Opening up thinking about education today for tomorrow - Imagining possibilities and solutions

Monday, February 04, 2008

Disciplined dialogue to build capacity

I spent the last 2 weeks working with the Team Leaders and Teaching Educators who are part of the team with whom I work. Several of the team members were new.

One thing that struck me from the two weeks was the importance of talk in getting to know each other and in developing leadership. The talk allowed for us to get insights into how each person thinks about teaching and learning, the language we use to describe our thinking and our theories of learning.

At the recent ICSEI conference
I attended a session on Teacher Leadership conducted by John MacBeath from the Leadership for Learning network. The session identified the need to move from professional discussions (conversations that dissect and pull apart) to disciplined dialogue (conversations that flow through developing thinking and ideas).

Disciplined dialogue takes time but it is essential for effective distribution of leadership and the building of capacity in the profession of teaching. Engaging in disciplined dialogue is hard work.

Disciplined dialogue assists in developing a shared language for talking about learning. The conversations reflected understandings held by others. They allowed for theories of learning to be surfaced and for assumptions to be tested.

For me it reinforced the importance of professional talk about teaching and learning undertaken in a focused and disciplined way.

Engaing in disciplined dialogue takes time. Too often time is not given to conversations as time is viewed as a something to be consumed, rather than as an investment for the future.

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