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The Principal as Leader of Challenging Conversations

The Principal as Leader of Challenging Conversations

September 2012 | 160 pages | Corwin

Published in Association with Ontario Principals' Council

Direct difficult discussions toward successful outcomes every time!

For every headteacher who has ever wished for a quick reference guide to keeping challenging conversations on course, the ideal tool is here! Inside are all the skills you need for navigating high-stakes interactions with staff, parents, students, and district leaders and steering them toward win-win solutions. Case studies throughout the book identify the risk areas and provide the steps to mastering techniques for:

- Active listening

- Assertive communication

- Providing effective feedback

- Staying calm

- Problem solving

- Mediation.

Also included are scripts, sample dialogues, style inventories, checklists, and resources for practicing skills learned from the case studies. Like having a communications coach in your back pocket, this guide gives tips for building a collaborative culture focused on what matters most—working together to achieve student success.

The Goal- Meeting the Challenge  
Organization of the Book and Special Features  
Who Will Benefit?  
1. Introduction – Dimensions of Challenging Conversations
What is a Challenging Conversation?  
Chat, Challenge and Crisis  
Challenging Conversations - Sources of Challenge  
Factors That Determine a Challenging Conversation  
Crisis or Challenge  
You, Your Community and Challenging Conversations  
Challenging Conversations - Core Concepts  
Power and Influence  
Why Have Challenging Conversations – Some Good Reasons to Talk  
Why We Avoid Challenging Conversations  
Challenging Conversations and a Collaborative School Culture  
Book Study Questions  
Case Study Practice – The Principal and the Bully  
Your Personal Case Study  
2. Engaging in Challenging Conversations
A Framework for Conversations That Matter  
Engaging in Challenging Conversations – Principles  
Engaging in Challenging Conversations - The Critical Path  
Book Study Questions  
Case Study Practice – Cleaning Up  
Your Personal Case Study – First Reflection  
3. Listening for Meaning
Why Should We Listen? The Case for Active Listening  
Active Listening  
Non-Verbal Communication  
Book Study Questions  
Case Study Practice  
Your Personal Case Study – Second Reflection  
4. Providing Effective Feedback
Elements of Effective Feedback  
Barriers to Providing Effective Feedback  
Book Study Questions  
Case Study Practice  
Your Personal Case Study – Third Reflection  
5. Being Assertive
“Be hard on the problem, soft on the people”  
Being Assertive- Techniques  
Book Study Questions  
Case Study Practice  
Your Personal Case Study – Fourth Reflection  
6. Managing Anger: Yours and Theirs
What Bugs Me? - Different Things Bother Different People Differently at Different Times  
Some Approaches to Anger  
Book Study Questions  
Case Study Practice  
Your Personal Case Study – Fifth Reflection  
7. How Do You Respond to Challenging Conversations?
Your Conversational/Conflict Style – Who are You?  
Conversational Strategies – Choices that We Can Make  
Factors that Affect Strategy Choice  
Book Study Questions  
Case Study Practice  
Your Personal Case Study – Final Reflection  
8. The School Leader as Mediator - Facilitating the Conversations of Others
Why Get Involved?  
The Mediation Process – Facilitating Conversations  
The Opening Phase  
Resolution Phase  
Closing Phase  
The Promise of Mediation  
Book Study Questions  
Case Study Practice  
Summary – Key Concepts to Remember
References and Suggested Readings

"The last thing a principal needs is more stress! The contents of this book will help build skills that will ensure that challenging conversations go the way they should—toward resolution and peace."

Beth Madison, Principal
George Middle School, Portland, Oregon

"This work will contribute to future administrators' success as they learn effective communication strategies for handling daily challenges and difficult situations."

Catherine Alaimo Stickney, Curriculum Coordinator
Ashland Public Schools, MA

Sample Materials & Chapters



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Ontario Principals' Council

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ISBN: 9781412981156

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