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PNAIS Professional Development Calendar

This calendar lists professional development events hosted by PNAIS and various PNAIS schools intended to promote the growth of teachers and administrators alike.  Subscribe via RSS or share our calendar by clicking on the icons below.

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Critical Conversation Lab

Date: Wednesday - October 24, 2012
Time: 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Location: Bright Water School, Seattle, WA

Critical Conversation Lab:
Exploring the skills needed to have authentic and successful conversations with parents around difficult topics. 

Who Should Attend?
Faculty and administration looking to build skills in the area of communication with parents. Specifically focusing on difficult topics like bad news or discipline.

Workshop Description
Whether you are a teacher, administrator or staff member who deals directly with parents, you have probably been involved in critical conversations that left you feeling great, empowered and supported and you have also had conversations that left you feeling anxious, angry and unsupported.  Despite the obvious importance of these critical conversations, educational professionals are given very little instruction or training on how to have them successfully.  Even when that training does occur, it is often out of context, and does not accurately address the complex nature of conversation and does not effectively prepare educators for how to:

  • Give bad news clearly and succinctly
  • Hear critical feedback that is emotionally based without getting defensive
  • Give both positive and challenging feedback to parents about your experience working with them
  • Understand and recognize one's own personal triggers and how to effectively keep personal issues out of work conversations
  • Own one's mistakes as an act of leadership with parents and students
  • Move the conversation forward
  • Deal with repair when conversations do not go as planned

This one-day workshop will be an opportunity to explore the skills that are foundational to critical conversations, with time to practice them and get feedback from your peers.  We will also work to understand the most common behaviors that lead to dissatisfaction for both parents and educators.  Further, we will share critical conversation tools that help guide these conversations and help provide educators with a conceptual framework for what components are always present in a successful critical conversation.  Whether you are interested in developing your own skills further or you are looking for more tools to help coach those that report to you, the skills taught will be applicable.   

Participants in this workshop can expect a hands-on, experiential learning environment in which we utilize practice exercises, role-play and conversation to tackle these topics.

Brenda and Ryan are passionate about supporting authentic conversations with parents.  During the 2011 Fall Educators Conference, their breakout session on the same topic filled the room beyond capacity and was the highest rated session of the day.  They have expanded upon the topic, developing a full day of experiential learning that will leave attendees more aware and confident as they broach difficult topics with parents.

Ryan Burke, Dean of Students at The Overlake School, has been an educator for twelve years and has experience teaching both special education and regular education.  He has a master's degree in Applied Behavioral Science and has experience as a family therapist.  For the last five years he has served as an administrator in independent schools.   Currently he is Dean of Students at The Overlake School and Co-Founder of Leading is Learning, an organization that is committed to creating experiences for students, teachers and organizations that want to be leaders in the 21st Century. 

Brenda Leaks, Middle School Head at The Overlake School
, has also been an educator for twelve years, and she has experience as a teacher and division head in independent schools.   She holds a master's degree from the Klingenstein Institute at Columbia in Independent School Administration.   


PNAIS Attendees

  • Early Bird (By October 1, 2012): $95
  • Regular (After October 1, 2012): $145

Non-PNAIS Attendees: $195

TO RECEIVE THE REGISTRATION DISCOUNT: Your registration must be complete and payment must be postmarked or received by the appropriate deadline.

  • For registrations completed by mail or online registrations with payment by check, payment must be postmarked by deadline date.
  • Online registrations paid by credit card must be completed by 11:59pm on the deadline date.


Watch our short Online Registration how-to video.  For best results, click the play icon (triangle) and then allow the video to load before starting playback.

Cancellation Policy

Substitutions may be made any time prior to the conference. Written cancellations received by October 15, 2012 are eligible for a refund after a $50 cancellation fee. Cancellations received after October 15, 2012 are ineligible for any refund.

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Upcoming Conferences

Registration Now Open
September 10, 2012
Bloodborne Pathogens Workshop
Location: Seattle Country Day School, Seattle, WA

Registration Now Open
September 22, 2012 (Sat.)
New Trustees Workshop
Location: Island School,
Bainbridge Island, WA

Registration Now Open
September 23, 2012 (Sun.)
New Trustees Workshop
Location: Seattle Hebrew Academy, Seattle, WA

Registration Now Open
September 29, 2012 (Sat.)
New Trustees Workshop
Location: The Catlin Gabel School, Portland, OR

Registration Now Open
October 11, 2012 (Thurs.)
Self Study Coordinators Workshop
Location: Annie Wright School
Tacoma, WA

October 12, 2012 (Fri.)
Fall Educators Conference
Location: Annie Wright School
Tacoma, WA

Registration Now Open
October 24, 2012 (Wed.)
Critical Conversation Lab
Location: Bright Water School, Seattle, WA

Registration Now Open
November 3-4, 2012 (Sat.-Sun.)
Institutional Leadership Conference
Location: Cedarbrook Lodge
Seatac, WA

Registration Now Open
November 4-5, 2012 (Sun.-Mon.)
Fall Heads Meeting
Location: Cedarbrook Lodge
Seatac, WA

Registration Now Open
November 6, 2012 (Tues.)
Sustainable Fundraising Workshop
Location: University Child Development School, Seattle, WA

Registration Now Open
Dec. 3, 2012 (Mon.)
Meeting The Needs of All Learners Through Differentiated Instruction
Location: Bertschi School, Seattle, WA

Jan. 18, 2013 (Fri.)
The Framework of Teaching – Using the Danielson Model To Design An Effective Teacher Evaluation Model (limited to 40 people)
Location: Hamlin Robinson School, Seattle, WA

Jan. 31 - Feb. 1, 2013 (Thurs.-Fri.)
Professional Growth Institute
Location: St. Andrew's House, Union, WA

February 8-9, 2013 (Fri.-Sat.)
Student Diversity Leadership Retreat
For Students in grades 10, 11 and 12
Location: The Overlake School, Redmond, WA

Mar. 4, 2013 (Mon.)
Playful Literacy: Supporting the Connections Between the Arts and Literacy in Early Childhood Education
Location: Epiphany School, Seattle, WA

Mar. 15, 2013 (Fri.)
Getting To No: Becoming Truly Collegial with Rob Evans
Location:  The Adelson Educational Campus, Las Vegas, NV

Mar. 18, 2013 (Mon.)
Small School Response to Critical Events
Location: Seattle Girls' School, Seattle, WA

April 21-23, 2013 (Sun.-Tues.)
Business Officers Conference
Location: Cedarbrook Lodge, Sea-Tac, WA

May 5-7, 2013 (Sun.-Tues.)
Spring Heads Conference
Location: Alderbrook Resort, Union, WA

May 18, 2013 (Sat.)
Board Chairs Workshop
Location: Talaris Conference Center, Seattle, WA

June 20-21, 2013 (Thurs.-Fri.)
Administrative Assistants
Location: TBA

June 24-26, 2013 (Mon.-Wed.)
Leadership Institute
Location: Sleeping Lady Resort, Leavenworth, WA

June 24-26, 2013 (Mon.-Wed.)
Diversity Practitioners Retreat
Location: Sleeping Lady Resort, Leavenworth, WA

PNAIS - Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools
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