How Leaders Can Grow a Culture for Active and Inclusive Engagement: Focusing on VOICE

Since the spring of 2020 due to COVID, many of our school meetings are virtual so it is even more important to pay attention to how to engage participants making certain that every person is seen as a respected and valued participant. How can I, as a leader in my school community, use the attribute of Voice to empower a dialogue about critical issues we are facing in our school community?

(Note: Voice is one of the four attributes of personalized learning). They develop the power of voicing their own ideas and recognize the shift that can happen by thoughtfully listening to others’ ideas.

The following are some self-coaching questions and actions you might consider as you plan for a critical conversation at a faculty meeting.


  • In what ways will I invite staff to express their thoughts and opinions?
  • What norms or rules might I use to create an environment of safety for staff to respectfully disagree with one another (and you)?
  • What strategies might I use to give staff the opportunity to advocate for a position?
  • How will I encourage staff to raise questions that are skeptical or out of the box?


  • Introduce and model the  Habits of Mind:  Listening with Understanding and Empathy; Questioning and Problem Posing; and Thinking Flexibly. This is a good opportunity to show the benefit of paying attention to these habits as a way to create make it safe for participation.
  • Establish rules or protocols of engagement with staff when having 1:1, team/committee meetings or whole faculty conversations. They should play an active role in the generation and consensus of the rules. Here is an example of rules one faculty uses to make certain the conversations remain personal, inclusive, and safe:
    1. We hold all stories or personal material in confidentiality.
    2. We listen to each other with compassion and curiosity.
    3. We ask for what we need and offer what we can.
    4. We agree to employ a group guardian to watch our need, timing and energy.
    5. We agree to pause at a signal when we feel the need to pause.
  • Periodically check in through staff surveys. There can be subtle or seismic shifts throughout the year based on professional development experiences, workload, and how they feel about certain topics/resources. 

Looking to dig deeper? Download our Framework that combines the four attributes of personalized learning with Habits of Mind!

More on the Four Attributes:


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