Why become a Teacher Researcher?
‘…one of the delights of my recent professional life’
David, Head of Department, English
Good teachers are by definition involved and interested in the processes of learning and teaching. Thinking about what makes effective teaching and learning is often referred to as reflective teaching. Research takes that process of reflection and translates it into evidence – a knowledge base that is both sound and able to be shared. Laurence Stenhouse, who really was the founder of the idea of teacher research, called it, ‘…systematic inquiry made public’ (What Counts as Research: 1981 British Journal of Educational Studies Volume 29, Issue 2, 1981).
Today, research is seen as part of a teacher’s role: the emphasis on evidence, whether that is using school data, or classroom focused data. It is very much part of the way in which teachers create and validate classroom knowledge. But it is also about ensuring that professional development is active and focused on your own interests. Good research will stimulate, engage, challenge and energise your professional ‘self’. It should not be a ‘bolt-on’ activity but rather a framework for thinking about teaching and learning.
So teacher research is about an opportunity to engage with good ideas, to find out about teaching and learning strategies from elsewhere, but also to think more deeply about education itself – and to share that with colleagues in your school, and the wider CamSTAR network.
‘…It fits in seamlessly with our learning ethos already’
Claire, Middle Leader
Teaching is a graduate profession and teachers are eminently well equipped to conduct impactful and meaningful research projects. Sometimes Teachers suffer the misapprehension that school-based research may be too ‘academic’ or abstruse for them, whereas it is focussed and absorbing, directly relevant, develops professional growth, and with the clear and supportive structure provided by CamSTAR, is within the scope of every Teacher.
Teachers can direct their research to focus on key context-specific projects applicable to their pupils’ learning, their classroom, and the population their school serves, but their findings can be universally valid and useful in developing learning and teaching. Most importantly Teacher Research allows you to become truly expert at a high level in specific aspects of teaching and learning, and provides a significant discriminator in developing your career.
It is also fascinating, collaborative - and fun!