Well placed research…


Sometimes there is a debate in education that a teacher might like to read a little more about from research journals, rather than the national media or other sectoral interest groups.

There are then two concerns

  1. Access to research…
  2. Where to look…

In Ireland, access to research databases, is available to registered teachers via the Teaching Council. Finding where to look, however, may be daunting especially, if this is your first time using academic databases.

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) had an interesting take on this recently.  There was a school shooting in Washington State and AERA made available fourteen peer-reviewed “no cost” articles to educators (here) to help them and their school communities develop a response to bullying and school safety.

A secondary benefit of AERA’s approach is that it puts selected scholarly research into the public arena at a time that greater thought and reflection may be needed.

I like this approach to research – a respected research body making available another form of support for the educational community.

My goal this year is to blog all my French lessons…


blog19I think these types of initiatives are really important.

Tanya Campbell plans to blog all of her French lessons. Putting her classes out there for teachers to at least lurk in or better still, learn from and collaborate.

I have already learned that there are eleven types of French-Canadian!

I was reviewing the slides (here) from Professor John MacBeath presentation, to school-leaders in Dublin, recently. The topic was “International perspectives on school self evaluation.

I liked the slide which was entitled “How do teachers learn?

MacBeaths response was

  • Peer observation
  • —Lesson study
  • —Co-teaching
  • Mentoring, coaching and critical friendship
  • —Learning from and with students
  • —Collaborative lesson planning
  • —Learning conversations
  • —Sharing and discussing students’ work
  • —Structured practice-focused meetings
  • —Learning walls

A lot of the reaction to Twitter about my previous post on Continuing Professional Development was on lack of resources, time and money .

They are very important but even more important is the passion that a teacher brings to his / herself-understanding as an educational professional and how they can continue to do their professional best for themselves and their students.

This requires an attitude, an openness and a professional drive. There is an element of self and peer initiative around the classic action research type question – how can I improve and continue to improve practice here in my classroom?

How to begin? I like MacBeaths two points about Sharing and Discussing Students Work and Structured Practice-Focused meetings.

They can I think, with a little creative thinking and support by school management and leaders of learning within a school, be embedded within existing subject planing / subject meeting structures.

Just some thoughts!


…nurturing the expert, within our own schools

Mags Amond wrote an interesting piece on her blog about the hive of activity of teachers in Ireland are currently engaged in, each weekend.

Some of theses are Subject-Association conferences and administration, others are national educational events and yet others are celebrating a subject, like the recent Maths Fest.

Amond poses the question “…is the weekend becoming the new week? (in Irish Education at least)…” Interesting! Teachers were certainly very busy late September and early October this year.

The Professor of Educational Research Policy and Practice from Glasgow university was recently in Ireland. Kay Livingstone was talking about teacher professional development and she was asking a question about where were the professional conversations of teachers taking place?


It set me wondering about comfort zones and where teachers like to engage in professional conversations.

It will not in my opinion be good for education in Ireland, if professional conversations take place only at weekends amongst like minded, challenging and self-sustaining teachers.

They must take place as the Teaching Council says in their recent newsletter (citing Marion Dadds) by nurturing the expert within. I might add – by nurturing the expert within, our own schools.

I think we are in trouble as a profession if these conversations do not take place in schools, and particularly in the schools we teach in.

This is where the sense-making professional conversations will take place and lead to change. These will not be not massive steps at a time, but to use a sporting analogy I heard from another teacher, lead incrementally to “…an accumulation of marginal gains…

Just some thoughts!