Talk About Teaching!: Leading Professional Conversations

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Help teachers improve their practice by holding rewarding professional conversations!

This breakthrough work from renowned educator Charlotte Danielson helps school leaders understand the value of reflective, informal professional conversations in promoting a positive environment of inquiry, support, and teacher development. Organized around the “big ideas” of successful teaching, this guidebook:

  • Explains the critical function of informal professional conversations in ongoing teacher learning
  • Explores the interaction of power and leadership in schools
  • Outlines the conversation skills that school leaders need to initiate and engage in successful conversations
  • Includes “mental maps,” sample topics, and conversation activities

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Editorial Reviews

Carol Ann Tomlinson
"This is a rare educational book that captures between two covers both the scholarship and the soul of teaching. It is based on the simple premise that thoughtful conversations can change educational practice—but don’t be fooled into thinking the book is simplistic. It asks leaders to guide those conversations based on their own deep understanding of the art and science of teaching, and it makes explicit and accessible what that means."
James Raths
"Includes many insights and techniques for helping teachers learn about their profession and their practices. This seminal text serves as an introduction to conversations that will prompt teachers to better understand what they are doing in the classroom."
Bena Kallick
"Danielson’s work is right on target. She addresses how to make certain that teachers are coaching one another, sharing practices, and assuming the role of leadership in schools across the country. This book is a wonderful companion to her work on teacher evaluation."
John E. Deasy
"Danielson's book is groundbreaking work on the professional conversations that improve teacher learning. She expertly conveys the value of these conversations in challenging teachers to think in new ways about their work. This tour de force is a blueprint for improving practice and is required reading for all educational leaders."
Arthur L. Costa
"The continuous enhancement of instruction is the most critical role for any school administrator. This valuable book helps educational leaders better understand and become more skillful in conducting conversations about the craft of teaching and the science of learning. In time and with practice, more effective instruction will result and benefits to students' learning will accrue."
Daniel C. Page
"Instructional leadership is totally dependent onthe fine art of successful communication. Danielson has provided a tool through which principals and teachers can participate in purposeful exchanges to support valued learning. Through her guidance, conversations can support reflections, relationships, and a brand new culture."
Joan Weber
"An interesting and unique approach to enhancing dialogue about reflective practice. This book stimulates fresh thinking about teaching and leadership that will have positive effects on the classroom. As always, Charlotte Danielson has much to contribute to the dialogue on education."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412941402
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 1/8/2009
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Charlotte Danielson, a former economist, is an internationally-recognized expert in the area of teacher effectiveness, specializing in the design of teacher evaluation systems that, while ensuring teacher quality, also promote professional learning. She advises State Education Departments and National Ministries and Departments of Education, both in the United States and overseas. She is in demand as a keynote speaker at national and international conferences, and as a policy consultant to legislatures and administrative bodies.

Ms Danielson is a graduate of Cornell University (history), Oxford University (philosophy, politics, and economics) and Rutgers University (educational administration and supervision.) She has taught at all levels, kindergarten through university), and has worked as a curriculum director and staff development director, and is the founder of The Danielson Group. Her Framework for Teaching has become the most widely-used definition of teaching in the United States, and has been adopted as the single model, or one of several approved models, in over 20 states.

Ms. Danielson's many publications range from defining good teaching ( "Enhancing Professional Practice: a framework for teaching," 2007), to organizing schools for student success ( "Enhancing Student Achievement: a framework for school improvement," 2002), to teacher leadership ( "Teacher Leadership that Strengthens the Profession," 2006), to professional conversations ( "Talk about Teaching! Conducting Professional Conversations," 2009), to numerous practical instruments and training programs (both onsite and online) to assist practitioners in implementing her ideas.

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Table of Contents

About the Author
1. Why Professional Conversation?
The Imperative for Improvement in Teaching
The Nature of Teacher Learning
Promoting Professional Learning Through Conversation
Assumptions Underlying Professional Conversations
2. Power and Leadership in Schools
The Reality of Power
Reconciling Power and Leadership
3. The Big Ideas That Shape Professional Conversations
What Constitutes Important Learning?
What Causes Learning?
How Are Students Motivated?
The Merging of All These Ideas
4. The Topics for Conversations
Power, Leadership, and the “Big Ideas”
Clarity of Purpose
Rigorous Learning Tasks and Assignments
High Levels of Energy and Student Engagement
A Safe and Challenging Environment
Smooth Organization and Management
Implementation of School or District Initiatives
5. Conversation Skills
Setting the Tone for Conversation
Linguistic Skills
6. Informal Professional Conversations
Settings for Professional Conversations
Coach: Non-Tenured Teacher and a Supervisor
Coach: Tenured Teacher and a Non-Supervisory Colleague
Coach: Tenured Teacher and a Supervisor
7. Implementation Issues
Finding Time for Conversation
Communicating the Purpose
Establishing Trust
Forging Understanding and Consensus on the “Big Ideas”
Elaborating the “Topics for Conversation”
8. Conversation Activities for Implementation
Establishing the Foundation
Communicating the Purpose
Conversation Activity #1: Establishing the Contributors to Student Learning
Conversation Activity #2: The Principal’s Role in Promoting Good Teaching
Establishing Trust
Conversation Activity #1: Identifying an Environment of Poor Levels of Trust
Conversation Activity #2: Creating and Enhancing a Trusting Environment
Conversation Activity #3: Creating an Action Plan for Trust
The Big Ideas: Considering High-Level Learning
Conversation Activity #1: Reflecting on One’s Own Recent Learning
Conversation Activity #2: Thinking About the Changing World
Conversation Activity #3: Ensuring Important Learning
How Do People Learn?
Conversation Activity #1: Summarizing Observations From Personal Experience
Conversation Activity #2: Reflecting on One’s Own Learning
Worthwhile Learning Experiences
Conversation Activity #1: Reflecting on the Characteristics of Children’s Learning
Human Motivation
Conversation Activity #1: Considering Adult Motivation
Conversation Activity #2: Considering Student Motivation
Topics for Conversation
Discussion Questions #1-#6: Considering the Topics for Conversation

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