On Saturday 29th August, I had the pleasure of attending my first ResearchEd event. It was held on my home turf at the University of Glasgow, hosted by the School of Education in the Sir Charles Wilson Lecture Theatre and the St Andrews Building.
Some of the speakers included: Bob Davis, Tom Bennett, Anna Beck, Isabelle Boyd, Gillian Hamilton, George Gilchrist, Mark Priestley, Valerie Drew, Mark Healy, Marc Smith, Jim Conroy, Stephen Tierney, Craig Jamieson, Gary Walsh, Gary Jones, Anne Glennie, Phil Tonner, Jonathan Firth, Kieran Dhunna Halliwell, David Cameron (the real one!), Chris Chapman and Margery McMahon. There was an additional recorded interview with Tom and Daniel Willingham.
The event was well organised and had plenty to offer everyone.
If you read the ResearchEd website (http://www.workingoutwhatworks.com), you’ll see it “is a grass-roots, teacher-led organisation aimed at improving research literacy in the educational communities, dismantling myths in education, getting the best research where it is needed most, and providing a platform for educators, academics, and all other parties to meet and discuss what does and doesn’t work in the great project of raising our children.”
The opportunity to listen to some great speakers and hear what is happening in classrooms and across education is an attractive one. In a time where Initial Teacher Education (ITE) in Scotland is looking to evolve into a Masters level profession, the timing could not have been more perfect. I can only assume that the natural route into an SCQF level 11 award is to become skilled and experienced in applying research-informed pedagogies. The fantastic turnout on a Saturday illustrates the passion and enthusiasm of those who attended. Those present where there because they wanted to be there!
There was too much going on to hear everyone speak and I struggled to pick my slots as there was often an internal struggle within myself between sessions. The day started out with a gathering of old (and some new!) friends and colleagues. Following the opening and keynote, we moved into a detailed programme of smaller inputs. In the end, after much deliberation, I attended:
- Teacher Education Reform in Scotland: Teacher’s as ‘agents of change’ in the policy process with Anna Beck;
- School-based curriculum development through critical collaborative professional enquiry with Mark Priestly and Valerie Drew;
- Why we should not tell ourselves lies with Jim Conroy (especially thought-provoking!);
- Recharge Learning – Research aware practices with educational technologies with Craig Jamieson;
- The floating teacher project: action research into in-classroom instruction videos with Kieran Dhunna Halliwell; and
- Improving our schools: Moving beyond school improvement with Chris Chapman.
It goes without saying, that taking on-board such an eclectic mix of ideas and research was challenging. I held my tongue several times (probably not within the ethos of the event) but for the day, I had set myself with the goal of listening and learning from others rather than mixing things up too much. I was also keen to hear what other people had to say as it is not often that an audience includes teachers from primary and secondary schools, educational organisations and academics. The format, style and delivery encouraged debate and discussion and most of what I saw was delivered with good humour. Although a formal gathering, the feel of the day was that equal to a longer conference whereby delegates also have the opportunity to engage informally, for example via break and lunch. I found myself laughing many times and this only made my own sense of purpose more fulfilling. I guess that common theme that seemed to run throughout was based on a question: why do we do what we do in the way that we do it?
The event concluded with a panel discussion – the key ‘take-away’ message for me is that we have an excellent opportunity in Scotland to create a culture of innovation and research-informed practice which is built upon evidence based approaches to learning. There needs to be more consideration on how we can collate and disseminate such research for students and teachers out in schools – and indeed there needs to be a change to the academic, cultural and structural systems that already underpin our education system. We have a long way to go, but with more events such as this on the agenda, we are, at least, moving in the right direction.