Art of good conversation

16th June 2006 at 01:00
Mike Kent (TES Friday, June 2) lambasts the General Teaching Council for its leaflet about "learning conversation", saying teachers have always "discussed, debated and argued". According to the hundreds of studies of continuing professional development for teachers and students that we have analysed, he is missing some key points.

Not all conversation in CPD is linked with positive outcomes for teachers and pupils. Crucially, teachers talking to each other to enhance their practice need to do three things. They need to root their conversation in evidence from classrooms; focus it on sustained efforts to implement new approaches and adapt them to their own context; and, ensure that conversations extend beyond what teachers and learners do to look at why things work and beliefs about students' learning.

While good schools and teachers do provide support for conversations like this, often through coaching and mentoring contexts, talk that tackles all three bases is much less common than you'd think. It's particularly rare at CPD events, where most of the conversation is dominated by presentations by pundits.

Where you do find it is in the Teacher Learning Academy, an initiative for supporting and recognising teachers' commitment to professional development and change - run by the GTC.

Philippa Cordingley

Chief executive

Centre for the Use of Research Evidence in Education (Curee)

4 Copthall House

Station Square, Coventry

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