Conversations that matter

by Stephen Myers

This article focuses on the importance of developing trusting and positive relationships in the classroom. It would be useful as a starter for a professional learning group, or for use with teaching staff to help them plan for starting their classes off at the beginning of a semester. It is a short and easy read.

Myers suggests specific and practical ways of starting the first session with a class. He follows up with ideas to continue the momentum throughout the year. He suggests activities for the students to engage in, and is also specific about responses and reactions of teachers.

He clearly knows, respects, and understands adolescents and indicates a range of responses that they may give to his suggested questions and activities. These are followed by constructive ideas for ways to handle situations as they emerge.

This article gives principals, or other senior leaders in the school, an opportunity to participate in leading learning in your school. Myers comments at the start that positive relationships in classrooms are very important, but not the only factor in improving teaching and learning.

Reflective questions

These reflective questions might guide your reading of this article:

  • Spend some time thinking about and discussing with your leadership team ways in which you could use this article as a starter with teaching staff to promote discussion and planning about getting established with classes at the beginning of a term.
  • How would you ensure that this was a trigger for discussion rather than a model to be picked up and followed exactly?
  • Consider how teachers might react to a suggestion that they trial one of the strategies Myers suggests. What sorts of skills, knowledge, and support would teachers need to successfully trial the ideas in their classroom, or as a syndicate or department?

Further reading

Earl, L. & Timperley, H. (2008). Professional Learning Conversations: Challenges in using evidence for improvement. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.


Myers, S. (2008). Conversations That Matter. In Educational Leadership. Vol. 66. No. 1. September.

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