Reviewer Jill Berry shares her top edu-blogs from the week
Disconnect in the classroom
A new blogger to me, Blake Harvard reflects on the relationship between practitioners and researchers, and what might be done better to connect the two. He examines the barriers that might lead to teachers making good use of the outcomes from research, and then identifies possible strategies for overcoming these barriers. He includes useful compilation sites and recommends ResearchEd workshops. “As a high school teacher, I feel it is partly my duty to find the most applicable evidence-based practices for my students…Teachers and students deserve access to this research and time to read through and discuss ways to apply it in the classroom. This is where it has to be done to be most effective and have the greatest impact across cultures around the world.”
Reflecting on accessing and conducting research
On a similar subject, Sarah Brinkley considers accessing – and conducting – research as a teacher or school leader.
She recognises how potentially overwhelming this might be, but talks of her experience as a practitioner researcher and what she has gained from it. She describes identifying an issue her school wanted to learn more about, where she accessed support, carrying out related reading and then conducting research in her own context. She also talks of the importance of customising and adapting what we learn. “Small-scale teacher-led research turned out to be neither as scary nor as daunting as I first thought.”
Why growth mindset isn’t what you think it is
Bradley Busch explores the phenomenon of growth mindset and how, in the rush to embrace its principles and access the benefits, some educators may have misinterpreted what is really involved. He warns against focusing on the importance of “effort”, which he identifies as only one of the factors that can lead to improved performance. He quotes Carol Dweck: “Too often nowadays, praise is given to students who are putting forth effort, but not learning, in order to make them feel good in the moment: ‘Great effort! You tried your best!’.” Busch reminds us that learning, not effort, is the focus, and describes strategies beyond “try harder” that can lead to success.
Integrity Coaching’s Viv Grant profiles the head of the new Aureus School in Oxford, Hannah Wilson (@TheHopefulHeadteacher). She explores what school leaders can do to sustain themselves, to build resilience and to find joy in the role. Wilson reflects on the importance of clear values, and using them to guide you, especially when you are tested. She talks of managing workload, being realistic and knowing yourself well, modelling this positively and supporting others to do the same. And she considers practical ways in which leaders can prioritise well-being, make the most of support networks and ensure they know when they need to “send up a flare”. “In leadership it is so important to practise what you preach. My school’s ethos is to ensure that my staff and students ‘grow, to learn, to flourish’, I recognise that I also need to ensure that I commit to and model this as the headteacher.”
Fellows of the Royal Society are human too
Jonathan Gregory, @UniofReading
Finally, I was pleased to discover this post by the University of Reading academic Jonathan Gregory, recently designated a Fellow of the Royal Society, but still acutely mindful of the danger of “imposter syndrome”. In a refreshing, honest and fascinating consideration of the power of humility, knowing our limitations and being committed to continuing to learn, he concludes: “See what there is to be discovered, because there may be unknown mountains hidden in the mists of ignorance, and amazing panoramas can occasionally be glimpsed through the gaps.”