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Preparing for Difficult Classroom Conversations: Strategies for Expert and Novice Facilitators (Lone Star College-North Harris Regional Workshop)

Total Credits: .4 Workshop CEU(s)

Dr. Jennifer H. Herman
4 Hours
Lone Star College-North Harris - Houston, Texas



Difficult classroom conversations can arise in any discipline. Contentious current events, challenging course content, and events on campus and in students' lives can all be the impetus for unexpected comments, a challenging turn in dialogue, or a need to proactively acknowledge an issue. How can you lead conversations that create a more supportive, respectful course climate? How can you tie these discussions to your course content? How do you navigate such circumstances without derailing your lesson plan? During this workshop, you’ll discuss how the structure of classroom discussion, classroom ground rules, and your facilitation skills all work together to help you navigate difficult conversations while creating a positive course climate and enhancing student learning. These strategies are designed for faculty in any discipline with any level of experience, from skilled facilitators who regularly teach topics involving difficult conversations to those who have little disciplinary training or experience in navigating tough topics.

By the end of this workshop, participants will know or be able to:

  • Reflect on experiences and challenges with difficult dialogues.
  • Learn strategies for creating a positive course climate.
  • Brainstorm how to create and use course ground rules.
  • Create discussion structures that lead to deeper listening, respect, and equitable participation.
  • Apply insights into how course climate, ground rules, and structured conversations can work together to help you navigate unexpected difficult conversations.

This workshop is almost entirely hands-on. You’ll experience many of the strategies you can immediately put into practice in your courses.

  • Structured small and large group discussions about past experiences with difficult conversations.
  • Hands-on activities for creating a positive course climate and ground rules.
  • Jigsaw discussion on four discussion strategies for difficult conversations.
  • Applying strategies to case studies.

Digital Badge, Certificate, and CEUs

All workshop participants can obtain, at no additional cost:

  • A digital badge and certificate that provide a web-enabled, verifiable documentation of your professional learning experience.
  • CEUs, which are awarded by passing the post-workshop learning assessment with a score of 80% or better.


Dr. Jennifer H. Herman's Profile

Dr. Jennifer H. Herman Related Seminars and Products

Simmons University

Dr. Jennifer H. Herman has developed, facilitated, or overseen hundreds of research-based faculty development programs around teaching and scholarship. Jennifer’s presentations, workshops, and research focus on faculty development programs and Center development, course design, teaching strategies, learning theory, teaching for inclusive excellence, student learning outcomes assessment, and online education. Her publications include Creating Engaging Discussions: Strategies for “Avoiding Crickets” in Any Size Class and Online (Stylus, 2018; with L. Nilson). Jennifer teaches courses on teaching, assessment, learning theory, and curriculum development for the Health Professions Education CAGS and doctoral program. Jennifer holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University at Buffalo and a M.A. in International Training and Education from American University and is the Executive Director, Center for Faculty Excellence at Simmons University.



Hilton Houston North
12400 Greenspoint Drive
Houston, TX 77060
(281) 875-2222

 Houston Airport Marriott at George Bush Intercontinental
18700 John F. Kennedy Blvd.
Houston, TX 77032
(281) 443-2310

Hampton Inn and Suites – Houston North IAH
707 N. Sam Houston Pkwy E.
Houston, TX 77060
(281) 447-6400


Lone Star College-North Harris

Student Services Building – Conference Center (SSB 208), 2700 W.W. Thorne Drive, Houston, Texas 77073, United States


Preliminary Schedule
Date/Time: Fri, Feb 16, 2024 - 10:00A to 02:30P (CST)
February 16, 2024
10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Central Workshop
12:00 – 12:30 p.m. Central Lunch provided by NISOD.
Venue Address
Date/Time: Fri, Feb 16, 2024 - 10:00A to 02:30P (CST)

Lone Star College-North Harris
Student Services Building – Conference Center (SSB 208)
2700 W.W. Thorne Drive
Houston, TX 77073