Using Skilled Dialogue to Transform Challenging Interactions: Honoring Identity, Voice, and Connection

Authors: Isaura Barrera Ph.D., Lucinda Kramer Ph.D.

Format: Paperback, 296 pages, 7.0 x 10.0
ISBN: 9781557669551
Price: $36.95

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Because behavior is rooted in culture, responding to the challenges posed by diverse behavior in early childhood settings depends on a deep understanding of the experiences, values, perceptions, and beliefs that shape it. This is the book that shows professionals how to interpret behavior in the context of culture—and use their knowledge to improve even the most challenging interactions.

Applying Isaura Barrera's popular Skilled Dialogue approach to challenging interactions of all types—be they between adults and children or only between adults—this positive and practical guide works because it transforms the behavior of everyone: young children with special needs, early childhood professionals, and families. With this fresh, creative approach to addressing behavior challenges, early education professionals will discover how to

  • apply the three critical qualities of Skilled Dialogue: respect for differences, reciprocity that honors diverse perspectives, and responsiveness to a person's true identity and needs
  • nurture young children's confidence and sense of self while building effective behavioral supports
  • become better communicators and collaborators with colleagues and families
  • make the most of the gifts and strengths inherent in differences rather than perceiving them as roadblocks or weaknesses
  • build mutually beneficial relationships rather than seeking control over others
  • dismantle the stereotypes that can harm relationships and encourage negative judgments
  • move beyond rigid "either-or" thinking and welcome multiple ways of reaching a desired outcome

Extended case examples and specific classroom strategies give readers models for their own interactions, vignettes with discussion questions help readers practice what they learn, and tools such as self-assessments and case analysis exercises make it easy to implement Skilled Dialogue in any early childhood setting. The book also includes a handy Skilled Dialogue Quick Sheet that users can keep at their fingertips for a fast, reader-friendly refresher on implementing the model.

A must for every professional who works with young children and families, this book will help readers change the way they think about behavior—and resolve challenges in ways that honor diverse cultures and perspectives.


Review by: James Cox, The Midwest Book Review Education Shelf

"Professionals interested in understanding early childhood behaviors will find Using Skilled Dialogue a key to uncovering underlying perceptions and beliefs that shape such behaviors...this is a top pick for any early childhood education library."

Review by: Maria Hernandez-Becerra, Education Review- Brief Reviews

"...the authors provide the reader with excellent exercises for creating thought-provoking discussion and brainstorming ideas."

Review by: Jacqueline Baker, District Instructional Resource Teacher, Madison Metropolitan School District

"An immensely important book . . . answers the question of how to reform schools now and reform them quickly without devaluing our most precious resource—the students and educators with whom we work."

Review by: Cynthia Paris, Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, University of Delaware

"Promises to promote both personal and professional growth to all who engage thoughtfully with the authors' powerful ideas and true-to-life examples and exercises."

Table of Contents

About the Authors
Foreword: Lynn Andrews and Charlotte M. Brantley
Introduction: Beyond Understanding Cultural Diversity

Part I: Honoring Identity, Voice and Connection

  1. Nurturing Children's Spirits and Sense of Self
  2. Seeing Different Behaviors Differently

Part II: Skilled Dialogue Framework

  1. Respect, Reciprocity, and Responsiveness
  2. Choosing Relationship over Control
  3. Setting the Stage for Miracles
  4. Between Dispositions and Outcomes: Skilled Dialogue in Action

Part III: Skilled Dialogue Strategies

  1. Differences Do Not Make People Wrong: Welcoming and Allowing
  2. Diversity Is Always Life Enhancing: Sense-Making and Appreciating
  3. There Is Always a Third Choice: Joining and Harmonizing

Part IV: Skilled Dialogue Applications: Weaving Dispositions and Strategies

  1. Challenging Adult-to-Adult Interactions
  2. Challenging Adult-to-Child Interactions
  3. Practice Cases
Appendix A: Overview of Behavioral Approaches to Challenging Behaviors
Appendix B: Frequently Asked Questions
Appendix C: Blank Forms

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