For over 3 years, I’ve been a little sceptical about the distance between academic research and classroom practice.
However, on Saturday 11th July, I was proven wrong. The gap is not as wide as I first had thought; the distance between the world of academia and classrooms in schools across the country is closing and this was never more evident in the recent SLTeachMeet event at BELMAS conference 2015. It is incredible, that just 50 people in a room (with others tuning in to the livestream from outside) can make an important issue for educators, trend on Twitter across the UK (alongside the Wimbledon final). This is evidence that action research is more important than ever before …
As an individual teacher, I last completed my own action research 20 years ago and again most recently for my masters degree in 2006. In an unstructured methodology, I complete action research every academic year in my place of work, cutting through guff and fads by filtering policies and paperwork from the DfE and Ofsted; by translating information through instruction, creating resources to use in classrooms through supporting and sharing with colleagues in my school.
But is there a culture of sharing best practice in your school? And without the need for you to be pressed to do so? If so, how do you do this? If not, what barriers stop teachers engaging with academic research?
Hear or Fear?
In my own presentation, I focused on the barriers that deter teachers from engaging with academic research. I discuss peer review and critique; not just in journals, books and academic research, but in environments such as schools, where teachers are fearful of presenting in front of their peers. I ask the audience to consider ‘Hear of Fear?’ which is explained in much more detail here. Are we working in a culture where our voices [action research] can be heard? Or are we working in a culture where we are fearful of critique from our peers(?); particularly on Twitter.
“critical peer reviews [academic papers] clearly cross the line between a vigorous critique and an unprofessional attack.”
Barriers Deterring Research:
In the slide-show below, I share the first four barriers that hinder teachers engaging with research;
The original article suggests;
“… that if academics/teachers consistently undervalue each other’s work, funding agencies will shift their support to fields whose researchers don’t.”
Could this be applied to schools? Discouraging beginning researchers can only discourage people from participating again if they receive any damming critique. Further barriers for teachers accessing academic research may be;
Teachers and support staff who engage in action research inevitably find it to be an empowering experience. Although I offer no silver bullet, I showcase What Works?; action research from staff working in our school. This journal is one of the first steps in our (CPD) Continued Professional Development journey to strengthen the culture of action research for all of our staff. Offered from a range of teaching and support staff conducting long-term action research in and out of school. You can download how we have done this, here.
You can watch the video of my presentation below.
The footage starts from 36 minutes and features the following academics and teachers; @chrishildrew – The Prospect of Headship; @LCLL_Director – Researchers and practitioners: stronger together – a third space; @keywordsenglish – A research-based approach to literacy and Education; @robcampbe11 – Ethical labour – it’s, well, labouring ethically; @chrysalisleader – Building Resilience for School Leadership; @CazzWebbo – The art of Zen and Teacher Researcher Maintenance; @VicGoddard – Over the hill in headship?; and @PatsyDavies – Learning with iPads.
Here are some photographs from the CPD event; share them here.
You can download my full presentation by clicking on the image below. In return, please click here to share this blog.
“Beautiful Wokefield Park.”