The first days of August welcomed a now-annual flagship PATHWAYS program – the fourth Negotiation Education Summer Institute (NESI).
Receiving participants to the SPNI School at Mt. Hermon, PATHWAYS staff introduced our partners at the U.S. Embassy and our expert guest from the U.S., Liz Rayer.
Liz is a partner at the Boston-based Vantage Partners consulting firm and an expert in negotiation, communication and adult learning. Over the next day and a half, Liz introduced key principles and frameworks from the book Difficult Conversations, with activities including a painting tournament, dynamic role plays, exploration of conceptual frameworks, and skills-practice and application, among other things – all engaging tools breaking down complex negotiation and communication concepts in such a way that English educators could apply them in their own classrooms with young students, and in their own lives.
Liz completed her time with us on Wednesday morning with a challenging role play for all participants – a four-way negotiation among estranged family members. Then, taking the lessons learned over the past day and a half, we turned our attention to applying the ideas in a series of language education workshops. In a rotation akin to Master Chef, participants attended three courses exploring connections between negotiation concepts and poetry, “fishbowl” role plays, and interactive speaking-production activities.
We finished the evening with our partner in poetry, Alfie Gelbard. His workshop offered an introduction to using principles of slam poetry into English language education. PATHWAYS consistently collaborates with Alfie because he has a truly gifted way to encourage genuine expression in a foreign language and draw creativity, courage, and often humor from all of his students.
The final day of NESI was a matter of putting all of the pieces together – the negotiation concepts, the English language point of connection, and the experiential teaching methods. Teachers obtained not only resources directly from Liz and Vantage Partners, but also thirty new teaching tools they themselves had created and contributed to the larger PATHWAYS community through PATHWAYS’s growing online resource library.
Another thread throughout the program was that of “movement and flow” by our wonderful partner in yoga Tali Levenfeld, who offered daily yoga instruction and energizers to help the group recharge during the brimming schedule. The activities she offered were not only for our benefit, but also were analyzed and discussed for use in each teacher’s classroom to help students maintain focus and energy throughout the day.
As all PATHWAYS sessions do, the week closed with a powerful closing circle of gratitude and acknowledgement. We carry that with us and send it to you all as you begin this new school year. We hope that those who participated in NESI 2019 carry this experience with them into the school and beyond.
In fact, we’ve already heard a couple of stories from a few teachers about how this helped them get the year off to a good start:
A sticky situation came up on Thursday with a mother of a student. We were both looking at the same situation, but had different interpretations and were coming to different conclusions. I used skills that I learned at the Negotiation Education seminar, and they worked beautifully. Problem resolved. Relationship back on track. Wow! I was so pleased.
If you are already part of the PATHWAYS Community, we encourage you to keep pursuing your own culture of negotiation as you bring these concepts into the classroom and your own lives – it is a daily practice. We’ll be in touch with news about opportunities for ongoing learning and meeting.
If you have not yet participated, please check our website and Facebook for opportunities to join the PATHWAYS community of educators.
Thank you to the U.S. Embassy for sponsoring this program and to our partners who helped bring it to life.