Investigating Teaching, Learning and Assessment in English
July 2019, London & York
Staff from OTLA project teams across England gathered in London and York to hear Professor Jean McNiff urge English teachers to experiment with new approaches to English teaching, and then to raise their voices to share grassroots experience of their pioneering work. Teams came up with creative proposals for inspiring demotivated learners, and Jean encouraged the teachers to have confidence when publicising the impact of these innovations.
Jean stressed that local research could have national significance, but teachers needed to confidently raise their voices and show the world the evidence from their unique, pragmatic and often ingenious responses. She argued that when teachers confidently engage in classroom research, they can contribute grounded insights into the craft wisdom that all English teachers can draw upon in a changing world. Jean stressed how important it was for teachers to share experiences, as ultimately, their professional judgements from classroom practice show how well-intentioned policies directing post-16 English teaching can best be translated into effective practice.
Vicky Butterby then gave an example of how she had tried to make changes through researching her own teaching. Vicky’s realistic and grounded approaches helped teachers feel at home in the research world – as one teacher commented afterwards, “Vicky welcomed us, and Jean valued us”. Teachers seemed to be inspired by Jean’s encouragement to research, and empowered by Vicky’s openness in showing how research can help us share the difficulties of letting go of established ways of doing things that are no longer working.
However, the key contributors to these “Teacher as researcher” events were the participating teachers themselves, injecting a passion for discovering how to revitalise English teaching for post-16 learners. Teachers felt invigorated by “the wealth of ideas, skills and positivity in the room”, and these days were productive in bringing together teachers with a diversity of backgrounds, but shared levels of commitment and enthusiasm.
The day seemed to open new doors for early career teachers and helped more established colleagues rediscover the excitement of teaching – but how did the teachers themselves evaluate the day?
If you feel that you or some of your team engaged in the OTLA English programme would benefit from attending a similar event, there are still free places available for the event on September 6th in Birmingham.
To apply, please complete this form.
Dr Andy Convery (OTLA English Research CPD Lead)