Talk for Teaching

This is a blog reviewing the mains themes of the excellent book written by @PaulGarvey4 on Talk for teaching and implications for me in the future.


I’ve been personally a lot more active on twitter over the last 6 months or so and have moved from lucking to engaging in some conversations. I still hover over the reply button when thinking of engaging but am slowly building that confidence. Paul is a very interesting tweeter as he certainly engages and has given my own timeline some balance. When Paul tweeted that his book was available on Amazon Unlimited I took the leap immediately.

I don’t think I’ll ever have a fixed idea of how teaching should look like in the classroom as i have seen so many different methods used with success but love twitter for challenging my thinking every day.

Using my own learning from @olicav i have read the book and discuss four key areas in the book. If you are looking at finding out more about sketch notes and the process behind this the blog is here.


Paul talks about the need to move away from Continual Professional Development (CPD) to Personal Professional Development. This is about giving individual staff the opportunities to drive their own improvement. Twitter’s use in education has massive potential to developing individuals and best of all it’s free! How many times in the school year do you personally observe staff in other classrooms? I know that I don’t anywhere near enough!

The book also encourages the use of research and meta-analyses (EEF, Hattie etc..) where they are looking at different development areas and their effect size or impact. I like that the book does not recommend a certain style or golden bullet and repeatedly uses quotes and research from other educators that state that specific principles/ideas can work in some areas and how they are implemented and used are key to their success. I also like the Dylan William quote about when staff personally decide to develop a certain route they find a way to “make it work”.

The next section will discuss one area to give staff the opportunities to develop their own practice. The key to the concept of PPD is give staff the ‘sparks’ to be encouraged to develop their own practice and be involved in their own professional learning.

Lesson Visits

I am excited about trying some of the concepts on lesson visits particularly an idea of taking no notes or a pen into the classroom! When I read this I immediately thought well how can I remember what I have just seen? This then ties into another idea in the book which encourages multiple staff doing the visits together and finding appropriate times to discuss what is happening in the lesson whilst the lesson is taking place, including the teacher if there is an appropriate time in the lesson.

The book emphasises the need for establishing working protocols with this to ensure that everyone knows how this can work well. It’s important that time is planned in the school calendar so staff are given the opportunity and Paul has also involved TAs and Governors successfully in this process. I really like the idea of the freedom of talking in lesson instead of note taking as the efficiency of this.

The book has a section which discusses the different approaches to learning Directed Instruction vs Co-operative Learning, Behaviourism vs Constructivism and explains that all can work in the classroom. I really liked this as in my own teaching i have seen different things work in different contexts at times it can be topic specific.

Collective Intelligence

If you asked staff in your school – “How often do you observe other staff teaching?”. Some might say “lots”, “some” or “never”. The book makes an interesting point about how SLT generally will be the ones which observe more teaching than anyone else but have the least teaching contact time to try/embed ideas that they have seen.

Teaching for more than ten years I think about all the staff that I knew were great practitioners but how often did I see their craft particularly in other subjects? In some cases I have built a mental picture of how they deliver and plan based on conversations I had with them at lunch/break or colleagues informed me.

It is the easiest thing to put at the bottom of the job list and i know I must make more time to have those conversations in lessons and give myself more opportunities to learn from the collective intelligence that exist in the schools i have been fortunate to work in.


Paul talks openly in the book about his own career path and his experiences and the key to everything being about the relationships that you create with colleagues and students. I have read this previously but it is true that we ‘Make the weather’ be it in the classroom/staffroom or as a leader and the culture we encourage is the foundation to everything that we can achieve.

The book has really challenged some of my pre-conceived thoughts about lessons observation and the way we can learn from each other and look forward to trailing some of these ideas out.

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