Examining focused conversations for professional development and leadership in early childhood: Highlighting the role of evaluative stance

Year: 2013

Author: Nailon, Di, Thomas, Damon, Emery, Sherridan, Stephenson, Elspeth, Kinnear, Virginia

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Focused conversation is a tool which can be used to lead group inquiry into professional practice. Four levels of questions guide participants through objective, reflective, interpretive and decisional levels of conversation.  Over the past several years focused conversation has been used in Australia to facilitate National Quality Framework related professional learning and development with early childhood educators. The research reported here used an Attitude analysis from Systemic functional linguistics to examine the role of evaluative stance in a facilitated focused conversation with a coordination team in a Family Day Care Service. The analysis targeted the reflective and interpretive levels of a focused conversation around the use of television with young children in home based care. These levels encourage the expression of personal feelings about, and evaluation of an issue. The analysis showed that  the coordination team members moved from negative discussions to a more positive systems-oriented approach to solving issues surrounding the topic. Outcomes of the study have the potential to contribute to the use of focused conversation in the development of communities of practice in early childhood and other sectors of education.