Listening to Understand the story changes the narrative

“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

-Lilla Watson, Aboriginal elder, activist

Renton high school: dialogue day

We are seeking your written reflections in preparation for the upcoming dialogue with the students and staff of Renton High School. The gathering will be held Tuesday, October 18, 2016 from 2:15-3:30PM. We invite you to consider a narrative-based framework to tell your story, specifically, through the series of challenge, choice and change. We believe in the power of human connection through authentic storytelling coupled with intentional listening. 

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER: Use any or none. 


What challenge(s) do you face at RHS? If this challenge were a color, what would it be? Does this challenge impact your everyday life? How so? What factors contribute to this challenge?


What choices are you making in response to the challenges you face? What choices are presented to you? What strengths do you bring to this situation? If your choices were like animals, which animal would best represent your major decisions. Who can help you?


What changes are you seeking? Do you have influence on the changes you seek? On a scale of 1-10, how ready are you to take positive action? Imagine change has occurred, what is different at RHS? If change were a plant, how would you ensure it grows?

Role *
OPTIONAL: Can you sum your message up in a topic heading or title?
You can enter as many thoughts as you wish to articulate.
OPTIONAL. This is an invitation, not a demand.

“How does integrity face oppression? What shall honesty do in the face of deception? What does decency do in the face of insult? And how does virtue meet brute force?”

- W.E.B. Du Bois paraphrased by Cornel West

Agenda & Outcomes

Audience: Approximately 25 RHS students, administration and 20 staff members. 


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

2:05 Nametags & Introductions

2:15 HEART WORK IS HARD WORK: Students, Staff and Administration Convene.

  • What are the right questions?

2:25 STUDENT VOICE: Understand the story to change the narrative. Using a fishbowl listening practice, students and administration are invited to sit in the center of the room for dialogue. Those outside this "fishbowl" will agree to remain silent note-takers. A four-minute timer will be used for each speaker to ensure equity. 

  • PROCESSING TOOLS: metaphor cards, feeling words

3:20 Gratitude Practice

3:30 Close

OUTCOMES: We will...

  • Grow our individual and collective dignity.
  • Evaluate the process.
  • Use the dialogue day to inform the professional development of all staff.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016, continued

3:40 Staff Convene: Professional Learning Preparation

4:30 Close

Friday, October 21, 2016

7:00 -8:30 AM Staff professional development

Considerations for Dialogue Day


  • Listening to understand (in contrast to listening to respond). Ask open, honest questions.

  • On Anger: It is a message. Anger tells you that you are hurt. Anger is a valid, healthy emotion. Anger is powerful and needs to be used with respect. Anger is not violence.  Anger can propel violence, yet anger itself is not violent.  Violence is a choice.  Violent, aggressive or coercive behaviors result when one decides to use one's anger energy to manipulate, threaten, or injure someone.

  • "Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives." - Bessel van der Kolk

The title of Ava DuVernay's extraordinary and galvanizing documentary 13TH refers to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which reads "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States."


Vincent Perez, Association of Washington Student Leaders

a division of the Association of Washington School Principals

Latinx Leadership | Juvenile Justice | Culturally Responsive Pedagogy | Trauma-Informed Multitiered System of Supports


Vincent Perez has served as the Latino outreach coordinator for AWSP's student leadership program since January 2012, although his involvement began in 1993 when he attended Mt. Baker leadership camp at Cispus representing Kennewick High as senior class president. Vincent has dedicated his vocational life to the art and skill of facilitation. Quality learning experiences that honor the dignity of participants is his first priority. From 2001-2006, he served as Cispus challenge course manager, and for five years he worked in Louisiana in juvenile court mentoring and diversion programs. Vincent earned an AAS in photographic communications at Northwest College and his undergraduate degree from the University of Idaho. He is currently enrolled in the MPA program at The Evergreen State College. 

Vincent has practiced experiential education and training for more than 20 years with a focus on student engagement and staff development in the areas of leadership, juvenile justice, trauma-informed care and Latino/a empowerment. In 2004, he founded La Cima (the Summit), a bilingual leadership program. This later led to the middle school program ¡La Chispa! (The Spark!). In partnership with OSPI’s Migrant Ed division, he co-founded the credit-bearing Dare to Dream Academies serving high school, migrant youth for a week-long experience in a university setting. Currently, Vincent is organizing partnerships with XITO (Xican@ Institute for Teaching and Organizing) to inform WA’s conversation on ethnic studies, leading a cross-sector collective impact effort in Lewis County and serving at Green Hill School (state juvenile rehabilitation facility) every Monday as the Latino culture group leader of Group Ollin. Grupo Ollin is exploring Indigenous knowledge and healing ceremonies, examining the impact of toxic masculinity and violence on our lives, and developing a critical thinking approach to criminal justice reform. Vincent and his wife, Kim Jansen, have three teenage sons. In his free time, he enjoys running, playing guitar and practicing yoga nidra. | | 

"Four fundamental truths: (1) our capacity to destroy one another is matched by our capacity to heal one another. Restoring relationships and community is central to restoring well-being; (2) language gives us the power to change ourselves and others by communicating our experiences, helping us to define what we know, and finding a common sense of meaning; (3) we have the ability to regulate our own physiology, including some of the so-called involuntary functions of the body and brain, through such basic activities as breathing, moving, and touching; and (4) we can change social conditions to create environments in which children and adults can feel safe and where they can thrive."

- Bessel van der Kolk