How beneficial can educational literature really be in such a practical vocation? – Beth
As a literature student, reading and researching theories has become second nature to me. However, when I began my PGCE I was sceptical- how beneficial can educational literature really be to me in such a practical vocation?
But I was proved wrong, from the very outset of the course. The reading I have undertaken during this academic year has provided me with many different ways to approach core elements of teaching practice, from behaviour management, to differentiation, to subject-specific pedagogy. This year, reading research has been critical to my subject (English), as a result of the reformation of the GCSE and A-Level specifications. Research is constantly evolving about how to approach these changes, and ways in which teachers can deliver information on the new texts that have been included in the specifications. The articles and journals that I have read always contain practical advice, which make it easy to adopt these ideas into my own practice. I have discovered this year that, as a trainee, I have been exposed to more research material than my colleagues at school have been. This means that I have been able to offer new approaches to teaching to my department, and they have been grateful for the information that I have provided. This has caused me to realise that there is no better way to keep my course material fresh and exciting for students than by researching, and ensuring that my teaching reflects current understanding.
Whenever I have encountered a problem in my teaching practice, I have turned to research to help to resolve those issues. Although teaching can at times seem like a solitary career, there is a huge network of support to be found in educational research and theory: whatever setback you are currently facing, the likelihood is a preceeding practitioner has experienced it before, and has documented the remedy for it! The wealth of knowledge you can find is reassuring, and although there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ technique to apply to the classroom, there will be several approaches you can take until you find one which works for you. During my first term, pace was an aspect of teaching which I struggled with, and my reading of educational theory provided me with techniques to try in order to improve this, such as the benefits of incorporating timers into lessons, and creating timed challenges for students, which simultaneously increases their engagement.
One key question that every practitioner needs to ask themselves during researching is: how will this theory benefit my teaching and, above all, the learning of my students? Placing research into action can be motivating for both teacher and learners who take enjoyment in adopting new strategies and refreshing the classroom environment. Reading research also encourages teachers to maintain self-reflectivity, as you must evaluate how well the theory worked in practice, how your students responded and above all, how it helped or hindered the progress that was made during your lesson. By immersing yourself in research throughout your teaching career, you remain a learner - and this allows teachers to relate to their students, maintaining understanding relationships. I hope that reading research will remain as beneficial to me throughout my teaching practice as it has been to me in this first year.