ResearchEd: Opening session

The primacy of the classroom. Good, modest teachers are the only thing essential for a good school. Teachers ambitious for their pupils, who still listen and learn. All mentioned in the opening speech from the principal of Dulwich College. Then, a thanks from organiser Tom Bennett before the keynote from a tardy Ben Goldacre.

A technical hitch means that in the opening, the word Onward flashes on and off behind Goldacre, like some kind of subliminal message. Teaching should be evidence-based practice and there needs to be solid information and critical appraisal of it. In the roughly 40 years you’ll teach for, fads will come and go and it’s not enough to receive a canon of knowledge and just stick with it.

The research does need to be out into practice to become meaningful. We need solid structures for disseminating the research, therefore – not necessarily academic journals, either. Relevant summaries of the strengths and weaknesses, gaps and answers, are more helpful for busy teachers. Conferences and inset days are also useful for sharing. Journal club – regular meeting at which people present one single piece of research as a summary, and talk about the imperfections and whether it is relevant for their school. Keeps things fresh and helps for gap sting, because at the end of journal club they consider whether the piece of research should have an impact on thir teacher, and if not, discuss why not. This generates meaningful questions from the people who the research should be most relevant to/ the teacher. Operate cluefully (not cluelessly) in your school context.

This talk does remind me a bit of when my projector bulb exploded and I had to teach a double year 10 lesson with no board. #awkward. Just talk! I didn’t come to see the flow chart!

Along the way you’ll meet…
Angry people who think they know what works already.
Dinosaurs who will drag you in to the qualitative vs quantitative debate – tedious
Smug people, who are pointless bores who will waste you time
Those who say there’s nothing to do because it’s all already been done.

I am a pathfinder and today is the start of my plan!

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