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Having Hard Conversations


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Table of Contents

Foreword by Arthur L. Costa Preface Acknowledgments About the Author 1. What Are Hard Conversations and Why Should We Have Them? 2. Why We Hesitate Having Hard Conversations 3. Questions to Ask Yourself Before Having the Hard Conversation 4. What's the Real Problem?: Finding the Professional Language to Name It 5. Making a Plan 6. Scripting Your Initial Comments 7. The Whats, Wheres, and Whens of Having the Hard Conversation 8. What Ifs? Other Types of Hard Conversations 9. Conclusion Appendix A. Extended List of Professional Behaviors Appendix B. School Savvy Etiquette Appendix C. Sample Scripts for Hard Conversations References Index

About the Author

Consulting DescriptionJennifer Abrams is an international educational and communications consultant for public and private schools, hospitals, universities and non-profits. She trains and coaches teachers, administrators, nurses, hospital personnel and others on successful instructional practices, new employee support, supervision and evaluation, generational savvy, having hard conversations and effective collaboration skills. In Palo Alto USD (Palo Alto, CA), Abrams led professional development sessions and provided new teacher and supervisor trainings at both the elementary and secondary level. From 2000-2011, she was lead coach for the Palo Alto-Mountain View-Los Altos-Saratoga-Los Gatos Consortium's Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment Program. In her educational consulting work, she has presented at annual conferences such as Learning Forward, ASCD, NASSP, and the New Teacher Center Annual Symposium, as well as at the Teachers' and Principals' Centers for International School Leadership. Her communications consulting in the health care sector includes training and coaching work at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula and Stanford Hospitals. Her publications include Having Hard Conversations, published by Corwin Press in 2009, the chapter "Habits of Mind for the School Savvy Leader" in Art Costa's and Bena Kallick's book Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind: 16 Essential Characteristics for Success, and contributions to the book Mentors in the Making: Developing New Leaders for New Teachers published by Teachers College Press. Her most recent book with co-author Valerie Von Frank, Generational Savvy: How to be Effective with Educators of All Generations, was published by Corwin Press in 2013. She considers herself a "voice coach," helping others learn how to best use their voices, be it in a group, in front of a classroom, coaching a colleague, in a supervisory role and most recently in writing for the stage, as she does as a Board Member of the National New Play Network. Abrams holds a Master's degree in Education from Stanford University and a Bachelor's degree in English from Tufts University. Watch clips of Abrams' interview with NPR's Claudio Sanchez, from the ASCD Master Class Leadership Series


"Our teaching culture is adverse to conflict. Having tools like this will move education forward as a profession." -- Michael Grinder, National Director and Educational Consultant
"A thoughtful and practical map for authentically engaging in and learning from having hard conversations. Abrams gently teaches us why having these conversations matter and how they can help us grow. Her work shines light on the landscape of personal and professional learning from engagement in hard conversations." -- Eleanor Drago-Severson, Associate Professor of Educational Leadership
"A wonderful combination of coaching, consulting, and crafting a way of teaching us all to speak honestly in our relationships. From casual conversations to value conflicts, we learn to use and become sensitive to differences in gender, style, and position in this very appealing and important book. A must-read for teachers, principals, and district office personnel who care about developing a healthy school community." -- Ann Lieberman, Senior Scholar
"This book has already changed my life. Just by reading it, my courage to have hard conversations has soared." -- Beth Madison, Principal
"A straightforward, practical and useful guide for engaging in difficult conversations." -- Lauren Levin

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