Leading Professional Conversations

10 "Take-aways"

Talk About Teaching

I recently read Talk About Teaching: Leading Professional Conversations by Charlotte Danielson. It was a very in-depth look at the big ideas of teaching and the role of instructional leaders in skillfully guiding conversations. There were MANY things that I was able to reflect on while reading this book. However, one of the parts that stood out to me were some techniques on leading professional conversations. Here are some of my take-aways.
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10. Establish Permission

Even if you already have the "power", establish permission anyway. This sets a collaborative tone for the conversation.

9. Use Positive Presuppositions

Example: What patterns have you noticed between the student's behavior and the class activities? This implies that the teacher is already considering the relationship and respects their input.

8. Use Plural Forms

By using plural forms, you are implying that there is more than one answer to be considered. This makes the teacher feel more comfortable as well as implies that there is room for growth and continued consideration.

7. Ask "Would" or "If" Questions

By asking questions that contain "would" or "if" you are prompting the teacher to think creatively and imagine other possibilities. This promotes and models use of a growth mindset and risk-taking.

6. Probing

The simplest types of probing are just - "tell me more about that" or providing silence/wait time. Encourage continued deeper thinking.

5. Paraphrase, Acknowledge, and/or Clarify

While these are three different techniques - they all serve the same purpose: communicating that you are actively listening, interested in what is being said, and respectful of their perspective.

4. Shift Downward

During discussion, asking a teacher to think more specifically. This works well as a technique with someone who is thinks big picture or abstractly. Example: I hear that you are trying to close gaps in your struggling learner's progress, what are two action steps that you can take immediately to identify those gaps?

3. Shift Upward

You guessed it. Tho opposite of Shift Downward. Asking an concrete or sequential-thinking educator to consider the bigger picture. Example: You are seeing lots of daily accomplishments with your 3rd period class. Why do you think this is different than your other classes?

2. Promote Analyzation

Ask educators to think in trends, data, patterns, etc. Examples: Which type of learner seems to have the most difficulty with this? Is the pre-assessment data reflective of the post-assessment data?

1. Encourage Metacognition

The goal is to get educators habitually examining their own thinking and reflection. Example: How has your understanding of ____________ evolved throughout this year?