1st Edition

Better than Best Practice Developing teaching and learning through dialogue

By Adam Lefstein, Julia Snell Copyright 2014
    216 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    216 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Better than Best Practice offers a new way of thinking about classroom practice, professional development, and improving teaching and learning. This companion book and website together offer a selection of rich and realistic video-based case studies, context and narrative, step-by-step guidance through key issues, and commentary and debate from a range of expert contributors. 

    Carefully chosen video clips from primary school literacy lessons show real teachers in a variety of often knotty situations: classroom conversations that take unexpected turns; grappling with assessment; managing disagreements, to name a few. The book explores the educational potential of classroom talk and, in particular, the promise and problems of dialogic pedagogy. 

    With an emphasis on the complexity and ‘messiness’ of teaching, Better than Best Practice considers how to learn from observing and discussing practice in order to develop professional judgment. It offers practical advice on how to organise and facilitate video-based professional development in which teachers share their practice with colleagues in order to learn from one another’s challenges, problems, dilemmas and breakthroughs. 

    This exciting new resource argues that critical discussions of practice, which highlight dilemmas instead of prescribing solutions, help to develop and support thoughtful, flexible, and insightful practitioners: an approach that is better than best practice.

    List of tables and figures  Acknowledgments  Transcription conventions  Section A – Where We’re Coming From  1. Better than Best Practice  2. Towards Dialogic Pedagogy  3. Setting the Scene: Working Towards Dialogue in a London Primary School  Section B – Classroom Episodes Introduction: Practical Suggestions for Engaging with the Episodes  4. Breakthrough to Dialogue? Episode 1. Getting in to Narnia  Commentaries David Reedy, Thinking collectively, backed by evidence  James Cresswell, Art of Education: Balancing Direction and Dialogue  5. Responding to a Pupil Challenge; Episode 2: ‘I don’t really like that, Miss’  Commentaries Robin Alexander, Triumphs and dilemmas of dialogue  Gemma Moss, Writing in the talk  Greg Thompson, A Challenge (?) in the Interest of Dialogue  Laura Hughes, The impact of dialogic teaching techniques – a teacher’s perspective  6. Importing Popular Culture into the Classroom; Episode 3: ‘So we’re going to have X FactorCommentaries Roxy Harris, Writing: Hard Slog, or Engaging and Entertaining?  Janet Maybin, ‘Loads of really good words’  Dennis Kwek, Weaving Popular Culture: Towards Knowledge Building  Laura Hughes, What did I learn at school today?  7. The Teacher’s Role in Classroom Debates; Episodes 4-5 Debating Football  Commentaries Jeff Barrett, Developing Speaking Skills in the Shadow of Written Examinations: A Headteacher's Perspective  Lucy Henning, What Role Is There For Organised Debate In A Literacy Lesson?  Jayne White, Constraints and opportunities  8. Dialogue, Ability and Pupil Identities; Episode 6: ‘What does fear mean?’  Commentaries Mel Cooke, "‘Tightening the knot?’: fear, poetry and testing"  Pie Corbett, "What the discussion of ‘The Owl’ made me wonder"  Jennifer A. Vadeboncoeur and Louai Rahal, "On Practice, On Purpose"  Glenda Moss, "The Complexity of Dialogic Teaching under the Shadow of Standardized Testing"  9. Discussing Pupil Writing in Whole Class Discussion; Episode 7: ‘I think there’s more to it than that’  10. Using Empathy to Understand Character; Episode 8: ‘Tell me what you think as Wilbur’ Section C – Where to Go from Here  11. Continuing the Conversation: Parting Thoughts on Dialogic Pedagogy  12. Do It Yourself: Developing Teaching through Group Discussion of Video Recordings of Practice Methodology Appendix: Pedagogically Oriented Linguistic Ethnographic Micro-analysis


    Adam Lefstein is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Education, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.

    Julia Snell is Lecturer in the Department of Education and Professional Studies, King's College London, UK.