Published during the COVID-19 global pandemic, Conversations to Change Teaching is likely to be remembered by its readers far into the future. Readers will reflect and remember where they were when they first read this important and timely book. At home. At home and in isolation, physically removed and separated from their students and colleagues, missing the very thing this book investigates - conversation.
Building on notions of reflective and collaborative practice, the authors have found ways to share their deep knowledge of and passion for the role of conversation in personal, professional and pedagogical practice. What is unique is the way they have surfaced, revealed and framed the contribution of the daily practices of work place conversations in higher education. The reader never loses sight of the students who are the raison d'etre for the authors.
As one reads the words of Jarvis, Clark and Smith something magical occurs as they describe, analyse and structure the way conversations can help individuals and institutions develop their understandings and practices of teaching. The joy of this book is the way it is written. A book about conversation is rendered in ways that are at once academically sinewy and delightfully accessible. The metaphor used for giving feedback on teaching - the popular television programme The Great British Bake Off - initially appears quirky and charming, but what it does is to nail what works and what doesn't when talking about teaching with colleagues. Moreover, the power of this cleverly chosen popular reference will surely launch future conversations over a piece of cake about pedagogy. Here again, the authors render the complex business of development of teaching in accessible and memorable ways.
Finally, an observation about this book's written style. I read the book across a bank holiday weekend and found myself reading aloud huge chunks of written words. Somewhat surprised at first, I realised I was hearing and savouring the cadences, rhythms and tones of the writers' voices and also appreciating the rich and generous content of the chapters. I have already shared this book with my colleagues in the university I lead. I am longing for the day when we can have conversations about this book, hopefully face to face, as we focus on the future of teaching and learning in higher education in an uncertain world. Conversations to Change Teaching will, I am sure, become a much read, well-thumbed, treasured and talked about book in many higher education contexts.
-- Dr Keith Robert Thomas, Director General, University of Technology, Mauritius
In Conversations to Change Teaching, Jarvis and Clark provide rich illustrations of the different forms of conversations around teaching that can and are held formally and informally in universities today. Through examples from their own practice and drawing on some pertinent literature we are led through different strategies and approaches that reflect the potential strengths of conversations whilst being mindful of the power relations involved in some conversations, for example, teaching observations and the observee-observer dynamic. The authors bring to the fore the importance of paying close attention to our language and willingness to listen and learn by all involved with the conversations and how to use noticing as a way of structuring how we talk with each other about teaching and learning.
Throughout the book, the authors reflect the values of the scholarship of teaching and learning to underpin teaching conversations so practice is enhanced based on evidence-informed approaches. Opportunities for staff to engage with the scholarship of teaching and learning through and as a consequence of their conversations are identified. Each chapter finished with a useful set of critical questions for practice and a short summary with 1 or 2 key articles suggested for the reader to follow up on. This short book would be of value to all staff involved in supporting and developing the teaching practice of peers, leading teaching development programmes and staff keen to maintain their own professional development with regards to their own teaching practice.
-- Dr Jane Pritchard, Oxford Brookes University