“Words are like eggs: When they are hatched, they have wings.”
A while back now I was given a copy of Chapter 5: Patterns of Talk from Small Steps, Big Changes by Chris Confer & Marco Ramirez. At the time I briefly looked at it but didn’t read it with intent…until this past weekend. I was going through documents and my “you should read this” pile and came across the copy and thought I would give it a shot. Instantly this document resonated with me as an educational leader, parent, teacher and human.
The subtitle of the book is Eight Essential Practices for Transforming Schools Through Mathematics. This is an exceptional book for looking at mathematics instruction and coaching, but beyond that it provides significant insight into the culture of schools and conversations between educators. Chapter 5 is titled Patterns of Talk and moves between the two worlds of math and interpersonal communication seamlessly, but it’s the interpersonal components that impacted me the most.
The book and the chapter are worth a read for sure…consider these takeaways as you think about your day and the conversations you have (these are just snippets from the chapter):
- Recognize the power of conversation and words in schools…then become conscious of our own patterns of talk
- Pay close attention to conversations…what is it about some that are energizing and others that are frustrating?
- Just as you are looking for patterns of talk in the classroom, consider the patterns of talk between adults (ping-pong pattern?)
- How can you really listen and seek to understand other’s perspectives? Do you ask for clarification or do you tend to rebut with your point of view?
- Think of the teachers that you admire…you’ll find that these people often have one characteristic in common….being present in the moment
- Assume the best
- There is no “they” – this is one of my favorite parts of this piece!
- Be aware of “downward-spiraling talk” where venting moves into venting without focus on actions
- Are you asking the hard questions?
- Are you ending meetings with three steps(p. 84):
- summarize by sharing the most important insights
- clearly articulate next steps
- create a “by when” statement
- Don’t take yourselves too seriously!