People in conversation

Video: Newburyport Public School Educators on Working with Essential Partners

“When Jia Tolentino heard about this EP approach—the full-spectrum listening for values, actions, and emotions—she was so impressed she said she's going to use that technique when she interviews the next subject of one of her profiles for the New Yorker.”

Eric Schildge, Educator

Newburyport, MA

Two EP-trained educators from Newburyport's Nock Middle School, English Language Arts teacher Eric Schildge and Social Studies teacher Jennifer Groskin, were recently interviewed by Mary Jacobsen, host of the Morning Show, along with several Newburyport students.

They discuss the importance of teaching students to hold meaningful discussions across the differences and how deep listening provides educators with a powerful learning tool—honing students' curiosity, enabling them to understand and connect better with people, and fostering reflecting into their own perspectives and values as well as those of others.

Here's what Eric Schildge had to say about the collaboration:

“Here at Newburyport Public Schools there’s a real emphasis on ongoing learning and professional development. So this summer we had to do a lot of prep work for this new pandemic-response, hybrid learning model. One of the things that the school invested in was a collaboration with a group called Essential Partners, which is an organization that focuses on fostering healthy dialogue across lines of difference both in schools and among adults and in communities. 

“We met over the summer for 16 hours of professional development on how to facilitate what they call the Dialogic Classroom. Essential Partners trained us in a whole range of skills that really address the importance of listening, asking genuine questions, and not talking past one another to get to kind of like the texture of the human experience.

“It wasn't the nitty-gritty technical stuff that a lot of teachers are accustomed to when it comes to their planning. But it really helped steep us in the mentality and philosophy, which we then were able to apply to all sorts of parts of our curriculum. So you'll hear from the students today that this sort of approach to listening and asking questions has spanned many of the different assignments and learning activities that they've had an opportunity to participate in.

“But it all started really this summer with those 16 hours of professional development with Essential Partners.”

And we would be remiss not to share this nugget:

“One of the things the students are working on now in English Language Arts is writing profiles… We have had several guest speakers, one of whom was Jia Tolentino, a staff writer for the New Yorker. When she heard about this approach—the full-spectrum listening for values, actions, and emotions—she was so impressed she said she's going to use that technique when she interviews the next subject of one of her profiles for the New Yorker.”

A writer, translator, and editor, Daniel Pritchard serves as the Director of Strategic Communications for Essential Partners.