Leadership · Curriculum · Lifelong Learning

Hello, Friends!

Since shifting into my new role, I find myself wanting even more time to process and reflect. I haven’t blogged or posted as much lately. However, I can’t wait any longer to share this reflection. This one has me thinking about so much more than just school, work, and the education profession.

Here’s my progression of thought in real time:

A few years ago, I saw Phil Echols tweeting about collaboration strategies. He was using words like “pause, paraphrase, pose questions.” I was curious. I kept following to learn more.

Later, I saw Phil’s sketchnote about the 7 Norms of Collaboration. It looks like “pause, paraphrase, pose questions” were three norms in a larger framework of expectations for meetings. This is interesting. How might this happen in our work spaces? How about in a Professional Learning Team (PLT) meeting? I’m still thinking on this.

Last year, I saw the 7 Norms of Collaboration appearing on meeting agendas. Usually, we breezed through the norms in about ten seconds. The facilitator would read the list. Attendees gave their thumbs-up agreement to abide accordingly. I knew the what, but I didn’t really know the why or how.

Last Fall, I got to see the modeling of these norms during my #wcpssplcplus training. Seeing examples in action helped me access prior knowledge to identify the norms, build bridges to the how, and connect to the why in deeper levels of relevance, rigor, and significance. In fact, I was starting to question myself:

Am I really practicing things like “pause, paraphrase, pose questions” in the workplace?

Last week, I got to attend the workshop: “Cultivating Greatness through Listening and Inquiry.” On day one (of three), I got to see the norms-exemplifying Model Conversation again. This time, it really hit home. It was starting to get personal. For the first time, I was starting to think about how these norms might apply to me beyond the workplace. Again, I questioned myself:

Am I really practicing things like “pause, paraphrase, pose questions” in my personal life?

What Is Paraphrasing?

According to Phil’s sketchnote below, paraphrasing includes: acknowledging, organizing, and abstracting:

Why Paraphrasing Matters

In the middle of pausing and posing questions (which definitely encompass the following rationales) is paraphrasing. It’s hard for me to separate the three. Yet, it’s paraphrasing that’s really captivating me and convicting me to become better.

While I have a lot more research to do on all of the 7 Norms of Collaboration, as of today, I believe that…


  • Provides space to extend expression.
  • Invites psychological safety.
  • Inspires connection.
  • Embraces interdependence.
  • Validates the speaker is heard.
  • Affirms the speaker is valued.
  • Seeks to clarify for understanding.
  • Mediates thinking.
  • Cultivates meaning.
  • Requires active listening, intention, discipline.
  • Walks through every step of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
  • Is valuable to the speaker and the listener.
  • Is a learning opportunity for all.
  • Empowers speaker to own the process.

Paraphrasing Might:

  • Build bridges.
  • Ignite inquiry.
  • Envelope empathy.
  • Lead to potential problem-solving.
  • Transform discussion into dialogue.
  • Deepen relational trust.
  • Surface speaker authenticity.
  • Foster interpersonal skills.
  • Strengthen speaker-listener relationship.
  • Repeatedly circle back in feedback loops and reflection.

When Paraphrasing Gets Personal

For the longest time, I thought that norms like paraphrasing were just for work stuff. Norms maintain order in meetings in all the professional things. Yet, when I thought about paraphrasing in my personal life, I felt all the feelings:

  • Acknowledgement: When I hear certain words, phrases, or topics, my auto-pilot immediately connects them to several tweets, posts, blogs, books, podcasts, conferences, professional learning experiences, and personal memories. Analogies abound, and sometimes they get deep. In fact, sometimes I’m all too excited to insert myself and my “expertise” into discussions, dissolving any chance for meaningful dialogue. Therefore, I have to be extra-intentional in pausing my auto-pilot in order to be a better listener. Active listening can be hard. It requires a lot of self-discipline for me, and it can be mentally exhausting.
  • Guilt: I’m not very good at paraphrasing. I need to become a better listener.
  • Regret: Throughout my life, I’ve interacted with people that have meant so much to me. I can recall several instances in which paraphrasing would have helped me clarify intentions, avoid misunderstandings, and strengthen relationships. I can recall so many times when I could have done better to center others in meaningful moments together. Especially when hustling for my worth at a younger age, and usually wanting to be right, I regret the relational opportunities lost as a result of my immaturity, lower EQ, and poor listening. I want them back.
  • Perspective: I believe that:
    • Paraphrasing can improve communication, strengthen relationships, and inspire better learning opportunities.
    • Paraphrasing can grow people, restore a family, and save a marriage.
    • Interpersonal skills have never been more needed to make the world a better place.
    • Emotional Intelligence (EQ) requires self-awareness, social awareness, vulnerability, and empathy.
    • A sense of self and a sense of belonging are eventually interdependent and grow together.
  • Hope: I’m not very good at paraphrasing. YET.
  • Inspiration: I want to become better at this.
  • Ambition: I’m going to improve my interpersonal skills.
  • Anticipation: Where, when, and how might there be more opportunities?

I hear you. You’ve made it this far, and you’re thinking it through. You’re contemplating comments you might want to leave. 😉

What are your thoughts? Comment here!

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