Steps in developing a dialogic ethos

A guide to preparing your classroom with an ethos that promotes dialogue

Below are a series of steps that can guide you in the process of developing a classroom ethos that promotes dialogue. Select the + icon on each of the steps to reveal further information and links to associated resources.

Step 1: Learn more about classroom dialogue and dialogic teaching!

Step 2: Audit talk in your classroom

Observe the type of language that is already in use in your classroom. Consider conducting a ‘talk audit’. Resources and activities are linked below to help you in this process:

Reflect on your own practice

Activity: how do you use whole-class talk?

Activity: identifying goals for productive discussions

Step 3: Prepare your classroom for class discussions

Productive discussions require a classroom culture in which student talk is valued and the goals and expectations for class dialogue are explicit. A supportive classroom climate for risk taking, and opportunities for multiple students to participate actively and learn together needs to be developed.

Research suggests:

Step 4: Prepare to promote quality whole-class and small-group dialogue

Whole-class dialogue: It is especially productive when discussions allow students to reveal and question their existing ideas (including misconceptions) and relate them to new information.

Suggestions for promoting whole-class dialogue

Small-group dialogue: Students‘ learning can be improved by dialogue and collaboration in small groups. However, for it to be productive, certain requirements have to be considered and specific ground rules for group work can be created.

Suggestions for promoting dialogic interactions between peers

Step 5: Identify interests and/or concerns regarding classroom dialogue

Have you identified any particular interests and/or issues that you would like to address? We suggest conducting a systematic inquiry or developing a project to improve the quality of these aspects of classroom dialogue.

Steps for conducting an inquiry in your classroom

Remember that it can take some time to establish a “dialogic classroom”. Talk is in itself a skill that needs to be practised.

Consider conducting systematic observations of talk in your classroom to establish clearer goals for dialogue in your class.

Talk about talk

A first step towards more dialogic teaching

Ground rules

Establish ground rules of communication 

Talking points

Thought provoking statements to support rich discussions

Classroom planning tips to encourage dialogue

Planning tips to encourage classroom talk

Promoting dialogic interactions

Requirements and activities for effective group work

Introductory video series

Collections of videos regarding educational dialogue