Why Teachers need Research
Reflections from ResearchEdBrum
“Teachers need to be better educational researchers.”
“Wales should initiate a ResearchED style event of its own, for its own context.”
These are two refrains that are doing the rounds on Edu-Twitter in Wales at the moment, and we would disagree with both of them.
This weekend we attended ResearchEDBrum, which was a fantastic event, inspiring, fascinating and incredibly thought-provoking. It also solidified our view on how teachers should be using research.
We believe teachers should:
- Know which edu-research is the most robust, reliable and applicable for the learning process.
- Have the opportunity, free of judgement, to discuss and explore what and how they think about the research.
- Have access to the learning and experiences of a wide range of other educators who are using research to make a difference in their schools and classrooms.
- Actively use edu-research to solve the most important pedagogical problems & concerns in their classroom.
- Be supported by senior leaders who stop their staff doing things that have been shown to have no impact on learning.
- Be provided with professional learning that is itself shaped by what the research says about learning & memory.
It was clear at ResearchEdBrum that there is a cohort of educators in England and a handful in Wales, who are well ahead of the rest in terms of doing what works. These educators are leading the way in England, and we feel more of us should be following their lead in Wales.
We heard headteachers who had dramatically turned around the fortunes of their schools for the better, explicitly stating they had stopped teachers doing things they knew weren’t working such as marking pupils’ books, to provide the space to innovate and do better. Speakers took for granted that delegates had a body of knowledge about the most relevant educational research that could be used as a starting point for discussion. Whilst many of those speakers had carried out formal published educational research, many had not. Of those who had not, they had used rigorous, reflective practice underpinned by both quantitative and qualitative data to identify what was working and why.
This reflects our view that being a better educational researcher, publishing research, is not necessarily the most effective way to become a better teacher. Excellent teachers use reflection underpinned by evidence to make the best decisions for their pupils. This does not need to become ‘close-to-practice research’. Teachers using the research that is already out there to do what works, need to be supported by professional learning that uses direct instruction, deliberate, guided practice and the freedom effective support from senior leaders creates.
We know each home country within the UK is different, has its own successes and challenges, but we are all learners. We all learn in the same way using the same cognitive architecture and the same memory span. Let’s be open to learning wherever it comes from, let’s work together but let’s do it now, as Marcus Aurelius said:
“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”
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