". . . imitation of communication."

—excerpted from the free Communication-Skills Tutorial for Teachers
Teachers/educators click the teachers button

Everyone else click the everyone else button

The primary difference between the two is that the article written for everyone else uses language and examples appropriate for non educators.


v 1.19

"The single biggest problem
in communication
is the illusion
that it has taken place."

—George Bernard Shaw

Imitation of Communication—for teachers:

Teachers in the Hilo area may request a Free Observing-Coaching Session after reading this webpage.

For the purpose of the tutorial we make a distinction between talking and communicating.

I know that communication has taken place when I've manifested my stated intention, and, when the results are mutually satisfying. 

When the results are disappointing, not what I envisioned, I have an opportunity to acknowledged that somewhere during the interaction I had gone unconscious. I had lapsed into talking —doing my imitation of communication—in which case I manifested an intention, just not one I thought I was intending. When I remain unconscious and don't acknowledged responsibility for the result I produced using my leadership-communication skills I usually find myself stuck in blame—blaming another/others or the "universe" for the result.

Note: We are always manifesting our intentions.

Example of a Homework Communication:

Teacher: "The homework is . . . I expect it to be done neatly. I want it turned in this Friday."

If the homework was not done neatly and turned in on time then we say that communication did not take place; you, the teacher, did not communicate what you thought you communicated; you didn't manifest your stated intention.*  Instead, what you did communicate, non-verbally, was that you didn't mean for everyone to do it. In other words, one or more students clearly got that you did not mean what you said. What happened was you unconsciously lapsed into doing your imitation of communication. In truth, you only created the illusion of an agreement.

What's also true is, you lied. You said something and didn't mean it. All truths and all lies (even lies of which you are unaware) have consequences. In this example you've lost the respect of one or more students and their parents. This is neither bad nor wrong. It's not your fault. You simply have not been taught to create agreements; you've been loosed on students without having mastered teaching.

More accurately, we say that you lapsed into your public speaking mode of communicating. A public speaker has no intention for everyone in the audience to get and understand what he/she is presenting. Public speakers, like college professors, hold that it's the listener's responsibility to get everything. It is inappropriate to relate with K-12 students this way because they have not experienced making a choice to be in school; it could be said they have been manipulated into doing what others expect of them. They are not clear about agreements and, most importantly, no one has communicated the definition of the word responsibility to each and every student.

It's rare that any two teachers in any school have (operate from) the same definition of the word responsibility.

It takes a communication-skills coach about 30 hours, over a weekend-long communication-skills workshop, to communicate the word responsibility so that everyone in the room (100 participants) is clear about and is communicating from the same definition of the word responsibility—not the "right" definition or "the" definition, just an agreed upon definition to use during the workshop.

When both/all parties in a conversation communicate from the same definition of the word responsibility there are seldom any blaming angry arguments.

Another example:

In a communication-skills workshop when the facilitator communicates,—

"It's time for a 15-minute bathroom break.  The time is now 9:30. Be back in your seats at 9:45."

—that's what happens. With few exceptions during an entire weekend-long workshop participants are in their seats at each designated time. Communication takes place even with a large audience. The difference? The workshop facilitator communicates the break with intention. The facilitator knows with certainty that at any given moment during a workshop some participants are daydreaming, upset, or are unconscious).* This is a given. Therefore it's the facilitator's job to command attention before putting content, such as co-creating a bathroom break agreement, in the space.

It's the facilitator's (teacher's) job to intend that all participants not only hear the words but that they intend to recreate the facilitator's intention.

Above we use the word"communicates" to make the distinction between announcing and communicating.

Announcing a bathroom break results in several participants returning to their seats late. When a break is "announced" participants have no reality that they have an agreement to be back in their seats at a specific time.

When homework is "announced," "put out," "handed out," or "assigned," it results in some students not doing it as envisioned. Read The Homework Story.

It takes about 500 hours to train a Communication-Skills Workshop Co-facilitator Trainee to communicate a bathroom break. Most of the training has to do with a trainee learning to recreate a Workshop Supervisor's intentions. "Put a sharpened pencil under everyone's chair. Place it this way." Thousands of similar instructions are communicated throughout a three-day workshop. All instructions are recreated, no excuses, no reasons.

Unlike a military drill instructor's communication model, referred to as an authoritarian or the adversarial communication model, (characterized by abusive yelling and condescension), a workshop supervisor uses what's referred to as Intentional Communication, also referred to as the Mutually Satisfying Communication Model. In other words, military-like precise results can be consistently achieved without being abusive.

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talking vs communicating

illusion of an agreement

communication model

enrolling skills

agreements are honored

adversarial model examples

fear of students/parents

agreement curriculum

becoming vs. being a teacher


coaching appointment


Note 1: We address you the reader
 by using the word "you."

Note 2: Mouse over asterisks* for







. . . a break is communicated with intention.

















When a teacher becomes stuck doing
 his/her imitation of communication
 they create the illusion of an agreement.



Enrolling Skills:

Enrolling others to recreate one's intention is not taught to education majors at the level of skill.

Kept/honored agreements can be produced consistently, at will; most importantly, one is constantly teaching others how to do it through example.

Most principals have yet to master having (causing) all their teachers hand in the various daily, weekly, and monthly reports—completely filled in, neatly, accurately, and on time. Because principals have not been taught how to co-create agreements they cannot model the skill, therefore many teachers create the illusion of agreements with students and their parents.

A teacher is able to enroll students and parents into honoring agreements whereas an education major (someone in the process of becoming a teacher) can only produce such a result [accidentally] with a few [self-motivated] students and parents.

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". . . agreements are honored."

For the purpose of the tutorial we say that agreements, which are always co-created, are honored.

When you become stuck doing your imitation of communication you create the illusion of an agreement.

Creating/co-creating agreements is not included in any education major's speech-communication curriculum. Ironically, it is covered in great depth, through to a skill-level, in many advanced sales training programs in the insurance, automobile, and real estate professions.

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Communication Model

The communication model used throughout the tutorial is called Intentional Communication. It's also referred to as Mutually Satisfying Communication.

Intentional Communication is different than the prevailing university and education-major communication model which interestingly is referred to as the "Adversarial Communication Model," the same model used by our legal system.

The word "adversarial" is used because all parties communicate from, are driven by, survival. The focus is on being right, passing not failing, winning not losing, better than, more money than, succeeding at the expense of another. It's easier to see the model when interacting with attorneys because they are concerned with fault-finding and blame.

When couples begin to have relationship communication problems virtually none return to any of their former speech/communication teachers for guidance or support. In fact, when couples use the university-taught adversarial communication model, it most always generates acrimonious divorces. Few have learned how to communicate any other way.

The adversarial model is further characterized by gossip, talking negatively about another behind his/her back. 

Most often a listener of gossip, say in a teacher's lounge, will hold the opinion that gossiping is wrong, yet not stop it mid-sentence when they hear it, directly, or even in the background. Instead, they condone it, put up with it, unconsciously intend it, with self-righteous judgmental silence. They do this in a way that causes others to think highly of them (awards and commendations) while they themselves think less of the actual badmouthers. This is called covert sabotage—of the badmouther and the principal. Note: No teacher should receive an award unless everyone votes to retain all the teachers for the next year. In other words, it's impossible to have an excellent teacher and a poor teacher in the same school. A school's principal inspires (teaches) all the teachers to perform equally as well. The integrity of a car is dependent upon all the cylinders performing equally as well, not, "Cylinder #1, you're doing a better job than the others, here's an award." If a cylinder is performing poorly then that cylinder is virtually removed (replaced/repaired). All teachers in most every school vote daily to submit students to a teacher most everyone knows should not be teaching. An anonymous survey by the students always reveals the poor teacher(s). i.e. "List the best teachers and the worst teachers."

The fundamental motivations of adversaries are fear and survival. The implied agreement is that it's ok, and even necessary, to withhold certain thoughts from others, for fear of . . .

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Adversarial Model Examples:

University faculty members communicate from an us/them paradigm. They use this same adversarial model when they argue and fight with the legislature for more funds. Such arguments are characterized by name-calling and blame. "Those @#*% won't give us the money we need for supplies, etc."  The populace, their graduates, thinking this is the right/only way to communicate, emulate them and fight and argue similarly in most all such matters.

Quite often a professor, in front of students, will say negative things about a college president behind his/her back . It's considered the norm, ". . . everyone does it, etc."

Faculty members will say negative things about students and parents in the faculty lounge (This is not unethical as long as the teacher follows through and shares with the student or parent what they found themselves saying behind their back).

Education majors emulate their mentors, especially the Speech/Communication faculty's adversarial communication model. They become addicted to blaming.

For example, an education major might say,

"Some parents just won't come to parent-teacher meetings." (covert blame) whereas a teacher would say, "I don't know how to communicate so as to produce 100% parent participation." Or, "I don't know how to communicate with the legislature so that they will fund our requirements."

  • Both professors and high school teachers dump responsibility for getting their communications (subject matter) on the student.

  • The word "dump" is used here because it is irresponsible to relate with another as though they operate from your definition of the word responsible.

  • A definition of the word responsible is not taught in schools—through to clarity—consequently each teacher/professor has his/her own definition. Each have his/her own point of view of things for which they are willing or not willing to be responsible. The Teacher's Tutorial presents a definition and uses it throughout the tutorial.

  • It's understood that a college student is responsible for being clear about homework. It's also known that the minds of most high school students are preoccupied at any given second and therefore they might not be in-the-now, not present, not conscious, when words are exchanged between teachers and students. Many high school teachers operate from the same point of view as a professor's, "If you don't hear/get me then it's your fault that communication didn't take place."

  • For example: I, the tutorial coach, am not responsible for ensuring that you the reader are absolutely clear about the contents of this page (the word "absolutely" is redundant here. It's used because the word clear could be misunderstood). As the tutorial coach I do however accept responsibility with tutorial participants. That is to say, we communicate through to mutual satisfaction.

  • For the most part, college students withhold most judgments, criticisms, resentments, the negative thoughts, they have of certain faculty members, out of fear of recrimination. Faculty have not been taught how to create a safe space for the truth to be told. These thoughts withheld by students serve as barriers to communication.

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Education majors emulate
 their mentors, especially the Speech/
Communication faculty's adversarial communication model.





In lay terms this means that professors and high school teachers
 dump responsibility for getting their communications
(the subject matter)
on the student.






The fundamental motivations
of adversaries are fear and survival.



". . . fear of students/parents."

Most education majors have fear in their relationship with some of their students and parents and fellow faculty members. 

As education majors they were not taught how to deliver certain truths and have others feel good upon completion. They are afraid to verbally deliver certain kinds of important, extremely uncomfortable, feedback to the parents and their child. This keeps everyone producing more of the same.

Behind the doors of the teacher's lounge some education majors say things they wouldn't dare say to a parent's face.

It turns from a "clearing" to badmouthing/gossip when the teacher does not afterwards tell the parent what he/she was saying behind his/her back. 

Other's in the lounge, the "nice teachers" (quite often the ones that receive the awards), non-verbally condone the gossiping behavior with silence. These education majors, with their unconscious "nice/polite acts," are surrounded by gossipers because they continually reward/reinforce such behavior.

Ironically, suppressed gossip (gossip communicated non-verbally, such as a negative judgement) has the same detrimental, more-of-the-same, effects as does irresponsible verbal gossip.

For example: Telling a parent that they are abusing their child produces the exact same results as non-verbally communicating the same.

For every education major stuck in poor performance there is a "good teacher" sitting silently, self-righteously, on their judgments, criticisms and valuable feedback, thereby keeping the whole school stuck in mediocrity. What's so is, the "good educator" is thwarting the principal, looking good while enabling the poor educator.


1) When a leadership-communication skills coach gets into communication with all the staff of a school the effect is so profound that the faculty will experience a transformation—not just a change but an actual transformation. That, or the effects of such a conversation will inspire a wannabe teacher to voluntarily leave the school in support of the school system's integrity, and in so doing create space for a transformation.

2) In reality most school systems cannot hire a coach because screeners, those that hire, do so from their university-taught adversarial communication model. The interviewer/screener will automatically find a reason to not hire a coach; they create dozens of hoops for the coach to jump-through. Consequently, coaches seldom offer their services to a school system. To offer is considered suicidal behavior. In truth an interviewer/screener must be willing to be coached (willingly elict feedback) as they conduct the interview.

3) A coach will not enter into a prolonged conversation with a professional educator (outside of a consultation or workshop) because educators are addicted to arguing. That, and educators cannot be trusted to communicate openly, honestly, and spontaneously. During conversations they withhold certain thoughts, for reasons. Without an agreement a coach does not have permission to teach others how to communicate—if a coach hears a lie, or is spoken to condescendingly (abusively), which is most always the case when interacting with educators ("Well, you've got to understand ...") the coach simply, quietly, extracts themselves from the conversation.

4) It is virtually impossible for a coach to not hear a lie/error or an abusive communication within the first few minutes of a conversation with an educator. With a Coaching Agreement the educator gives permission to the coach to interrupt them for clarification, feedback, or correction. With a Coaching Agreement the feedback is valued not argued with.

* We use the word "conscious" to draw attention to the fact that when our mind becomes clouded with stuff (thoughts of guilt, perpetrations, and withholds) we become shut down. We can barely see that we are shut down except through another's feedback. We no longer are the sharp awake person we are capable of being. When we go unconscious we accidentally take as many people down with us as possible.  We set others up to awake us. Ironically, when they don't catch us (wake us up, get into communication with us) we lose respect for them and we settle into mediocrity.

During some forms of Zen meditation the master will notice a novice going unconscious (to sleep) and whack them on the shoulder with a split-ended bamboo stick. This effectively returns the meditator to reality. Later the novice thanks the master for supporting him in being awake.

As a teacher, it could be said that when students and parents are recreating your intentions then everyone is awake. When they go unconscious (when a parent sends their child to school without the homework being done) your job is to first wake (whack) yourself and then them—yourself through coaching, them with a communication.

Your mind is conditioned to protecting you from the reality of how you caused a student/parent problem. Your mind stops short of responsibility. With the support of a communication-skills coach you can trace a problem, a breakdown in communication, back to the exact communication in which you caused it, to when you went unconscious. There are no exceptions. Others always mirror your communication-leadership skills.

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Some teachers are afraid
 to verbally deliver certain
 kinds of important, extremely
 uncomfortable, feedback,
 to the parent and his/her child.
 This keeps everyone producing
 more of the same.



It could be said
that when students and
parents are recreating your
intentions then everyone is awake.
When they go unconscious
your job is to first wake yourself
and then them—through coaching.


". . . illusion of an agreement."

What does "illusion of an agreement" mean?

Throughout the free Communication-Skills Tutorial for Teachers we say that the effectiveness of an agreement is determined by observing the results. A co-created agreement is virtually as good as kept at the time it is made, except for its implementation. With homework, the test of whether you created an agreement, as opposed to doing your imitation of communication—creating the illusion of an agreement—is on the day the homework is due.

Between adults who have a track record of reliability, of honoring their agreements with each other, both know that they have an agreement; seldom is the word agreement  used. In a teacher-student-parent relationship it's the teacher's responsibility to support both the student and the student's parents in honoring agreements. If a teacher lets even one broken agreement go unacknowledged then the teacher has become stuck, and he/she has lost some respect; the teacher only created the illusion of an agreement. Students and parents know when they have co-created an agreement with a teacher; it's usually an experience unlike any with other teachers. The parent has to look and see if they are in fact willing to do what it takes to support the Homework Agreement. The very term Homework Agreement becomes a part of everyone's support language.

It is important to keep in mind that education majors are not taught how to create agreements. They are not taught how to communicate with a student and his/her parents in a way that co-creates an agreement for homework to be done to the teacher's satisfaction each and every day.

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For the purpose of
the tutorial
 we say that an agreement is
 one that is kept.




If a teacher lets even one
broken agreement go
unacknowledged then the
teacher has become stuck,
and they have lost
some respect.


Here's some of the content of an Agreement-Creating Curriculum:

  • Creating agreements that work (notice it does not say, learning about . . ., or, introduced to . . . ).  

  • Supporting others in honoring their agreements.  

  • Acknowledging broken agreements and creating/recreating new ones.  

  • Acknowledging (getting) the anger that often gets triggered when you are supporting someone in honoring an agreement.

The above course requires a total of 16-hours class time and continual coaching-monitoring thereafter—for life—by a communication-skills coach. The classes can be two 8-hour sessions, or four 4-hour sessions (the principal and the superintendent of a school must attend). Prerequisite: School System Communication Workshop

Because agreement-making skills are missing from an education major's speech-communication curriculum, most teachers do their imitation of communication, to include creating the illusion of agreements. The result is that a teacher unconsciously sets it up for a parent to not honor the imitation agreements. The parent then unconsciously thwarts the teacher by sending their child to school without the homework done.

This way of communicating is irresponsible and unethical. It continues to have less-than-desirable results nationwide.

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Here's part of an












  . . . a teacher unconsciously
sets it up for a parent
to not honor the
the imitation agreements.


". . . becoming vs. being a teacher."

There are teachers and there are education majors (those in the process of becoming teachers).

A teacher, having confronted and being willing to acknowledge and let go of his/her ego at any moment, will ask a communication skills coach, "What am I doing or not doing that's producing this undesirable result?"

An education major (someone in the process of becoming a teacher) will continue trying, using their own home-made communication model, doing what we refer to as an imitation of communication. Their ego will not allow them to ask for help. A predictable percentage of their students will not learn the subject matter.

Learn here meaning:

  • Most cannot balance a checkbook.

  • Most cannot compute the better values when grocery shopping.

  • A significant percentage require remedial reading/comprehension courses during their freshman year in college.

  • Most cannot explain why a supposedly honest responsible Senator will vote for a bill that contains obvious "pork barrel" expenditures.

  • Few can draw a map showing the 50 states.

  • Few know the costs of having and raising a child.

  • Few know how to file their income tax.

Most will agree these are basic subjects for citizens. 

A teacher knows that when a student does sloppy work the student is covertly communicating something. The student is also checking to see if the teacher is awake and worthy of the extra effort it would take to do neat complete work all the time. Allowed to get away with sloppy work, respect is lost. Poor penmanship can indicate that the penmanship teacher didn't do complete work. Each student, at the beginning of each new school year, needs to be given a penmanship test to determine if in fact they have mastered legible penmanship. If they fail the test they need to be referred to the penmanship teacher for remedial penmanship classes. All teachers must support the success of the penmanship teacher else they too will be unconsciously thwarted and sabotaged.

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A teacher must support the
success of the penmanship
teacher else they too will
be unconsciously thwarted
and sabotaged.

Talking vs. communication

It works to make a distinction between talking and communicating*.

With talking unwanted problems persist.

With talking an education major will report to a parent that their child is not doing his/her homework. Both will create the illusion of an agreement, ostensibly in support of the child doing their home work on time and neatly. Each walk away from the interaction honestly and sincerely believing that communication took place. The child performs well for a few days and regresses.

Few "C" students rise to "A" students when an education major is stuck talking. Once a teacher has experienced the difference between talking and communication they eventually have no choice but to communicate.

It has yet become the norm for an education major, who is failing to get into communication with a student and his/her parents, to ask for support from a communication skills coach. Most education majors simply have no choice but to keep trying to make their communication model work—it's much the same behavior with men who arrogantly refuse to stop and ask for directions when driving; what's worse is they invalidate their spouse who made the suggestion to stop and ask for directions. Worse yet, the spouse had no intention for communication to take place, she simply adds "being ignore/not valued" to her list of dissatisfactions; the "suggestion" was in fact a setup.

When a teacher gets into communication with a parent the source of the problem is identified. Agreements are co-created and the student's performance improves remarkably. There are no exceptions to this phenomena.

When communication takes place the student does his/her homework to everyone's satisfaction.

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Most teachers simply
 have no choice
 but to keep trying to make
 their communication model work




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Free Observing-Coaching Session

Teachers in the Hilo area (Big Island of Hawaii) may request a free coaching session. The session consists of the coach (announced to students as a "friend") sitting quietly in the back of the classroom observing (no note-taking or laptop PC) in one of your classes and a private three-hour coaching session on the school grounds later the same day. —Kerry

Appointment Request Form:

Enter your name, school, classes you teach, number of years you've been teaching, and your email address. Include three best class-times and days for you. I will select one and reply within 48 hours—Kerry.

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For example:

1st choice: Monday, 6/4/10, 9:00 a.m. - 9:50 a.m. geography class.
2nd choice: Tuesday, 6/5/10, 9:00 a.m. - 9:50 a.m. geography class.
3rd choice: Thursday, 6/7/10, 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. math class.

I'd like my three-hour coaching session at 3 p.m. all three days.