All entries for August 2019

August 28, 2019

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!


August 19, 2019

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 with 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!


August 12, 2019

Was I already doing my intervention in other classes without realising it?

When I started to think about my action research project I found it very hard to try and decide what to do. My second placement was in a completely contrasting school to my first and so any ideas I had, had seemed to not really apply to my new setting. I found myself constantly looking at classes and trying to decide what the problem was, how I might tackle it and whether it would work with them – at the same time as trying to get to know a new school, names and schemes of work. In the end I settled on a year 10 GCSE Drama class that had students in it who seemed to be lacking motivation – I wondered how I could turn this around and, from my reading, discovered that self-goal setting supposedly worked to allow students to take a personal interest in the task and consequently increase their motivation.

My plan was to get the class of year 10 students to set themselves a goal every lesson and reflect on it in that lesson and then, suddenly, they would become super-motivated, get lots of work done and be amazing. This proved a lot harder than I thought. Ironically, I found it hard to motivate them to even set a goal every lesson as they didn’t really see any purpose in it. It therefore became a challenge to do an intervention on motivation when my students were not motivated to do something that was attempting to motivate them. I’d been told at the end of my second placement that I needed to take more risks. I found myself really grateful, though, that I hadn’t taken a risk to do this 6 lesson intervention with a class of 30 boisterous year 8s, or even worse, 30 year 9s who had already chosen their options for GCSE and so didn’t see any point in trying in my lessons any more – these classes may have also needed a boost in motivation but I think their motivation to complete the intervention would have been even less.

Despite this, as I moved further through the intervention, I started to realise that I was actually embedding a similar idea in my other lessons, just calling it a different name and not using it for, what I thought, was the same outcome. As part of the whole school initiative and as part of my knowledge gained from University sessions I had been getting my students to set themselves targets on a regular basis. The difference was, I was expecting these targets to work to improve their skills and encourage reflection to help them understand their learning, not improve their motivation. Also, I was calling them by a different name – targets, not goals.

This made me realise that, maybe, my intervention wasn’t having an impact on my teaching in any other areas because to an extent, I was already doing it. I was scared to take it further because I wasn’t seeing the impact on the year 10s and I couldn’t see an impact on motivation in any other classes when they were setting themselves targets.

Another interesting point that made me think about my practice: at the end of my action research project, 10 of the students involved said they prefer the teacher setting them goals than self-goal setting. I really started to think about the reason for this and wondered if it was better for them as I am the one that holds their data and the knowledge about the course. However, I came to the conclusion that it should be a two-way process; that I should continue to share their data and say what I think they need to do, but also get them to reflect and think about where they need to go next, because if they don’t, they are never going to learn how to do it on their own and motivate themselves to succeed.

Something positive that has come out of my action research project is the impact an intervention can have on one single student. Out of 11 students that I did the intervention with, one student came out at the end saying she was more motivated, that she found self-goal setting really helped to push herself and her work actually showed a huge improvement in terms of the detail and focus that was put into it. This is really exciting and, although this action research hasn’t necessarily affected my teaching practice to a great extent, it has taught me a lot – I look forward to the next one.


August 2019

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  • 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

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