All entries for Monday 18 March 2019

March 18, 2019

Without research its a career not worth having – Ralph Tabberer

I completed my initial teacher training in the 1970s and had no idea how important research was going to be in my career. Most of my early teaching experience was a battle to get organised and to stay ahead, with material and ideas that would work day to day, and week to week.

I fell into classroom research after two years’ teaching, entirely out of my interest in understanding more of what was happening from the students’ viewpoint.

I worked with colleagues in designing simple exercises to track how students approached learning challenges. First, we paired up students so that one was the observer while another took on a task requiring them to use the library. The written reports of how students struggled to find the resources they needed were unintentionally hilarious until, that is, we realised that our 13-year-olds had no idea how to conduct a proper search. We had never shown them; it wasn’t in our curriculum.

Our work progressed. We asked students to collect the comments and marks they received in each lesson they attended, for one week, and when they played back their written and spoken results, we were ashamed. I still recall one child who spent almost every lesson being told exactly how poor they were. There was no system to our feedback and marking; we were unaware of the accumulated effect.

After a series of these exercises – looking at reading, writing, searching, feedback, problem-solving and more – I deepened my interest in research into the classroom, and into the cognitive sciences, and this has sustained me all my career. In teaching, fashions change – just look at the recent debate about ‘mastery learning’ – and it is incredibly valuable to have a grasp of some of the underpinning ‘laws’ of teaching and learning.

I was fortunate in my school career. I worked for ten years in research after those early exercises in our classrooms. I joined a local authority and made my way in advising schools on their improvement strategies. I had the great honour of being appointed to run a government agency – funding teacher education – and from there I moved to take charge of school policy and operations at the Department for Education. That was during the Blair years when his celebrated top three priorities were: “education, education, education”. Heady days.

At every step, I was able to approach our work with that foundation in teaching and learning. We did not get everything right – by any means – but I have no doubt that our strengths and successes came in those areas where we knew and applied the lessons of research.

I didn’t know how important research was going to be when I started my career. I now realise there would have been no career worth having without it.

March 2019

Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
Feb |  Today  | Apr
            1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Search this blog



Most recent comments

  • Very interesting, thank you for sharing. Great CPD reflection. by Joel Milburn on this entry
  • Hi Lucy, Thank you for sharing the highs and lows of diverse assessments. I hope you have inspired o… by Anna Tranter on this entry
  • Hello Lucy, I totally agree with everything you have said here. And well done for having the energy … by Natalie Sharpling on this entry
  • Thank you for setting up this Learning Circle. Clearly, this is an area where we can make real progr… by Gwen Van der Velden on this entry
  • It's wonderful to read of your success Alex and the fact that you've been able to eradicate some pre… by Catherine Glavina on this entry

Blog archive

Not signed in
Sign in

Powered by BlogBuilder