All entries for Monday 25 July 2016
July 25, 2016
Tweet Tweet: Using Social Media to Continue with Educational Research
As I am rapidly approaching the end of my training year, I have begun to consider what place research will have in my career as I take on a fuller timetable and move away from my own academic studies. Will I have the time to sit and read textbooks on educational theory, as I have been doing over this past year? Probably not. However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t allow research to continue to shape my teaching and most importantly, my students’ learning, as I have found several time-effective ways to quench my academic thirst.
Although this may seem a little unorthodox to some, the best way I have kept up-to-date with educational research, and also received some excellent advice which has shaped my pedagogy, is through Twitter. We live in an age of social networking, and as practitioners, we should fully embrace that we have access to an international level of support that is literally at our fingertips. This year, I’ve been struggling to come up with ideas to make the teaching of the new GCSE English spec fun and more effective, and my department are at a loss too as they are teaching it for the first time alongside me. I decided to log onto Twitter, and voila! A host of ideas from other teachers popped up, accompanied by a wealth of links to articles and journals which I would have never thought to search for. Seriously, teachers, Twitter has been my saviour this year. For general enquiries and support, look at the EduChat network, either by searching the username or the hash tag. Fellow English teachers, get following @HeadofEnglish, @SianCarter1 and @JamesTheo- their experience in the field, creative ideas, and above all, their obvious love for our subject, inspires me every day.
Alongside this, I’m looking into starting a blog to continue my research. I feel that there is a significant lack of support for trainees and NQTs out there, who need the reassurance that there are others who are just as exhausted, just as clueless and just as exhilarated by the rollercoaster ride that is teaching! As an English specialist, I feel that using blogging as a creative outlet would help me, and it means that I would continue researching in order to keep my posts updated for other users. I’d love to help people as much as others have helped me during my first year of teaching, and there really is no bigger platform for us as teachers to share our practice through than the World Wide Web. As cheesy as this sounds, our primary aim is to create fun, engaging lessons for students which ultimately help them to achieve above and beyond what they are capable of. To achieve this, a million heads (albeit virtual heads) are definitely better than one! So, my final word of advice to every reader is to exploit social networking for all the benefits it can bring to your research and practice. We get so caught up in the dangers of the Internet nowadays, we forget what it was initially created for: to spread knowledge. Happy tweeting!
Teaching without research, really?
Teaching without research, really?
Although my teacher training year is coming to an end, I feel that my learning and development as a PE teacher is only just beginning. As I sit and reflect on my progress this year, I consider the impact that research has had on my practice; the action research that I have carried out myself as part of my masters, the literature I have read and explored to develop my pedagogy and behavioural management, alongside the continuing professional development sessions I have attended at school, university and teaching school alliance days that have been centralised on research and key practitioners. I cannot think of an element of my teaching that has not had at least some influence from a form of research and therefore I cannot entertain the idea that I will not continue to engage within research as I enter my newly qualified teaching year.
Most importantly for me, I have engaged with research in order to develop my classroom pedagogy. As I enter my NQT year and in my future teaching profession, I have every intention to continually develop my teacher toolbox, so that my teaching is up to date and innovative to ensure pupils make the best possible progress. As a teacher I can experiment with my own ideas within the sports hall and conduct my own research about how successful or unsuccessful these prove to be, even if time is limited to write up the findings. However, I question whether alone I would have been able to develop the variety of ideas, teaching styles and models that exist for the teaching of the PE. For example, the Teaching Games for Understanding Model developed by Bunker and Thorpe has become renowned within PE for teaching pupils the skills through game based contexts and without the research that details how to implement the model, the discussions about the positives and drawbacks of the model within other PE teacher’s lessons, I would not have known about this pedagogical model and therefore may not have taught in such a way. One of my favourite journals that I have engaged with so far is the Association for PE’s “Physical Education Matters”. This has been particularly useful because I can read about the practice of other PE teachers and trial out methods that have already been tried and tested by other practitioners allowing me to make comparisons with my own experience. Not only this but each article within the journal, is both informative but relatively short meaning it doesn’t take too long to read. This removes one of the existing barriers that may prevent practitioners from engaging within literature.
Furthermore, I have had first-hand experience of how research can allow me to perfect and develop elements of my teaching practice through my action research around peer assessment. I intend to continue this approach throughout my career, experimenting with the findings of other researchers and implementing these within my own practice. By conducting research into the effectiveness of strategies used within my own lessons, I will be able to draw conclusions from my observations, the thoughts and feelings of the pupils (if relevant) and the impact of my teaching on pupil progress.
I spent a well-needed day at my alliance, exploring the ways in which we as teachers can help our pupils to make good progress within our lessons. The ideas presented were focused on research, allowing us to explore a variety of strategies and analyse the impact on progress. Without research and the contribution of practitioners sharing and discussing their experiences, we would only have our own singular vision of teaching and how best to do it. Some may consider research to be a very time consuming activity in our already very busy schedules but contrary to this view, seeking more effective ways to enable children to make progress could prove to save us time in the future. This could simply be through learning a new behaviour management strategy, experimenting with a teaching style to push gifted and talented pupils, seeking resources, learning about how best to implement peer assessment or self-assessment activities or understanding the factors of a lesson that allow for pupils to make the best progress. Of course the research doesn’t come with a one size fits all, but it allows you to see what worked for other teachers so you realise you aren’t completely alone!