There has been a flurry of activity on Twitter this weekend around teacher research. This got me thinking about the whole topic. One tweet referred to a transcript of a conference presentation, which discussed the possible reasons why teachers don’t use research. One was the use of academic language used in publications. I agree that it would be nice not to need a dictionary beside you as you read some articles.
Research is one of those ‘it would be nice to find out more and I’ll get round to it one day’ tasks for many teachers. Time is a significant barrier to engaging with research as levels of accountability rise. It will be interesting to see how the guidance to teachers in reducing bureaucracy is implemented.
Why should teachers bother with research?
The Donaldson Report, (2011), recommends that teaching develops into a research informed profession. It is a requirement of GTCS registration – research is mentioned a number of times in the suite of standards.
It makes sense to consider research findings. The majority of teachers want to do their best for the children and young people, and if finding out more about a topic helps to support them more effectively, then this seems a reasonable thing to do. It provides evidence for self-evaluation and a rationale for your practice. However, barriers do still exist, including teachers valuing the role of research in their work and the other demands on their time. Could I dare wonder if space could be found in working time agreements for teachers to discuss their reading?
How would they do it?
Having worked in a university for two years and working towards an MEd, it may be more natural for me to consider research findings in my practice. I have seen how Masters level is now the norm in ITE – this should develop this in new teachers. Now that I have returned to the classroom, I am glad that, in Scotland, all teachers have free access to the EBSCO resource on the GTCS website. This was another finding in the transcript – that publications are not accessible for teachers, and so this helps to overcome this barrier. There is a developing GTCS Teacher Research Network, of which I am part, to promote and support engagement with research. I have recommended some articles on this site, and all the recommendations should support teachers who are not sure where to start with their reading. My own authority has a Professional Learning Academy, which is a fantastic support for staff in becoming research informed. I find Twitter itself a good professional network and a useful source of responses to articles. There is support out there for teachers who want to implement research in their practice.
For me, the first step in engaging with research should be to develop the skill in critical reading, whether a journal article or policy document. It opens a whole new perspective on education. Also crucial is the consideration of how findings can be implemented in your own setting – context is everything. Would it be applicable in your own setting and what impact would it have on your pupils? I believe these are fundamental when using research.