Carnegie Education

CollectivED ‘Let’s Talk About…Better Professional Conversations ’

In lieu of our planned CollectivED / GCI conference in June (now rescheduled for November 9th) we are hosting a new webinar series drawing on the conference themes of Better professional conversations; enhancing education one discussion at a time.
Student teachers in the classroom

Each webinar will be an evening of insights and discussion chaired by Rachel Lofthouse. There will be five ‘hosts’ who will each make a short contribution. This will be followed by a discussion in which the webinar participants can pose questions and comments online and / or contribute in person.

Tuesday June 2nd 7-8.30pm

During this first webinar our attention will be on empowering a teaching profession to challenge the status quo. Our hosts will be Hannah Wilson @ethical_leader, Lisa Taylor @lisaceritaylor, Suzanne Culshaw @SuzanneCulshaw, Kerry Jordan-Daus @kerryjordandaus and Jess Mahdavi-Gladwell @drjessm.

Lisa will be considering the question ‘Has teaching become such a compliant profession that we only tinker at the edges rather than engage in truly disruptive professional conversations?’ She will reflect on the prediction made by Bottery and Wright (2000)  that teaching would become a ‘directed profession’, where national policy prescribes what counts as teacher knowledge, and where teacher identity is based on achieving compliance and conformity.  She hopes to challenge this discourse of compliance and ‘certainty’ in favour of questions that are worth asking. With a focus on empowerment Kerry will discuss ‘How do we take the F word out of coaching (FEAR)?’ She will draw parallels with bell hooks 1994 statement that ‘In my classrooms, I do not expect students to take any risks that I would not take, to share in any way that I would not share’.  A key consideration will be the extent to which performativity cultures that professionals in schools are exposed to make talking about difficulties even more difficult?  Suzanne will ask ‘What can we learn from talking openly about struggling?’ based on her research which demonstrated that struggling is a complex phenomenon which can be experienced by teachers and leaders at all stages of their careers and that struggling is a temporary fractured state with a range of embodied and emotional dimensions.  Hannah will respond to the question “How can we diversify our schools?” by sharing contextual data including recruitment and retention data and pay gap data, as well as pen portraits of some diverse leaders and their career trajectories. This will provide an opportunity to reflect on unconscious bias and consider the importance of how we educate and inform our recruiters into the profession. Finally, in this webinar Jess will ask ‘How are professional mentoring / coaching relationships valuable to staff dealing with challenging situations involving distressed children?’ She will explore the role of better conversations, especially when developing practice when dealing with tricky situations or when dealing with safeguarding. Her experience demonstrates that as well as learning to ‘do better’ mentoring and supervisory relationships can support staff in the aftermath of challenging situations.  

Tuesday June 16th 7-8.30pm

Our second webinar focuses on building professional cultures for teachers to thrive in with hosts Margaret Barr @MargaretBarr1, Bethan Hindley @bethanhindley, Lizana Oberholzer @LO_EduforAll, Joanne Miles @JoanneMiles2 and Steve Hoey @shoey1968. 

A critical role for leaders is to build educational cultures that support wellbeing, and important questions are now being asked about tensions in doing so in performative cultures.  During this webinar Bethan will consider ‘How can school leaders create conditions for better professional conversations to take place?’ Her focus will be supporting leaders to think about what they can do to create a culture in their school or organisation where better professional conversations can take place. Part of this culture is about getting it right for new teachers and Lizana will explore ‘How can coaching and mentoring be used as a change agent to develop early career teachers?’ She will share how a range of strategies such as values frameworks, principal frameworks, coaching and mentoring cards and goal setting exercises can be used to generate discussions to help unlock ideas and conversations.  Joanne will focus on the conversations that teachers have before and after lesson observations which can play an important role in reflection, professional learning and ownership of their development, by responding to the question, How can we enhance the quality and depth of reflection around lesson observations by using coaching conversations?’ Steve will consider the question ‘How can you have better conversations with your headteacher/line manager / boss / mentor?’ Steve recognises that in schools people sometimes struggle to have effective conversations with their boss, line-manager or mentor.  He will explore how you can have better professional conversations with colleagues which can have more impact and allow you to give more rather than just constantly be given to. Finally, in this webinar, Margaret will discuss feedback practices by considering ‘How can we build a feedback culture through professional conversations that promote wellbeing alongside improved performance?’  Her proposition is that feedback that is “heard” and accepted can lead to the receiver identifying a goal on which they can be coached.  

Tuesday June 30th 7-8.30pm

Our final webinar in this series will focus on creating richer educational relationships through better conversations.  Our hosts will be Jasmine Miller @CoachJasmine, Narinder Gill @NarinderGill01, Lou Mycroft and Kay Sidebottom @LouMycroft @KaySocLearn, Chris Eastabrook @chriseastabrook and Kathyrn Morgan @KLMorgan_2.

In this webinar we will discuss how many of the relationships lived out in educational contexts can be enhanced by better conversations. Kathyrn recognises that the conversations that we have are the relationship, yet far too often, we don’t have the types of conversations that really matter. In a work setting and particularly in schools, snatched, task-orientated conversations breed misunderstandings and damage trust. Kathryn will focus on ‘Conversations that count: how do you have conversations that enrich relationships and lead to improvement?  and will draw on her ‘Fierce Conversations’ coaching practice. Narinder will consider ‘How can coaching be used as a core leadership intervention to maximise potential, influence the ethical climate and optimise well-being and resilience?’ and will reflect the fact that in a time of rapid change and increased pressures, leaders are challenged to have the right skills, values and behaviours to ensure the best possible outcomes. Jasmine will also reflect on the potential of coaching by asking ‘How coaching skills for parents can develop positive relationships and enhance outcomes for children and young people?’. Her concern is that some parent’s experiences of education are negative and will discuss how to engage parents in their children’s schooling and their own learning and development through coaching. Chris will consider ‘How can environment enhance professional conversations? He will reflect that the outdoor environment gives a shared challenge and language, it also acts as a leveller between social hierarchies, balancing the power in conversations and, the informal nature gives honest and insightful conversations. Lou and Kay will close the session with a focus on ‘How can The Thinking Environment create better professional conversations?’ They will discuss the Ten Components of the Thinking Environment and why it is of value in educational contexts. 

Please join in

The sessions will be a great way to think proactively about our future priorities and roles in schools as we start to rebuild our educational communities with professionals making expert decisions in complex situations. I hope that you will join us. You can watch and listen, you can pose questions and you can offer insights.  Each of the webinars provides an opportunity to engage critically with actionable change.  It is possible for each of us to make a difference to education through the conversations that we have with others.  

You can book a place on these free CollectivED webinars here.

Professor Rachel Lofthouse

Professor / Carnegie School Of Education

Rachel Lofthouse is Professor of Teacher Education in the Carnegie School of Education. She has a specific research interest in professional learning, exploring how teachers learn and how they can be supported to put that learning into practice.

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