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Talk About Teaching!

Talk About Teaching!
Leading Professional Conversations

Edited by:

160 pages | Corwin
This breakthrough work helpsáschool leaders understand the value and power of informal conversations with instructors to promote teacher learning, improve classroom teaching, and increase learner achievement. Administrators will find 'mental maps' and practical tools to promote meaningful professional conversations about instructional practice. After the Classroom Walkthrough:Explains the critical function of informal professional conversations in supporting ongoing teacher learningExplores the interaction of power and leadership in schoolsOutlines the conversation skills needed by school leaders to conduct these pivotal conversationsProvides guidance for initiating and leading professional conversations
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



"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."

Carol Ann Tomlinson, Parish Professor and Chair of Educational Leadership, Foundations, and Policy
University of Virginia

"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."

James Raths, Professor of Education
University of Delaware

"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."

Bena Kallick, Educational Consultant

"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."

John E. Deasy, Superintendent
Prince George's County School District, MD

"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."

Arthur L. Costa, Professor Emeritus
California State University, Sacramento

"Instructional leadership is totally dependent on the 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."

Daniel C. Page, Manager of Professional Development and Secondary Education
North Penn School District, Lansdale, PA

"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."

Joan Weber, Assistant Superintendent for Personnel & Administrative Services
Scarsdale Public Schools, NY

Preview this book

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1

Charlotte F. Danielson

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... More About Author

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