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Leading Adult Learners


28 Jul

Practising Learning Talk skills: a practical gift

Posted by Joan Dalton

‘How are we going to remember and practise all these skills we’re learning?’ is a common question asked by leaders as we’ve worked to build their capabilities for effective, important conversations.

I often share the story of a wonderful colleague who, working as a senior director with an Australian Department of Education, posted up charts with sentence scaffolds on the wall above her office door.

 ‘People would pop their head in the door to ask a question, or be having a conversation with me, and I’d pause... and look up... they would think I was thinking! In reality I was searching for an appropriate way to respond. Having these sentence starters has been a great way to work on my skills!’

Since consciously practising these skills makes a huge difference to their development, here is a Learning Talk resource I hope you will find of great practical use.

Practical scaffolds for Learning TalkClick image to enlarge

Download PDF version

When Tim Fitzgerald was principal of Fitzroy High School in Melbourne, each of his adult team members kept an early version of this resource visible during their important team meetings. Everybody was practising; everybody learned and developed their skills.

How might you use this resource to practise and further develop your own skills, and those of the people you lead? I’d love you to share your ideas and strategies!


I am sharing this next Tuesday with a group of impact coaches – very helpful;

Posted by helyn strokowsky on July 19, 2018

Thank you for sharing the practical scaffold – it’s going above my desk and on our meeting wall. Your blog made me smile :)

Posted by Jane on August 07, 2016

Hi Joan
Thank you for taking the time to blog as this is a great way to continue to explore ideas around the use of language in an educational context.

Posted by Brian Gower on August 02, 2016

Thanks Joan for taking on the blogging world as it is a great way to provide ongoing professional learning. As a leadership team each time we meet we use our learning talk covenant which helps us top focus and work on an agreed aspect. After the meeting a team member provides us with some data and feedback on how we applied that aspect. This allows us to be conscious of our language and behaviour.

Posted by Brian Gower on August 02, 2016

A timely reminder that takes me back to the work you did witht the leadership team. I am still using many of the new learnings and strategies shared with us dring that time. I have lost count of the number of school leadership teams I have used the your ideas about discussion and dialogue and ways to develop effective leadesrhip teams.
Thank you

Posted by Gayle McIlraith on July 31, 2016

So glad to see your focus on these important social capabilities Joan – way to go! And thanks for the poster – very useful

Posted by Rosemary Hipkins on July 30, 2016

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