Leading Classroom Discussion on Difficult Topics
A resource on intentional strategies to help students deal with difficult subjects and how professors can prepare for facilitating difficult conversations.
Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
A summary of Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen (1999), Difficult conversations: how to discuss what matters most. They provide a step-by-step approach to having difficult conversations that includes:
- Deciphering the underlying structure of every difficult conversation
- Starting a conversation without defensiveness
- Listening for the meaning of what is not said
- Staying balanced in the face of attacks and accusations
- Moving from emotion to productive problem solving
Conversations That Matter
How to structure the class to encourage conversations that matter
Post-Election Suggestions for College Administrators
The recently passed election season has evoked a wide range of emotions and for many, has been a source of significant stress, anxiety and even fear. We have seen reports of hostile and aggressive speech and behavior on some campuses. Many young people are confused and upset about the campaign and election. With this in mind, we’d like to share some brief suggestions for college administrators, faculty and staff to consider for the coming days:
Keep clear boundaries between political discourse and emotional distress:
Students who are distraught, anxious or angry should not necessarily be directed to the mental health system on campus. We should acknowledge that strong reactions to real events are a valid element of discourse and debate and should not be pathologized. Instead, there should be settings in which the political situation can be safely discussed on campus, distinct from the counseling system.
It is essential to reinforce safe and sensible boundaries for discourse and protest:
Campus leadership should make clear what opportunities are available for debate and activism on campus and remind students of the acceptable limits of protest and behavior.
It is helpful for students to hear from campus leadership in times of stress/distress:
Regular, supportive communication from the university president, provost, dean of students or other upper administration will both reassure students that leadership is aware and engaged in campus reactions and concerns, and will also help to reinforce appropriate limits to behavior (if students feel heard and attended to they are also less likely to feel a need to act in dangerously dramatic ways). See an example below.
Make sure students are aware of campus mental health and peer emotional support services for those who are experiencing distress to the extent that they are having trouble functioning or may be at risk.
Please feel free to share and use this piece JED posted November 9, 2016.