Mastering the art of crucial conversations

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Mastering the art of crucial conversations

Leadership skills

A 75 minute Professional Learning Conversation for KDSL Aspiring and Current School Leaders

3 minutes

Mention time limit for this session which is 90 minutes in addition to introducing myself and my work history; inclusive of JTNConsultants.


Mastering the art of Uncomfortable crucial conversations

Presented by: John and Tisha Nguyen

JTN Education Consultants



Working together as a team is critical to drive and deliver ambitious student achievements results. Teamwork can be complex, and require the art and skill of mastering key communication practices. Planning, implementation and execution of crucial or difficult conversations is a necessary skill for leaders to be effective and productive. It is a pillar, that when leveraged appropriately can change the paradigm of the organization, as well as the trajectory of employees.


Created by two educators who started teaching middle school science 2 doors down from each other in 2000.

These founders went on to hold the following roles in various school districts and non-profits throughout the Houston, Texas; Rio Grande Valley, Texas Texas Mexican Border; Birmingham, Alabama; and Boston, Massachusetts areas: Classroom Teacher, Instructional Specialist, Alternative Certification Officer, Principal, Secondary Science Manager, Director, Chief Academic Officer, and Vice President.

Thus far, JTN has provided consulting services to the following companies and countries: Microsoft, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Shlitterhahn Water Parks, Boston Public Schools, Social Good Inc., Liberia, Africa, United Emirates, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Thompson Island- Boston Harbor Islands, Columbia, Chile, Spain, Denver, Colorado.


Session Goals and Agenda:

By the end of this session, participants will have:

Explored the uses of Uncomfortable Conversations (5 minutes)

Taken a deep dive into an Uncomfortable Conversation framework (25 minutes)

Practiced an Uncomfortable Conversation

Received feedback on their Uncomfortable Conversation

(40 minutes)


Mastering crucial conversationsNorms

Confidentiality is key

Reserve the right to change your mind

Commit to replicating practice

Stay engaged

Be open minded and consider the perspectives of others


Mastering crucial conversationsUses of Uncomfortable conversations

Name some benefits of having an Uncomfortable Conversation

Name some pitfalls related to having an Uncomfortable Conversation

When is the best time to have an Uncomfortable Conversation?

Who should you have an Uncomfortable Conversations with?

What factors determine if an Uncomfortable Conversation is needed?

How do you know if an Uncomfortable Conversation was successful?

5 minutes


Mastering crucial conversationsAdapted conversation framework

Sounding Board Mechanism (within 24-48 hours)

Double check alignment to desired outcome ( 1 or 2 days after)

Facts versus Fiction Test ( 24 hours after)

Preparation (1 to 2 days after)

Meeting ( 2-3 days after)


Wonderings, Feelings, and Impressions


Listen (Restate/Paraphrase if needed)

Solutions, Agreements and Next Steps

Follow-up (2-5 days after)


Mastering crucial conversationsAdapted conversation Framework model

Read Model Scenario

Listen Attentively for adherence to the Framework

Take 1-3 minutes to record feedback

Whole group debrief

What worked well?

What would you have done differently?

What resonated most with you and why?


Mastering crucial conversationsAdapted conversation Framework Practice

Reflect on a situation whereby you need to have an uncomfortable conversation.

Decide who will be:

sharing first, second, and third

giving feedback first, second, and third

Observing first, second, third

Observer access the Observation checklist

Follow the Role Play Directions


Mastering crucial conversationswhole group debrief

What worked well?

What would you do differently?

What resonated with you most?


Mastering crucial conversationsaction planning

Complete Action Planning template

Make a critical friend to hold you accountable

Exchange contact information

Remember to follow-up


Session Goals Revisited:

By the end of this session, participants will have:

Explored the uses of Uncomfortable Conversations (5 minutes)

Taken a deep dive into an Uncomfortable Conversation framework (25 minutes)

Practiced an Uncomfortable Conversation

Received feedback on their Uncomfortable Conversation

(40 minutes)


Mastering crucial conversationsEvaluation sheet

Please complete the Evaluation Sheet, and give it to one of the presenters on your way out.


Presenters: John and Tisha

Before startingour Education Consulting Firm, I was Vice President of Expanded Learning for Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center. Prior to that, I was Chief Academic Officer for the Birmingham City Schools where I had primary authority and accountability for the academic performance of all schools.

Earlier in my career I held roles such as Manager of Secondary Science Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment for the Houston Independent School District, and Director of Professional Development for IDEA Public Schools.

I have also been a science teacher at both the university and middle school level and has also served as a school leader and administrator. I am a graduate of Texas Southern University with a Bachelor of Science degree and Master of Educational Administration.

As a lifelong learner, I have also taken additional course work over the years in microbiology and space science and has completed Ph.D. coursework in Public Policy and Administration with a concentration in non-governmental organizations.

I am very passionate about STEM education and as a result, extremely proud to also be a Microsoft in Education Ambassador for the Boston and New England area. I also currently serve on the Board for Rebuild Africa Inc.


Presenters: John and Tisha

John currently serves as Co-Founder of JTN Education Consultants and also Director of Program Operations for the state of Massachusetts for BELL (Building Educators for Life.)

Before being promoted to this position, John was principal of IDEA Weslaco College Preparatory school in Weslaco, TX. Prior to that he was a Chemistry and Physics Alternative Certification Officer for the Houston Independent School District in Houston, TX. Throughout his 15-year career in the Houston Independent School District, he also served as a Secondary Science Instructional Coordinator, Instructional Coach, and Science Teacher.

Prior to joining the world of Education, John owned and operated his own Medical Clinic in Houston, TX. Johns Masters degree is in Chinese and Oriental Medicine. Upon graduation from the American College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in Houston, TX, John open his own clinic and practiced for a couple years.