The future of research in the palm of your hand
My biggest concern moving into my NQT year is that I will become one of those cynical teachers, disengaged with the system, laden with stress and driven purely by results. We all know those teachers. We’ve all met them, or been taught by them and I find the thought of morphing into one quite frightening.
I think keeping on top of research is a way of ensuring this never happens. I don’t intend for research-led practice to be as laborious a task as in my training year. I won’t be pouring over library books for hours, or spending entire weekends locked away in my study, but there are definitely quicker and more engaging ways of keeping up to date with innovative ideas and movements in education.
Schools often offer CPD training on a variety of topics. While the quality of the training relies heavily on the trainer, the opportunity to engage with teachers of other subjects or schools should not be underestimated. At University, some of the most valuable sessions were when, even as students, we just talked about some of the things we had seen or tried in the classroom. It’s how I found out about Kagan structures, which, after further research, transformed my understanding of what cooperative learning is and how it should look. Other teachers, their ideas and experiences are an extremely accessible and incredibly valuable resource for exploring research and current educational pedagogy.
And, due to the incredible capabilities of modern day technology, we are not limited to exploring the experience of people we know, but we can tap into the innovations of educators around the globe. Twitter is a fantastic example of how this can be done. A whole world of blogs, reports and ideas all linked to 120 character summaries. Read a title, decide if you’re interested, click or move on.
Pinterest is another great way for coming up with novel teaching initiatives. For the tired teacher, who can’t even face the 140 characters of Twitter, Pinterest offers a scrolling screen of never ending pictures to browse and explore - all the in palm of your hand. General teaching ideas, subject or topic specific activities, behaviour for learning strategies and SEN support and guidance, classroom organisation, all presented in a range of bright, appealing pictures.
These ideas may not be the most up to date practice. They may not be based on the most contemporary research, but they are real life examples of real teachers and how they manage their workload and their classroom. It offers a quick way to dip in and out of the world of other teachers, ensuring that my own practice doesn’t go stale. Most of all it keeps me excited about teaching. I enjoy looking at what other people have done and thinking about how I could use that in my own classroom, how it could benefit my students.
Pedagogy and innovations have been made accessible in an attractive and convenient way and this is certainly how I intend to engage with research, at least as a starting point. From this, if there is an idea I am particularly inspired by, which I wish to develop and experiment with, then I may need to revert back to the hours of trawling through books and journals that I became so familiar with in my PGCE year - but the library certainly won’t be my starting point; the pretty Pinterest pictures will!
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