Worlds of Education

Credits: Leif Harboe/Flickr
Credits: Leif Harboe/Flickr

#ResNet: Amplifying teacher voice: getting stuck into research, by Philippa Cordingley

published 7 May 2018 updated 11 May 2018
written by:

One of the things we are exploring in our research into how different countries construct teachers’ professional identities that will be presented at Education International’s annual Research Network meeting today, is the nature of the links between investing in research-informed teaching and amplifying teachers’ collective professional voice.

Our project explores the way governments and professional associations in Sweden, Chile, Kenya, Ontario, Berlin, Scotland and Singapore establish policies and exchange ideas and perspectives about issues such as:

  • initial teacher education, qualifications and support;
  • continuing professional development and Learning (CPDL);
  • teachers’ choices about what they teach and how they teach it;
  • the boundaries and limits of what teachers are expected to take responsibility for; and
  • leadership of and by teachers both within and beyond schools.

We have been working with local professional associations and government officials to create poster summaries of the key regulatory, financial and developmental building blocks shaping these issues in each country and using the results to tailor survey questions for teachers.

The survey aims to capture perspectives from current practitioners, to build up a rich picture of evidence about what it means to be a teacher in these systems. So far, we have conducted surveys in Scotland, Berlin, Sweden and Kenya; the survey currently ongoing in Chile & Ontario and is due to be launched in Singapore at the end of this month. From each survey, we will be producing a survey highlights document to pull out key and interesting findings.

What we have noticed is that in the countries that have decided to position teaching as a research and evidence-informed profession, there were many more responses. This might take the form of investing in making research accessible to teachers, or offering teachers Continuing Professional Development in collecting, analysing and applying research evidence. For example, in Scotland, where the General Teaching Council has been promoting research-informed teaching for some time, we received 1,351 responses very quickly. In Ontario where this has been a major policy for over ten years and where significant funds have been invested in supporting the development of research-informed practice, we received almost 1,000 survey responses on the first day!

Why might this matter to teachers? We are wondering whether investing in and promoting research-informed teaching might be an important and strategic way of amplifying teachers’ professional and collective voice. In Scotland, government policies in response to deteriorating performance in international tests have made much of an increased willingness by government to be more consultative about education policy. But our survey evidence highlights important questions about who government is working increasingly collaboratively with. The survey results highlighted important challenges to the government’s self-perceptions – challenges that were taken up by the national press, as you can see from this extract from the Times.

So, the question this blog is posing is: do you think that positioning teaching as a research-informed profession would help to give teachers an increased appetite for contributing their thinking to research about the profession and in doing so give the profession as a whole a stronger voice?

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect any official policies or positions of Education International.