10 tips to collaborative conversations in your staffroom

Encouraging Teacher Conversations

Quick bites of practical insights and exercises for building collaborative expertise in schools through constructive conversations.

Vivienne Neale hosts this podcast with ETC creator Allison PegusAllison Colour AP_Logo_MONO

and selected Educators who will share their experiences with us!

Grab the summary ,listen to the professional conversation on our podcast and ‘blab’ and start a discourse with your colleagues or staff.


Interview with Allison Pegus

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And Special guest interview with Matt Estermann Twitter_email_link_logomatt estermann

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One way to apply the reverse thinking strategy

Get teachers talking about contemporary research frameworks, school contexts and their own beliefs and practices. This is a walk through of one way to apply the reverse thinking strategy using expert teacher mind frames.

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Creating Learning Environments -Working from the known to the new.

Validate teacher judgement. Relieve the impression that we are continually responding to ‘new successful ideas’. Look at what we already know through evidence and what we currently do – as the context for building teacher judgement.

This conversation starter tackles critical ways by which to examine new evidence through explicit association, assimilation and contesting of ideas in collaborative models.

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Marzano and Pickering: 4 Essential Questions About Engagement.

A teacher conversation and classroom ready strategy for understanding the questions:

How do I feel?     Am I interested?     Is it important?     Can I do It?


Behaviour reflects needs.

A practical co-operative conversation and simple action research for all teachers working with cohort of students. This can also become a catalyst for longer team collaborations into student engagement and teacher judgement.


Drop in for 5.

Collaborative feedback for teachers.

Fun and relatively non-threatening 5-minute observations model conducted between pairs or small groups. Develops shared understanding and defines constructive feedback as a collaborative practice.


Take The Autobahn

We know that the emotional brain has the power to open or close access to learning and memory. How do we use the affective route to teach the intellect? How do we put the ‘hook’ into learning culture? Great staff conversation with practical applications for student engagement.


Student engagement and ‘no hands up’ in practice.

How does it work? What do I need to do to scaffold? A practical conversation in experiential (beta) mode. How does it feel for the learner? How might you start or experiment?


Scaling up success and facilitating innovation.

A practical introduction to the ‘beta’ mode concept of school teams. Transfers directly to classroom use. Powerful way to encourage innovation, action and reflection.


Collaborative conversations for PD planning

Teacher’s value professional conversations that build their expertise and enhance their students’ learning. Focus the conversation by looking at your student data. Question-storming generates short and long term ideas for exploration and beats a PMI hands down for creativity


What are we doing to celebrate our work?

End of term problem-based project. Validate teacher judgement and build collaborative expertise whilst solving a genuine school need. This is an authentic task for school staff professional learning and fun for the end of the year or the end of the term. Great piece of super-modelling of engagement, collaborative expertise, fun, teamwork and difference.

Vivienne Neale Twitter_email_link_logo


Allison Pegus ETC_dot_limeGreenlinkedTwitter_email_link_logo

Allison Colour


What is a knowledge worker?


Have you ever thought what the word’ teacher’ really means?

Is it appropriate in the 21st century?

Having one ‘teacher’ in the room assumes transmission. ‘I’m in charge’ ‘I’m the one that knows.’ ‘I am going to teach you.’

Anyone working in classrooms today knows it is highly unlikely the person in charge of a learning group is going to have all the answers. In a world where students have the capacity to learn any place and any time the relationship has changed. So should conventional teaching be abandoned, or just tweaked? Should we now see ourselves as knowledge workers?

Anita with kids on floor

― Jim HensonIt’s Not Easy Being Green: And Other Things to Consider


There was a time for many students where the teacher was the only person with the information. For many that had no access to books outside of schools or libraries, teachers were vital for knowledge transmission.

― Margaret Mead

However, with life being transformed at a pace the human race has never experienced, this surely requires some revision. Why? It’s simple: if we invest in curricular and make decisions that are set in stone, by the time we bring these tablets down from the mountain they will be out of date. Flexibility and the ability to review, reappraise and reflect at speed, must surely be the role of knowledge workers? After all the concept of ‘teaching’ is almost an anachronism.


“Wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else … Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.”
― Hermann HesseSiddhartha


Consider what is now core knowledge? Can you truly answer that? Is the advice you gave to students six months ago still appropriate? Some may well be relevant, but how we frame questions, perspectives and our own narrative arch is in a constant state of flux. That’s why being a knowledge worker that constantly questions the whole notion of epistemologies is a more appropriate model for the here and now.

“Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.”
― Aristotle

We are all know the problem with epistemologies is that the moment we create these systems of knowledge they solidify. They often lose their ability for flexibility and end up excluding as much as they include. We can’t keep ‘teaching just in case’. Students want to learn, apply, discuss and teach one another ‘just in time’ This ‘need to know now’ culture must fuel wholesale and dramatic transformations in two, three or four way knowledge transmission.

Teachers PL FFPS-1 May2015

The frightening, challenging and exciting aspect of all of this is: we are all teachers and learners. So isn’t it time we chose a term that reflects this flexible and creative relationship and consign the conventional teaching model to a museum?

Should we see the profession as knowledge workers and knowledge designers? Or is this just a storm in a teacup?

images   Written by Vivienne Neale Twitter_email_link_logo

Vivienne has an extensive educational track record having begun teaching in 1983 and has written for the UK’s Independent newspaper and the world famous TES. In addition she has published articles and books and been passionate about technology in the classroom over the past 15 years. She has made the creative leap from full time education professional to social media and digital marketing specialist.

AC Teach PClg-2 2013 edited resized Featuring Anita Chin  facebook

Anita has a passion for hands-on activities that engage learners of all ages. She strives to model practical ideas for differentiating instruction and to support school leaders and classroom teachers with curriculum implementation. With over 20 years experience as an educator across Australia and the USA, she currently runs her own Mathematics Education Consultancy company. She has been both a secondary mathematics teacher as well as a primary and middle years consultant with the NSW DET in Sydney. Anita has conducted research into the use of concrete materials to teach Number and Algebra concepts in the Middle Years 5-9 and holds a MEd in Teaching and Curriculum Studies. Whilst teaching pre-service teachers at the University of Sydney she was nominated for a Teaching Excellence Award.

Anita’s whole school/faculty approach to providing tailored on-site professional learning across Australia K-10 encompasses in-class demonstration lessons, workshops for teachers and parents, small team curriculum planning meetings and long-term project work. In conjunction with TTA, she developed an innovative blended model of month-by-month PL for whole schools or clusters of Primary schools that enables communities of practice to learn, implement, reflect and share their knowledge for up to a six-month period of time.

Anita’s workshops and online courses are designed to be highly engaging, practical, thought provoking and relevant to current teaching practices and curriculum. She is a highly recognised speaker at both national and state mathematics conferences in Australia.