In theory, all you need to host a Schoolmarm Salon is a gathering of people interested in discussing education. However, there are few tools you might find helpful in creating a space that is welcoming and respectful. Unless otherwise noted, all resources are shared with a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license. Please reach out to if you have any questions.

Before the Salon

Familiarize yourself with the history of salons and the purpose they serve. You’ll likely want to start by inviting friends – which is wonderful – but consider inviting people you know have a different perspective on education. Some salon hosts open their homes, others try to find a publicly-accessible outdoor space. The where is up to you. As the host, you’ll be responsible for setting the tone. Some of the things you may want to consider having available during the salon include:

  • copies of discussion protocols such as those on the NSRF website such as The Dyad, The Issaquah Protocol, or The Multiple Perspectives Protocol. These are most helpful if there are only a few participants or to explore nuances among people who share similar big picture opinions.
  • white boards and markers to put on tables with conversation prompts such as “We’re wondering about…”, “I’d like to talk about ….”, or “We’re discussing…” These do not have to be completed before people start talking – rather people can start talking, see where the conversation goes and then summarize the theme so others can join them if they’d like.
  • food and/or drinks to provide another opportunity for people to strike up conversations.
  • host gifts for those who attend as a thank you for their time.

Setting the Tone

There are three things you want to stress as guests arrive. Introductions, topic, and the nature of the discussions.

Consider passing this bookmark out to guests as they arrive. Printing them on stiff cardstock and having pens available makes it easier for participants to take notes and names on the back of the bookmark if it’s left blank.

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Picture of part of a bookmark

Hanging this etiquette poster where guests can see it as they arrive provides more context about what’s expected and explains the bookmark in more detail.

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You’re also welcome to download this poster on the history of salons and the history of “schoolmarm” to provide a topic of conversation!

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You may also find this poster of additional resources and recommendations around being an active listener helpful. Leaving post-its and pens near the poster can encourage guests to leave additional recommendations.

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