Curriculum Directors Newsletter

March 2016

Having Hard Conversations

"Nothing important comes with instructions." ---James Richardson

In the book, Hard Conversations Unpacked by Jennifer Abrams, she asks the question..."Is this actually a clarifying conversation or a hard conversation?" She explains that one of her favorite quotes is from Blaine Lee. He says, "Almost all conflict is the result of violated expectations." She states that, "The question I always ask is, does the other person know the expectations? If so, then, it is likely a hard conversation. If not, a clarifying conversation is needed first." She goes on to say that, "So often we think we have been clear, but did we actually make it clear."

Where Does a Hard Conversation Fall?

Cease and Desist-----Hard Conversation---Clarifying Conversation---Coaching

A Hard Conversation takes places after standards and expectations are understood by all parties.

Describes impact of current behavior and possible future behaviors if it continues.

"You're not disappointed in what it is. You're disappointed in what you thought it would be."

How Do I Plan for a Hard Conversation?

Jennifer Abrams shares an Outcome Map in her book:

Asking and Answering these questions helps you to plan for the conversation...

  1. What is the problem? (Mary added--what is the impact of that behavior on students, learning, other staff, and/or school)
  2. What do you want to see instead?
  3. What does it look like/sound like?
  4. Why might the person not be doing the behaviors?
  5. What supports might you offer?
  6. What supports do you need?
  7. What are outcomes, if the problem continues? (Mary added this one)

What are the Parts to a Hard Conversation?

1. Setting the tone
  • Offer a reassuring statement regarding the meeting.
  • "We have worked together for over 7 years, and...."

2. Naming the Issue

  • Communicate in professional and observable words
  • "I have observed your class twice this week and want to talk about the engagement of your English learners."

3. Giving Specific Examples

  • Give 2 or 3 current examples that are factual.
  • "The four English learners I watched in class over two 45-minute periods didn't speak to other students or raise their hands..."

4. Clarifying the Impact

  • What are the consequences of their actions?
  • "When any of our students aren't asked to engage in speaking activities it limits their opportunities to learn..."

5. Making a Request for Action

  • What needs to happen next? What is a must?
  • "You know the students well and I respect your choices of activities. If that means additional supports or adjustments need to be modified then you need to create those and include those in your instruction."

6. Indicating a Request to Dialogue

  • Conclude with giving them a chance to dialogue
  • "After hearing this, what is your understanding?"
  • "Eventhough this is a non-negotiable, there are many ways to implement it. What are you thinking is a good next step?"

Make it short and respectful.

Thank them for their interest in student success.

Share information about next steps or timelines or follow up.

Spring 2016-Testing Schedule Update

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March is Reading Month!

MDE is posting sample MeL resources and lessons for various grade levels.

5 Ways High-Quality Literacy Instruction Can Increase Student Interest

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School Improvement Key Dates to Remember:


School Improvement Plan (SIP)

DUE September 1


District System Review (DSR) OR District Interim Self Assessment or Self Assessment

DUE April 22

Assessment Links and Updates

Preparing for M-Step

Get practice items here.


MDE Link to all Things M-STEP

All MME Information

Here is a checklist to keep you up-to-date on test-ready tasks.

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Click on the link below to access all issues of the Spotlight Newsletter.

K-2 Early Literacy and Mathematics Assessment

The GISD Elementary ELA Leadership team participated in a Webinar March 17 with MDE staff. Here are their notes on the testing details.

Professional Learning at GISD

Sneak Peek! Tentative 2016-2017 Offerings

Click HERE to access our working document of GISD professional learning opportunities for the 2016-2017 school year. Please let us know if there is a topic or presenter that you would like to see in Genesee County.

Online Opportunities

Check out EduPaths

Science PL for Administrators

PL@N A-1: Learn how to support a vision of instruction that is aligned with A Framework for K12 Science Education and the NGSS through the lens of your evaluation tool. - May 16.

PL@N A-2: Develop comprehensive multi-year plans for supporting the transition to Framework aligned instruction. *Prerequisite: must have completed A-1. - June 6.

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