Might we go beyond the comfort of chat?

In last week’s blog I worked with the case of music teacher Ellie to illustrate how teacher research starts from the teacher identifying a problem they encounter on a daily basis. I showed how through a systematic approach (six principles) Ellie’s enquiry claims the status of research. Ellie goes beyond simply describing novel practice or reporting strategies which work. Ellie’s is a critical enquiry drawing upon research knowledge and producing new knowledge of professional significance.

In concluding her research report Ellie writes:

‘The starting point of this research project – Rachel’s ‘’Miss, I hate composition’’ – is still a factor in composition lessons … I am starting to notice, however, a subtle change. In addition to compositions showing greater diversity and the changed nature of our conversations about composing, I am coming to realize that self-efficacy [1] and enjoyment are not as closely linked as I might have assumed. Improved self-efficacy may be the first step towards enjoyment.’ [2]

Here Ellie raises a fresh question and challenges a popular assumption and, engaged in educational discourse, becomes ever more articulate.

This week I tweeted to draw the attention of music teachers to the blog of English teacher Andy Tharby. [3] I was struck not only by the elegance of Andy’s writing but also by the way pedagogical knowledge was being articulated. Here is a teacher-researcher able to analyze and describe classroom interactions in fine detail.

It struck me that here was perhaps something for music teachers to aspire to. Might we go beyond the comfort of ‘chat’, the habit of describing, both of course important?


[1] Ellie draws on Bandura’s 1994 definition of self-efficacy as ‘people’s beliefs about their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance that exercise influence over events that affect their lives…the conviction that one can successfully execute the behaviour required to produce the outcome’.

[2] ‘Creating composers: An exploration of the teachers’ role in GCSE composition.’ University of Cambridge, Faculty of Education, page 82. (2013)

[3] See http://reflectingenglish.wordpresss.com

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