"Having Hard Conversations" by Jennifer Abrams

"Having Hard Conversations" by Jennifer Abrams

By Ryan Christopoulos

            If you are new to a school, team, coaching role, or administrative position, this is a must-read. Jennifer Abrams methodically identifies many of the common challenging situations educators find themselves in when working with colleagues and provides succinct and easy steps that anyone can take in order to resolve those conflicts. We educators all face challenges when working with colleagues, and if you are in the profession long enough, chances are you are going to be faced with a difficult conversation. Abrams covers them all, including conversations with parents, colleagues, administrators, supervisors, coaches, and coachees. This book would be a valuable tool for anyone in education.

            The book is structured to be a tool for framing and crafting difficult conversations. Readers will begin by working to identify the challenging situations they face through a variety of common problems presented in short vignettes. They will then be led through a series of chapters discussing why conversations addressing these challenges are important and ultimately questioning whether the issues at hand are having an adverse effect on students. Finally, Abrams gives guidance on structuring and executing these conversations. While one might perceive Abrams's method to be rigid, I felt it to be both insightful and approachable. I didn’t feel that Abrams was pretentious in her discussions, but was coming from a position of experience and tried-and-true methodology. At just under 100 pages, this easy read should only help teachers navigate the cooperative landscape of education.

            As teachers we know that our landscape is ever-changing. Collaboration and teaming with PLCs is becoming status quo more and more in schools today. While these procedures have the opportunity to move education in a much grander direction, they do not come without their challenges. Humans are naturally social creatures, but we would be naive not to acknowledge the occasional altercation that occurs during our vocational time. As educators, and more importantly as humans, we must be prepared when these challenges arise. This book would not only serve as a wonderful resource for all of us in education, but would also be an invaluable guide to teacher leaders who strive to develop rapport, honesty, and trust with the educators they work with.


            As someone actively interested in a teacher leadership role, I can see myself utilizing this text when I am faced with challenging conversations. Abrams identifies such a variety of challenging situations that most educators would be able to reference this book again and again over the course of their careers. Abrams also does a wonderful job of leading the reader through navigating each of these situations. In my future career goals, I know that a resource like this one will help me to address these situations head-on and to build strong and open relationships with my colleagues.

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