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  • Nadia Ballantine & Carol Lynch

Shifting The Talk



Reflecting back on our initial thoughts on Shifting the Talk from 2019, we would like to thank those schools that have contributed to our learning in this area.

We have explored the practicalities of how we can shift the focus of teacher talk from casual, informal conversations to intentional, productive, improvement-focused talk.

We want to share with you our insights, the experiences of one school & some practical tools for you to use.

Now what do we know?

  • By focusing on shifting the talk you can shape the culture of your team &/or organisation

  • We need an awareness of our listening behaviours

  • Structures & tools help conversations to be purposeful, efficient & to the point, & can also support us to ‘park’ our unproductive listening behaviours

  • Teams that spend time developing & defining the structures, tools & types of talk they are going to engage in, are building internal capability & empowering others to talk with people with confidence

  • Use of tools allows for more effective problem solving

  • Scripting is a valuable tool for:

  • Providing purpose

  • Building confidence to open dialogue

  • Ensuring one can be intentional about conversations

  • Ensuring conversations stay within the intended purpose

  • Identifying what type of conversation might be needed


CASE STUDY -Ruahine School

What was happening?

Leaders had general concern about the depth of challenging conversations with each other. There were positive relationships between leaders but potentially a 'culture of nice' which prevented them from always being fully honest & engaging in healthy conflict.


What did they try?

With support, leaders collaboratively wrote scripts which they committed to using with each other to frame conversations.


What happened?

Conversations went well & they weren’t as challenging as initially anticipated.


Example of leaders script


We offer several tools for you to try.



We’d like to continue to encourage you to ‘shift the talk’ in 2020 & would like to sincerely thank Ruahine School leaders for allowing us to share an example of their work.

Carol & Nadia