Becoming ‘Deep-Listening Leaders’

Getting people’s minds to be in the right place for the BIG return and beyond

The first morning for a school preparing to be reopened after the Covid 19 lockdown may well feel like a September Inset where every single staff member has had the worst possible summer break imaginable.

Everyone will have stories to tell. Some will have experienced personal tragedies, some may have had the virus badly themselves. Some may feel guilty, perhaps from ‘enjoying’ the lockdown or even from surviving it when others haven’t. Everyone will have been deeply affected in their own, unique way.

Many will need to tell their stories, possibly to offload the underlying hurt or trauma and they will need people willing and able to listen. For schools, this means staff just won’t be in the right frame of mind to even think about timetables, new pupils/students, PHSE planning, curriculum, policies etc let alone get into planning lessons or interventions or the million and one other actions so necessary to reopen.

Deep, empathic listening is a high-level skill. It is easy to be complacent because we are human and we all assume we do it well. We then only hear the partial message and will miss important cues. This half-day training, with the option of a 2 hour follow up, will prepare your leaders with the skills and qualities to hone their listening skills and to train others so that all your staff can openly tell their stories, process their emotions and will feel supported to re-engage with the challenges of school life. Beyond re-opening, honing high-level listening skills will empower your leaders to deal with the challenges arising from the wide and continually evolving scope of their roles.

Pre-course individual activities: participants are asked to undertake two activities specifically designed for this programme and to make a few notes reflecting on their experiences and thoughts

  1. Introductions, session aims and outline plus ground rules
  2. Discussion in pairs with plenary feedback: share learning from pre-course activity; identify key qualities for effective listening and understand why listening is important
  3. Exploration of key models [Julie Starr and Kate Murphy]; Taming your Advice Monster [Bungay-Stanier]: removing barriers to listening and barriers to being listened to; using successful strategies and tools e.g. a Listening Agreement and a practical framework for a listening conversation
  4. Listening skills practice: please note this is not role-play!
  5. Plenary review and identify learning, including the Listener’s needs


  1. The next steps: how to take this forward with consideration of links with other school processes and how to develop a listening culture across your school; small group work and plenary discussion
  2. Developing your school session[s]: enabling staff to be listened to and to prepare staff to listen to their colleagues, to pupils and parents
  3. Being your own listening coach: reflecting on listening as a developmental, nurturing practice; holding self-criticism in check
  4. Review of learning and conclusion

Please contact us for further details:

Gary Edwards

07933 220 183

Bernadette Lax 

07850 882 462

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