…and this is as good a place as any.
Have a look at Tom Bennett’s presentation at Research Ed 2013 because it nicely brings together three ideas that are important to me – not intentionally on his part but then we do tend to see what we are looking for, don’t we?
- his anger that what he was told would work in the classroom, didn’t;
- that teachers are very busy and this makes it hard to engage with the research
- that there is good research out there – it’s nowhere near perfect but there is some evidence about “what works”
To me, that places a big responsibility on the shoulders of anyone working on Initial Teacher Training courses, like me. If anyone should be separating the wheat from the chaff, it’s us. And who are we? Well, most of us are teachers. And what we bring with us to the job of training the next generation is not much more than a knowledge of what we think worked for us. I make no claim to have been anything more than a competent science teacher who has been through the process of significantly improving my own teaching through reflective practice. No problem though, I just need to read all the research literature, “work out what works”, and make sure that’s what my trainees get.
And there’s the rub. Firstly, whilst there’s no doubt working in ITT is less pressurised than teaching in schools and colleges, I’m certainly not going to be sitting around all day digesting research; and even if I was, I couldn’t expect to match the scale of the work by Hattie, Marzano, EEF and whatever other massive syntheses have already been done. And even if I could, or just read these, I might not be all that much the wiser as David Weston pointed out in his Research Ed 2013 presentation.
So here is my declaration: I will do my best (and that will have to be good enough), to teach my trainees only things that might work, based on good research, or personal experience. I will engage with both the research and the teachers that seem to be most effective in the classroom to try to make the training I deliver even better. And I will help my trainees to learn how to make good judgements about what works for them, in their classrooms.
This blog will document the process (or possibly I’ll get lazy about posting and it will peter out – we’ll see).