Turning Your District Into A Dojo

Knowledge upon which you cannot take action is barely worth having at all.
— Chris Argyris

Workshop Description

This workshop is an indispensable follow-up to the initial Conversational Capacity for Educational Professionals Workshop.* Our goal is to provide highly actionable learning – concepts and skills you build and apply. In the first workshop we outline the basic discipline. In this session we show you how to build your personal and collective discipline by turning your district or school into a place of practice. To explain why this matters, here is an excerpts from the book, Conversational Capacity:

When it comes to skill, it’s not what we know that counts, but what we can put into practice. It’s not uncommon for someone to say, “I know that to be more effective I must balance my win tendency with higher curiosity and humility,” and yet five minutes later they’re berating a colleague who dared to disagree with them. So, if we want to build our conversational capacity, how do we move beyond mere awareness toward real competence?

The answer: It takes practice. And when it comes to practice, there’s good news – the workplace provides a rich source of opportunities. Chock-full of decisions, difficult people, contrasting perspectives, relentless change, and time-pressured goals, the workplace is the ultimate dojo for building our conversational capacity. Viewed this way, our daily work experience is transformed into a vehicle for building our discipline, with every decision and meeting a chance for experimentation and learning. Things we previously considered merely bothersome – a stressful project, difficult colleague, demanding boss, or dysfunctional meeting – become useful opportunities to practice and learn.

To help the learning stick, we help participants create a customized learning-plan that helps them identify areas of practice at the individual, school, and district level:

  • A Personal Plan – “What is the work I need to do to build my conversational capacity in an ongoing way?” A disciplined team is created by disciplined team members. We have no hope of helping our team communicate in the sweet spot if we lack the capacity to stay there ourselves.
  • A District or School Plan – “What is the work we can do to build our collective conversational capacity in an ongoing way? By treating dialogue as a discipline, a team can breathe new life into every aspect of its work, from running meetings, making decisions, managing people, and solving problems, to implementing strategy, providing and receiving feedback, and orchestrating change. Developing this mindful approach is not an activity separate from working, managing, and leading; it’s an integral part of it. A team best acquires these skills as it applies them to its regular activities.

Learning objectives:

The ability to converse in the sweet spot under pressure is a discipline. It takes practice to build. This workshop takes what you learned in the first session and helps you build a sustainable set of practices that will help you build your personal and collective conversational capacity and bake it into your district or school culture. Participants will learn to

  • Strengthen their personal conversational capacity in a rigorous and consistent way.
  • Build the collective conversational capacity of the school or district.
  • And by combining both personal and collective progress, create a virtuous cycle of practice and performance.

* This workshop can be a follow-up, or it can be combined with the CC for Educational Professionals Workshop into one longer workshop.

Prerequisite: Conversational Capacity for Educational Professionals.

Length: Customized to fit your training schedule

Randy Weber

Randy Weber

Randy Weber has worked with Conversational Capacity concepts and skills for over two decades. With a BA in History from UC Berkeley and a MA in Education from USC, Randy’s primary research and practice has focused on teaching elementary school children the basics of Conversational Capacity. Based on this work, Randy and Craig are co-authoring a new book, tentatively titled Conversational Capacity in the Classroom, to help educators apply the discipline to their demanding work environment.