Let’s talk dialogue


Let’s talk dialogue


Education Director Sam Selby explores how new dialogue skills have been transferred from home learning to the classroom.

In our last piece on dialogue, the focus was on feedback from pupils about how dialogue had improved their experience during remote learning, and we shared ideas for moving back into the physical learning space. This time, we have focused on asking questions of our teachers around dialogue. We’ve asked how the remote learning experience has enabled them to create different opportunities for dialogue back in the classroom this term, and how that has also impacted positively on their feedback and marking. 

We’ve gathered highlights from these conversations into a video, a podcast, and two written interviews (below). We chatted with a range of teachers across the age groups, from those teaching Y1 pupils to Y11 and 6th form, to gauge a range of experiences. All are really worth watching and reading to pick up tips, particularly about how technology has facilitated more inclusive learning and changed feedback and marking load for the better, with higher impact.


Julie HeyHoe-Kirkbride, Y2 Teacher: Edenhurst School

S: How did you manage dialogue with younger children during remote learning?

J: We spent as many lessons as possible online with live interaction. Pupils were encouraged to talk to each other and to teachers during the live lessons and pupils were given the same opportunities to contribute and discuss their ideas as they were in school. Most pupils adapted very well to this style of learning and they learned to respect the boundaries and rules of online communication, taking turns and listening to others.

S: How did remote learning enable you to have a more personalised dialogue with your pupils? What was the impact of that, do you think?

J: During remote learning pupils were encouraged to log into the classroom if they wanted to talk to me or needed any support or further explanation of independent work… I felt that this time helped me to target support where it was needed and differentiate accordingly. I was also able to support the children who were needing additional challenges to move forward with their learning. It felt like valuable time that we rarely seem to have in reality when in the classroom. I felt that I got to know my pupils in a different way during this period and had some fantastic conversations about work and the world! 

It was also an opportunity for parents to understand the expectations in Year 2, and to give them a valuable insight into what their pupils do everyday at school!

S: How did you adjust learning and create space for dialogue during remote lessons? 

J: Our lessons were very flexible and dynamic. Sometimes we went off on a tangent and ‘rolled with it’ because it was a great way of learning and engaging with the class. We also had sessions which were based purely on dialogue and interaction between pupils such as small group reading, play rehearsals and PSHE sessions. 

S: How did it change marking and feedback?

J: Marking and feedback were dynamic and adjusted according to the lesson. Some feedback was verbal; other feedback was made in the classroom comments or on pupils’ work such as slide shows using the ‘add comment’ tool. This was especially effective when I was checking and commenting on work ‘live’ while the children were working on their projects. They loved the interaction and seeing the writing magically appear. Many of them then responded to me immediately in writing. The whole class enjoyed responding to comments in the classroom as well, even if it was just to acknowledge what I had said. Pupils then made suggested changes, added additional work or checked their work following the feedback.

S: What tech have you used to create more dialogue?

J: Since March, I have learned to use the tech we have available more effectively. I have been using Kami, Jamboard, and video recordings; creating my own YouTube videos for things such as spelling tests and lessons; using the classroom to set, teach, mark and feedback on work; and used email/ text messages to contact parents in a timely fashion. Parents and children were engaged with dialogue throughout our time away from school. Parents also enjoyed the weekly parent ‘hangout’ as an opportunity to speak about learning and expectations.

S: What have you taken back into your physical classroom around creating more dialogue that you learned from your remote lessons? And what impact has it had?

J: Things seem to have transitioned smoothly back into the classroom. We spend time in each lesson focused on dialogue and encourage all children to contribute and join in with discussions. The majority of children enjoy participation and are keen to join in with every activity. 


Matthew Minister, Director of Studies: Skippers Hill Manor

S: How did you adjust your introductions to lessons to enable pupils to contribute?

M: There was a lot more sharing of information prior to a lesson, which meant that children had a basic understanding of the topic and vocabulary prior to the lesson. Often, we shared one document for all children to write their ideas on to aid a discussion. 

S: How did you adjust learning and create space for dialogue during remote lessons?

M: The use of video recordings was beneficial for all children and paired ‘hangouts’ to which I was invited allowed me to drop in to conversations. Learning fed into independent tasks for the children to complete in the afternoon, which allowed further dialogue opportunities in ‘mentor’ sessions. We attempted as much as possible to share videos explaining the lesson, either created by staff here or alternative sources (such as documentaries) which encouraged dialogue.

S: How did it change marking and feedback?

M: Personalised feedback for specific learning points and the use of JamBoad made feedback beneficial for the children. Marking was more feedback-based and ‘in the moment’, and this has continued in the classroom.

S: What tech have you used to create more dialogue?

M: We used JamBoard a lot and the sharing capacity of the Google Platform (for teachers and children) encouraged dialogue.

S: What have you taken back into your physical classroom around creating more dialogue that you learned from your remote lessons? And what impact has it had?

M: We have encouraged and developed the management of Google Classroom to ensure that the children have resources to access the topics during the lesson. Individual teachers have further explored the use of programs such as FlipGrid to aid discussions and encourage feedback. We will be amending the Marking Policy and merging it with the curriculum policy. This topic will be renamed ‘Feedback’ and encourage even more VF and child-led reflection.

S: How has dialogue changed or improved in your classroom as a consequence of remote learning?

M: Dialogue has always been high and a huge emphasis is placed on discussion – the access to a variety of resources has, at times, made conversations more ‘divergent’ and allowed us to explore links to other topics encouraging ‘mastery’.