Prof. Rachel Lofthouse: Master Class

Better conversations for supporting teachers in enquiry-based professional development

ITTE and CPD is as subject to fads as any form of teaching and learning. Approaches such as action research, instructional coaching, disciplined enquiry and lesson study fade in and out of favour. When they gain traction in schools and partnerships it is often because they generate new and productive opportunities for professional conversations.  When they fizzle out not only do our

ITTE and CPD is as opportunities for dialogue reduce but the chance to refine our own and others’ skills of professional conversation decline too.  Time is too often against us as urgent priorities change and workload inflates.

As teacher educators working in both schools and universities we are in a privileged position to engage teachers at a range of career stages in professional conversations. We also create routines and structures to support teacher development that can be enhanced through better conversations. This master class will explore the relationships between enquiry, dialogue and professional learning. We will adopt a practical stance throughout; one in which the conversations in the room will bring our learning alive. 

We will recognise some of the contemporary and age-old dilemmas facing teachers and student teachers; curriculum development, pedagogic practice and inclusion. Our focus will be developing our own understanding and skills for generating curiosity, posing questions, encouraging investigation, enhancing analysis and enabling informed decisions to help teachers learn through engaging with their dilemmas. We will draw on examples such as lesson study, coaching, mentoring and collaborative teacher communities.  The objective is to understand how better conversations form a quality component of these enquiry practices. We will learn through participation, drawing on peer insights and research evidence.

Better conversations are essential, they make good use of precious time, they become opportunities for taking broad principles or evidence from research and contextualising them in the real world of schools, and they build supportive professional relationships. This masterclass will build on the work of CollectivED; Centre for Mentoring, Coaching & Professional Learning, Carnegie School of Education at Leeds Beckett University.

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