Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Accessible Research

Teachers are already busy. Calls for a 'research-engaged profession' can fall on deaf ears when there is quite simply already too much to do. At the of a long day, or when there are books to mark or lessons for a new spec to plan, the very last thing a teacher wants to do is start reading research, let alone do anything with it. Equally, even if there was the time, some teachers have no desire to engage with research - if we consider teaching an art, as many do, is this okay? 

Schools should consider carefully how best to impose anything new, particularly something as time consuming as engaging with research. Some schools have appointed specific TLR post holders to filter down the key findings that are useful for teachers. Others have incorporated it into CPD sessions or the appraisal process. This integrated approach may work in some schools, but requires time (again), money and an interest.

I remember David Cameron (not that one) saying at Northern Rocks 2015 along the lines of, "teachers are already spinning lots of plates, we need to work out which are Ikea and which are Wedgewood". If we are adding more, we need to take something away. We can't keep adding more.

Lately on Twitter, I've noticed a few quick wins:

1) Use Chris Moyse's 'Research in 100 words' posters. Download <here>
Put them up around school and rotate:

2) Use the Learning Scientist posters. Download <here>
I made an A5 booklet for 6th formers, I am going to make a display for the corridor and have suggested printing and putting student study booths

3) Share 'The Science of Learning'. Download <here>
In less that 10 pages, staff can have a complete overview of the best we currently know about learning. Cancel a meeting, extend a break time, provide a time to read it

4) Advertise ResearchEd conferences. See <here>
Pay for staff to go - they are on a Saturday!

5) Buy a couple of books for the staffroom/staff toilets. I'd start with <this> and <this>.
And if you can get Nick or David to come and do some INSET

6) Set up a time and space to discuss the opportunities and the challenges. 
Make sure there is free lunch, tea and cake.

For me, we need to work out what makes good teachers good so that we can help others grow to be even better. We know a lot more now that we ever did. Surely it makes sense to try and use it?

“Every teacher needs to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better.” Dylan Wiliam

School leaders just need to create and provide the time, space and resources to make it happen.  

Further suggestions received:
1) Join the EBTN <here> [There is a cost...]
2) Sign up to the Best Evidence in Brief email <here> [I don't always find this accessible or practically useful]

1) Research should not be elevated to a status above all else
2) Age and wisdom are INVALUABLE 
3) Teaching can never become technocratic - we always have context
4) Pedagogy can never be uniform - we always have context and need individuality 
5) Discussion is always needed to engage with the research - we always have context
6) We always have context
Thank you to Michael Merrick

Image courtesy of Animal Photos

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