Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Practice of Conversation Responses

This article introduces six basic principles that help foster deep, meaningful conversation. How will you use this information when initiating conversations with your students? How will you use them to encourage positive interactions amongst students in your classroom?


  1. It is very important to establish communication with students early on in the school year. Some teachers may think that they are doing this because they are clear about their rules and expectations. This is important, however, not all that goes into communication is talking, listening is an essential component that can be forgotten. Students need to feel that they have a voice and a safe place to be heard. And, kids are not idiots, they don't need to hear from you that you will listen to them, they need to see you actually listen to them. Being explicit must extend further than rules and consequences, content and outcomes. We are educators, but we are human beings as well, and we must create an environment for our students that model what effective communication looks like and sounds like.

  2. I really liked the way this article laid out the principles and then went into more depth about each of them. This led to me having a better understanding about the topics and ways in which I can help initiate conversations with my students and encourage conversations between my students.

    In terms of initiating conversations with my students, what drew my attention the most was the listening aspect of the conversation. Listening in a conversation is something I can personally improve upon. In working with children, especially young children, often times you will find that they all have something to say about the topic at hand, and through my observations and experiences I’ve found that not every student is heard, and it should not be that way. In my classroom I want to create a safe space for my students to speak and express themselves and their thoughts. If the comments run over the time of the lesson for example, then it would help for me to validate their ideas by telling them there will be more time later to share, so that they feel there will be a time for them to be heard. However, it is important that I remember to readdress them, so they can communicate their thoughts to me and feel validated. In addition to this listening to my students, and not “talking at them,” is going to be a top priority of mine, because this makes students feel safe and comfortable, and lets them know you care about what they are talking about or trying to share. After initiating a conversation with a student, listening to their responses are a key to building a better relationship with them and getting to know them in more depth. Although they are children they do know how to express themselves and listening to them validates what they are saying and lets them know you respect their unique opinions and you care for them and what they are sharing with you.

    In order to encourage positive interactions among students in my classroom, I will use the principles to remind my students that our classroom environment is safe and they can feel comfortable to share with their peers. Furthermore, I will remind students that listening to one another is a key component to building a healthy relationship and conducting a good, in depth conversation. Also I will make sure to let them know, and help them practice, the idea that communication is not only the act of talking but that listening is a vital factor as well. So in order to show respect to their peers that sharing ideas, they need to be good listeners, and in turn they too will be listened to by their peers.

    Another part of the article that stood out to me was the mention of the fact that conversation helps us “rediscover a sense of unity,” and how “wise we can be together.” In addition to this I liked the statement about the fact that through conversation we are brought back to the idea that we are all human beings, and we all need each other. Through these ideas about conversation I can help unite my students and lead them to see that we are all part of a bigger picture. We work better together, especially when we listen to one another and create a safe space to open up to each other; as well as the fact that we are all human and deserve the same treatment from one another.

  3. As a teacher it is crucial to implant a positive conversation line with your students and you can do so by teaching your students how to engage in meaningful conversation by giving them good examples of significant conversation as well as teaching them how to engage in meaningful conversation amongst each other. It is important to emphasize that we are all equals and that everyone has something to offer in conversation and that we can learn from one another even if we do not always agree with what one another is saying. As a teacher it is also vital to tell our students about the importance of truly listening to one another and that we can learn a lot just by listening to what others have to say. I want to teach my students that they can become better students and humans of our society by stopping and reflecting about what we are listening to during and after a conversation and to see what positive things we can take from the conversations that we engage in. Good conversation takes practice; as an educator I want to give my students a chance to learn how to engage in meaningful conversation and give them opportunities to practice engaging in good conversation amongst each other.

  4. I hope to teach my students the value of meaningful conversation and the impact it has on our daily lives. The six principles are a great reminder of what helps to create meaningful conversation. The concept of remaining curious about each other as we engage in conversation is such an important lesson we can help teach our students and practice as teachers. To be curious about our students as we are just getting to know them and initiate those first conversations is so important in creating a positive relationship with them. Curiosity about our students and their families, interests, goals etc. helps to form a symbiotic relationship where teachers are learning from their students as students are learning from their teacher. Within the classroom I hope to create a space where students feel safe and comfortable to engage in conversation in a cooperative learning environment. The principles behind a meaningful conversation (listening, making time, treating each other as equals, etc.) are something that should be taught and also practiced in order to build positive interactions amongst students. Students should practice utilizing these principles and building upon their conversation skills in order to initiate their own conversations with respect and humility.