Monday, January 24, 2011

Dialogue or Discussion - What's fit for purpose?

It feels refreshing to post my first blog for 2011 on a strategy that has certainly helped our staff make some important decisions in the last few days. I hope I acknowledge the source correctly - Joan Dalton talks about being clear about flagging the type of conversation you intent to have. A dialogue is used when surfacing everyones ideas and are wanting to have an open conversation around a topic,problem or decision to be made. A discussion is about arriving at a decision.
An example of how we have flagged whether we were entering into a dialogue or discussion last week was when we attempted to collectively agree on what the dispositions would be under the School vision principle of 'Building Learning Capacity'. We began by using open ended questions to surface individuals ideas around what makes a good learner? We started the conversation by saying that this was a dialogue and that it would continue over the next few days before making a decision on the dispositions for Stonefields School. Today we flagged that the conversation had transformed into a discussion as it was decision time.
A helpful strategy as we continue to move forward in ensuring the conversations we need to have, have the airtime they require and deserve.
I think this could be used just as well with our students.