forward slash episode three, episode the word episode, and the number three, no space. OK.
The first conversation that we're going to talk about today is the reflective conversation.
Now, much has been made about the need for teachers to reflect and yet how much truer reflection is really going on and most of the conversations that we actually have with them, right? There's a reason for that. You see, the way that we were taught to foster reflection was to all these carefully contrived questions and use all these carefully scripted phrases in order to get teachers to reflect.
But here's the problem with that. When you do that, when you craft questions with an agenda, you control the conversation and as long as you control the conversation, it's hard to get the teacher to truly reflect and isn't that the goal of reflective conversations? We want the teacher to be the one reflecting. So the first thing we have to learn to do in a reflective conversation is we have to learn how to shut up and listen. I know that's harsh, but this one is to one of the hardest conversations to have because we want to rush in and we want to offer our own opinion. Or you want to steer the conversation in a particular direction, but the moment you do that, you shut off reflection because now the teacher is just trying to say or do whatever he or she needs to say or do in order to make you happy rather than being truly reflective.
So the goal of a reflective conversation is to help teachers learn from themselves. So this conversational approach is really about the teacher making inferences. It's about the teacher analyzing the effect of their past behavior on their current reality. It's about the teacher evaluating the appropriateness of new behaviors going forward or analyzing their past decision making. Then it's about getting that teacher reconnected to the larger school vision and choosing to make different decisions going forward. So your job, your only job is to provide a safe place where this kind of reflection can actually happen. You do that by not trying to control the conversation. Instead, you're going to ask reflective questions that help teachers examine their actions and think about their ideas and delve more deeply into their belief systems. You're going to use reflective listening and reflective summarizing to help teachers distance themselves from their actions and their ideas and their beliefs and long enough so that they can scrutinize them more objectively and then ultimately take more ownership.
In the end, the goal of a reflective conversation is for the teacher to have an Aha moment where they come to the conclusion themselves that they need to be more accountable. Your job is to midwife that moment and there are three skills that you can use to help you do that.
The first skill is reflective questioning.
OK, I'm just going to go ahead and I'm just going to say it. The way that most of us were trained to ask quote unquote, reflective questions is dead wrong. That's because most of the training tells us to craft questions with a specific agenda, so we ask questions like, I wonder about blah, blah, blah. When really we don't wonder about it at all or we ask questions that are really suggestions in disguise. When we do that, we are stifling true reflection because our questions are designed to serve our agenda rather than helping the teacher learn from him or herself will use them to control the conversation and try to get the teacher to see things the way that we want them to see them and come to the conclusion that we want them to come to.
Sorry folks, that's not reflection. Reflection is designed to help teachers learn from themselves. If you have an agenda for anything other than that, you do not need to be having a reflective conversation. Reflective questions are more open-ended. They're designed to help the teacher probe further. So here's an example of a reflective conversation. You would say something like, Hey, what do you think that? Or how do you know that? Or what else? Notice how none of them have agendas. They leave the next step completely to the teacher. The idea behind those questions, it's to push the teacher to clarify their thinking or examine their thinking more deeply. You're not putting new ideas and the teacher's head, you're simply using the questions to uncover the ideas that are all ready there. So that's questioning, that's the first skill.
The second skill for reflective conversation is paraphrasing...
and paraphrasing involves listening for key words or key ideas and then restating them to the teacher. When you do this, two things happen. First you let the teacher know that you're actually listening without an agenda and that helps the teacher open up even more. Second, when you help the teacher here, would he or she is saying? Then when people hear their ideas, restate it to them, it often sparks even deeper reflection as they elaborate on what they said. So that's the second skill, paraphrasing.
Now the third skill is summarizing at the end of the conversation.
It's really helpful to summarize the main points and discuss how what the teacher uncovered during the reflection will actually impact their behavior going forward. Here's where accountability comes in. As you wrap up the conversation, you can ask the teacher, now that you've realized x, what do you want to do about it? Or what will you do about it? The teacher that makes a commitment on their own freewill, and by doing so, they become even more accountable for what happens next. Your job going forward is to simply follow up and help the teachers stay accountable to the commitment that that teacher made during that reflective conversation.
Now, reflective conversations are not for everyone and if you have a low will teacher, a reflective conversation is usually not a good place to start. They work best with teachers who are already pretty accountable to some degree and just need some support in a particular area or they need to revive their accountability somehow. If you're going to get a teacher to make a commitment the first time, the facilitative conversation may actually serve you a little better.
Facilitative conversations are a great way to...
help get a teacher to commit to doing something or doing something differently. That's because they allow you to talk to teachers about their own data and then they mediate the teacher's assessment about what that data means and what he or she should be doing about it. You still remain mostly neutral, but this conversation allows you to take a more active approach than a reflective conversation, so it works really well with teachers who need a little more guidance. Now you start out a facilitative conversation by first establishing the goal or the outcome that you're hoping to achieve, so you may say something like, the reason I want to have this conversation today is that I want us to get to the root cause of why you're not posting your grades consistently and to figure out what we need to do to make that happen going forward. I want to be as supportive as I can and my goal is to find a solution that will work for us both, so see how collaborative that is.
Now, next you're going to raise the specific issue that you want to address. You want to talk about the issue from two different perspectives. The first perspective is the facts, and the second perspective is your interpretation of the facts. So first the facts. What are you seeing? What are you noticing? What does the data say? You want to state these facts as unemotionally as possible. This is what I'm saying, this is what the data says. That's as far as it goes. Now, once you've established the fact, the next step is to share your interpretation. I like to keep these separate because I don't want you to open up the door for argument, so the facts are the facts. Your interpretation is different from the facts and you want to make sure the teacher knows that they're separate, so instead of saying it seems like you don't want to post your grades.
You would say something like, our policy is that teachers post their grades at least once per week and that grades should be updated on the online portal every Friday at a minimum. Now you haven't posted grades for three weeks. That's the bad. OK, so you say that. Then once you've stated the facts, you can say, and when I see that, it makes me wonder why I even started to think fairly or not that you don't want to post the grades. Now, of course that's my interpretation, but I'll be honest. That's what I'm beginning to think, which is why I wanted to have this conversation so that I can stop interpreting and actually hear the truth from you.
Can you see how by separating the facts from your interpretation of the facts, you can be totally honest without inviting argument and without putting the teacher on the defensive because you stayed at the facts and then you totally own your interpretation of the facts and you give the teacher an opportunity to clear things up. The teacher might say, you're right, I don't. Or the teacher might say, no, no, no, that's not it, but either way you've started the conversation and you've put everything out there on the table next year and the teacher start probing to figure out what's the root cause of the issue. What's really going on here, and that's when you can look at the data if it's relevant, but this is also where you can really hear from the teacher what's going on with them, what obstacles they're facing that's keeping them from owning and being accountable for specific behavior.
Don't argue with the teacher here just listen as clarifying questions. Sure, but mostly your goal here is to simply hear them out and then once they're done, it's time for the solution. What can you do together to resolve the issue? What commitment is to teacher willing to make? You're looking for a clear commitment here. You might need to help the teacher by asking for a specific commitments, so you might say something like, I would like you to commit to posting your updated grades every Thursday by the end of the school day. That's very clear about what they want to do. They may hedge around for that, but keep bringing them back because you need that level of commitment and then you can talk about how you're going to support the teacher going forward and how you're going to follow up with the teacher to ensure that the teachers holding up his or her side of the commitment.
Now, the really cool thing about facilitative conversations is that you walk away with a clear commitment and a plan of action for going forward. Plus I find that these conversations allow both you and the teacher to be honest with each other about what's really going on and how you're both interpreting things. So you also walk away from the conversation with a lot more clarity going forward, but perhaps the biggest benefit I see from facilitative conversations is that they really help strengthen your relationship with the teacher.
I have rarely seen one of these conversations get hostile. In fact, I find that once you get things on the table, you tend to diffuse any tension that may be lurking underneath the surface. You just bring it all out in the open and the [inaudible] and the open. Then you can solve it when you do that. Most teachers are actually kind of relieved at the end of the conversation because they feel more willing to keep their commitments going forward because they've had a chance to hear how you felt. They had a chance to say how they feel. Everything's on the table. Everything's very transparent. So I really love facilitative conversations for that. So so far we've discussed coaching and facilitative conversations and those are great if you have a teacher who is high, well and just needs a little tune up or if you have a will problem and you're looking for a commitment, but they don't really work if you have a teacher who's not taking ownership or being accountable because they don't have the skills that they need to do.
So in that case you really need a coaching conversation.
A coaching conversation helps you not only help a teacher make a commitment, but you also help the teacher develop the skills that they need in order to keep that commitment going forward. So let's go back to our example at the beginning of the episode, the teacher who isn't posting your grades regularly while she might not be posting because she just doesn't feel like posting and she thinks it's a waste of time, that's a problem, but she might not be posting her grades because she hasn't given any greats in the last three weeks. So there's a deeper problem with our grading process that needs to be addressed now. That's a skill problem. When we have an obvious skill problem, we need a coaching conversation.
A coaching conversation requires you to take a more active role. You're still going to ask for a commitment, but you're also going to make specific recommendations and provide specific supports to help the teacher be more accountable to that commitment. So here's how the conversation goes.
First, you need to start the conversation by stating your positive intentions for the conversation. It's kind of like the facilitative conversation. So you'd say something like, the reason I asked to meet with you today is that I want us to get to the root cause of why you're not posting your grades consistently and to figure out what we need to do to make that happen. Going forward. I want to be as supportive as I can and my goal is to find a solution that will work for both of us and to give you the support that you need in order to make that commitment and keep that commitment going forward. So again, positive intentions at the very beginning to set the tone for the conversation.
Next you want to state the facts. Again, you want to separate the facts from your interpretation of the facts, so you might say something like, our policy is that every teacher is expected to post grades at least weekly. That means I should see updated grades by every Friday, but for the last three weeks you have not posted any new grades. When I asked you about it, you said it was because you didn't have any integrates to post. OK, so those are the facts. That's what you would start with.
Now you can share your interpretation. You can say that concerned me because I worried that without any feedback for three weeks, your students and their families don't know how they're doing, whether they're progressing towards the learning goals or whether they're falling behind and need extra support, and then you can go on to describe the impact of the behavior you're addressing. You might need to explain why it's important to post grades, why it's a problem that the teacher's not posting grades. The idea here is to help the teacher understand exactly why they need to address this issue.
Once you've had that discussion, bring it back to the point, you can say something like, so that's why I wanted to sit down today and take a look at your grading process and see how we can adjust it so that your students and their families are getting enough feedback. I don't want you to just throw up some grades to appease me. I want to make it meaningful for you and for your students. Now, notice how you're keeping the focus on the bigger outcome. That's important. You want to make sure that the teacher understands why you're asking them to be more accountable in this area. That way the teacher can actually take ownership.
OK, so the next step is for you to make recommendations on how the teacher can improve. Now be careful here. You don't want to take over the teachers practice and instead you want to help the teacher come up with something that works for them. You want the final decision to be there that way they own it. Once you've helped them figure out how they're going to move forward. The next thing is to talk about how you're going to provide support and how you're going to follow up with the teacher to make sure that they are accountable going forward.
Now, here's what makes this conversation works so well. You aren't just giving superficial tips. You're taking time to discover the root cause. First, only then will you start helping the teacher come up with solutions. That's what builders do. They spend the majority of the coaching conversation coming up with the right root cause, and then and only then do they start developing solutions. OK, we've covered the reflective conversation, the facilitative conversation, and the coaching conversation.
The last strategic conversation is the directive conversation.
I save this conversation for last because this conversation is the most I don't know, fraught and yet many leaders default to giving people directives first and they skip over the other options. This is a mistake for a couple of reasons. First, by defaulting to a directive conversation, you rob the teacher, have the opportunity to adjust and own their own behavior. You're assuming that the teacher doesn't want what's best for students and builders never make that assumption. We believe that teachers are trying to do the best they can and they actually care about students and it's our job to help them take their good intentions and channel them in the right direction. So there's a mindset shift here.
Second, by defaulting to a directive conversation every single time you're really killing your culture. This type of top down management breeds resentment and creates even more resistance. That's a boss move. It's not a builder move. Trust me, I know what I'm talking about.
When I first became an administrator, I was taught how to create a memorandum of understanding. That's where you give a teacher a directive and then you memorialize it in a memo that goes into the teacher's file. Well, all of a sudden I was using directives for everything and writing an MOU for everything, but don't laugh at me. I actually thought it was the only way to hold teachers accountable, but it quickly backfired. Teachers resented me. They'd freeze up every time I entered their rooms, and here's the thing.
My directors were often about things that they would have happily done if I had just asked them. So by issuing a directive, I was actually making them resent, doing something that they would've been happy to do. Anyway. I remember one teacher in particular who wasn't sticking to the curriculum and I called her in my office and I directed her to stick to the curriculum and then I handed her an MOU and she looked at it for a moment and she said, you could have just asked me. Well, in that moment I wish I could say that I responded calmly and logically, but I didn't.
I said, it's in the curriculum. I shouldn't have to ask. The fact that you aren't teaching the curriculum means that I have to step in. I shouldn't have to ask you to do your job. Well. Tear started to pull up in her eyes. I know that was harsh. She looked down and she whispered and she said, I thought I was doing the curriculum and at that moment my heart broke here was getting all offended that I should have to ask her to teach the curriculum. When that was her job and here she was sincerely thinking that she was actually doing her job. If only I talk to her first, I could've helped her. Instead, I ended up really harming the relationship. Well, my big mistake is your game because that day I learned a huge lesson and that's this. You don't lead with a directive conversation.
In most cases, a directive conversation is not going to be the first conversation that you have with your teachers. You need to try a reflective or facilitative or coaching conversation first. That's my mandate. You never lead with a directive conversation except for into exceptions. Exception number one is if the teacher is doing something that puts children in immediate danger, so if the teachers and kids in a closet or allowing kids, I don't know, to light things on fire without safety goggles or something that puts kids in immediate danger, you don't need to have a reflective conversation about why that's not appropriate. That needs to be handled right away, but in most cases, you don't need to start with a directive conversation. In fact, the only time I advise using directive conversations are again, if students are in immediate danger or the second exception is if teachers have ignored earlier commitments now, things get to that point than a directive conversation is warranted.
Now, if you're not an administrator...
you can't really have a direct conversation with the teacher. You can recommend that things have gotten to the point where the teacher needs to have a directive conversation and the administrator needs to be the one who does that, but if you're not the teacher supervisor, this conversational approach is really not available to you, but if you are the supervisor, then a directive conversation is a good way to get the teacher to make an immediate change in his or her behavior, and that's really the goal of the conversation. So directive conversations are pretty short. The conversation is designed to make it clear to the teacher what you want the teacher to stop doing and what you want the teacher to start doing. Instead, both are important. If I just tell the teacher to stop doing something, he or she may substitute the undesirable behavior with an equally undesirable behavior, so you need to make sure that you have a conversation and show them not just what they need to stop doing, but what they need to start doing instead.
The other thing to keep in mind is this, the director of conversation is the least interactive conversational approach. You determine the problem, you determined the solution and you determine the terms going forward. There aren't. There isn't a whole bunch of discussion about it, so keep that in mind as well because if you really want to keep the lines of communication over directive conversations are more of a one way conversation and not as much of a two way conversation, but if you got are at the point where you need to use a directive conversation and those points are very rare. Let me tell you, but when you get to that point, here's how it works and it's really very simple. First, you state your intention for the conversation. What's the outcome that you want? And usually it's an immediate change to current behavior, so you think about what do you want the teacher to stop doing and what you want the teacher to start doing instead.
Next, briefly explain your rationale. Why do you want the change? Again, you want to be really brief here. You're not trying to persuade the teacher. You simply want to put it on the record. After that, go ahead and check in with the teacher to make sure that they understand what you're asking them to do and see if they have any questions. Listen carefully acknowledged their concerns that they may have, but keep bringing the conversation back to the directive. What do you want them to stop doing and what do you want them to start doing instead? And then finally offer any support that you want to offer and explain how you're going to follow up and how you're going to monitor things going forward. And here's where you introduce your memorandum of understanding or your MOU. You'll explain that you're going to document the conversation in an MOU so that you can both be clear about what you've agreed upon.
From there, you send the MOU, you can even have the teachers sign it if you want. What [inaudible] does is it serves as a written agreement between you and the teacher and it's an accountability mechanism. If the teacher chooses not to abide by the agreement at some point I have an example of an MOU and a framework of an MOU in the instructional leaders. Got To strategic conversations and I'll link to that book at the end of this episode in the show notes. Now, this is really important. You always, always follow up a directive conversation with a memorandum of understanding always. Here's why. First, you need to make sure that everyone's on the same page as to what should happen next, so you need to get it in writing so that it's crystal clear what the teachers should stop doing and start doing instead. And second, you're creating a paper trail that emphasizes just how serious things have become.
But here's the important thing.
You cannot use the MOU as a hammer like I did. It's not a blunt instrument to make people do what you want them to do. That's a boss move and you're better than that. That's why after a directive conversation and after giving the teacher the MOU, I really like to follow up one to two days later with a reflective conversation about the directive conversation. Now I know that sounds Kinda Meta, but hear me out. I once worked for a principal who said that when you're working with other people, you're always either making a deposit or withdrawal from their emotional piggy bank. His advice was to always make sure that you're making more deposits than withdrawals. Well, a directed conversation is definitely a withdrawal, so you need to follow up, give the person a day or two to digest the seriousness of what happened and then follow up with a reflective conversation that gives them the opportunity to talk uninterrupted about the directive conversation and about how they feel about it.
Now, I'm not getting all touchy feely with you here. There's some method to my madness. The mistake we make when we're having direct conversations is that we issue the directive and then we never follow up. We just expect the behavior to change, but if you take the time to reflect with the teacher after the directive, you can strengthen the relationship, you can build trust, and you can reinforce the seriousness of what happened and keep the lines of communication open so that you have the greatest chance of actually having a real impact on that teacher's practice. Now, I'll be honest with you, you're not always going to feel like having a reflective conversation with the teacher to whom you've just issued a directive, but can I be blunt here? Get over yourself. You're a builder. Remember, builders don't let their personal feelings get in the way of their vision.
They're going to be some times when you just don't feel like following up with the teacher after giving that teacher directive. I'm telling you, do it anyway and I hear the yes buts floating out there right now. Perhaps you're wondering, yes, but what did the teacher refuses to reflect? Try Anyway. Acknowledged the sting of the directive upfront. Give the teacher the opportunity to vent without interrupting. Listen sincerely, even if they're just making excuses, reflect their comments so that they know that you've heard them, and then remind them of your positive intentions for them and your vision for the school and that's it. You're directive still stands, you don't change that, but what you have done is you've re open the lines of communication. You've reinforced your commitment to your teacher and you've re emphasize your vision. You do that and you might get an opportunity to reconnect the teacher to the vision as well.
Remember, reflective conversations have no agenda other than helping the teacher make a connection between their behavior and the results they're getting. So when you follow up the directive conversation with the reflective conversation, keep that in mind. Go in without an agenda other than reconnecting with the teacher. Don't get attached to any other outcome. Now, this a tough conversation, but it's a necessary one, and yet I promise you, if you handled it correctly, you can make even a directive conversation and amazing experience for both you and the teacher, especially if you handle it like a builder. So let's recap. There are four types of conversations that you can use to help teachers take ownership over their own behavior and help them be more accountable for their commitments. If you want teachers to make a connection between their behavior and its effect on students, the school community or themselves or other people, then you want to use a reflective conversation.
If you want teachers to make a commitment to take a different course of action than a facilitative conversation will work best. If you want teachers to make a correction to their practice. A coaching conversation is what you need and if you want teachers to make an immediate change because students are either indirectly injure or because they have not been keeping their past commitments than a directive conversation is what you want to use. Now, before I go...
I want to give you a few important caveats for using strategic conversations.
Caveat number one, it may take more than one conversation in order to actually reach your goals. Each conversational approach has a specific goal. Either it's to help teachers make a connection, a commitment, a correction, or an immediate change the conversation. It's not finished until you've achieved that goal, so it may means you need more than one conversation in order to get you there. That's OK.
Caveat number two. There are times when you're going to need to shift from one conversation to another. In the middle of the conversation. For instance, you might start out with a reflective conversation and then as a part of that reflection, the teacher suddenly realizes that the reason they haven't been doing something is that they really don't know how to do it well. At that point, you want to shift from a reflective conversation to a coaching conversation so that you can help them acquire that skill. So the idea here is to be really flexible. It's good to have all four conversation will approaches in your repertoire of skills so that you can seamlessly move between them in order to meet teachers where they are and in order to get the best possible outcome.
Now, caveat number three, and this one's important, no judgment. These conversations will break down very quickly. If you any point you start judging the teacher and speaking of judgment, that's a topic of next week's episode. I mean, have you ever looked at a teacher and thought, this teacher just doesn't care, or this teacher is downright lazy? While if you have you fallen into the judgment trap. Now, don't worry, we all fall into the judgment trap some sometime or another. It's human nature, but here's the thing. As long as you were in the judgment trap, you will not be able to move that teacher.
So next week...
I'm going to show you a sure-fire easy way to quickly get yourself out of the judgment trap so that you can have more impact on a teacher and get that teacher moving in the right direction. I wrote about this a little bit last year and it happened to be one of our top five most popular blogs for 2017. While I've learned a thing or two since then, and next week I'm going to go even deeper and how you can get yourself out of judgment quickly so that you can have more impact on any teacher you lead.
So if you're frustrated because you feel like the teachers just being lazy or teachers being belligerent or any of those things that we say in our head, I want you to listen next week because I'm going to tell you how you can get out of that so you can get moving and get that teacher moving towards your vision.
Now, before we go, don't forget to download today's Freebie, which is a summary of each of the four types of conversations that we discussed on this episode and when you should use each one, you can download the Freebie at School Leadership Reimagined, [inaudible] slash episode three, or by texting the word episode, and then number three, no space to the number of three, three, four, four, four.
Again, School Leadership Reimagined dot com forward slash episode three. Or You can text the word episode and the number three to three, three, four, four, four. And if you want to go deeper into learning how to use these conversations with teachers and get the actual conversational frameworks, don't forget to check out my book, The Instructional Leader’s Guide to Strategic Conversations with Teachers. I'll put a link to it in the show notes. That's it for today. I will talk to you next time and I can't wait. We're going to get ourselves out of the judgment trap. I'll talk to you then.
Thank you for listening to the School Leadership Reimagined podcast for show notes and free downloads visit https://schoolleadershipreimagined.com/
School Leadership Reimagined is brought to you by Mindsteps Inc, where we build a master teachers.