We are a learning profession. Without engagement in research our credibility as teachers and leaders of education is diminished, and we surrender professional autonomy ceasing to be co-creators of informed practice. But where to begin and how to make practitioner research manageable?
Here are five tips from the schools and early years settings that we have supported in research over the last seven years:
Make sure everyone involved knows why they are acting as practitioner researchers. Without a common understanding of why it is hard to maintain engagement across a busy academic community.
Build the topic of the research out from the school priorities. This gives a practical focus to the practitioner research and results in different findings that support the discussion about next steps and application.
Use the EEF Toolkit (https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/evidence-summaries/teaching-learning-toolkit/) as a starting point to discover what has been done already.
Create a community of learning by using a format such as action learning to give structure to the research projects and benefit from peer-to-peer encouragement.
Create a platform for the findings. A research page on the school website, a submission to BERA or ERIC, a printed booklet of findings. Whatever you choose, a platform for findings gives credibility and builds a library of learning.