Please Can I Go to the Research Ball?

Well that was quite the first residential for the ETF / SUNCETT Research Development Fellowship class of 2016. Many thanks to the SUNCETT team and all ‘Fellows’ for 3 very engaging days full of relevant theories, discussion and great mutual support. It was inspiring to hear about the wide range of possibilities for getting research, reflections or dialogues published that we have open to us – something I’ve been meaning to embark on for ages.

So, where are we now?

It’s been great to meet so many dedicated practitioners and learn more about their diverse range of specialisms and projects for the year ahead. What struck me first is how learner-centred they all are at their core. Despite the learner focus, many call for systemic change by practitioners, managers and even whole organisations to enable the desired improvements in learning or student experience.

It’s been fascinating to discuss what the ‘blocks’ might be to our proposed projects and find out what complex webs of stakeholders, systems (and dare I say egos and sensitivities) might stand in our way.

Another pleasing aspect was having set up this hotel-bound community of practice, we are now able to extend our discussions and support of each other via social media. I’d already been involved as a participant in the brilliant Tutor Voices on Facebook and Twitter’s #UKFEchat. Both are great examples of how impetus and vision from people such as Sarah Simons and Lou Mycroft can bring communities of educators together. Now we have another example of how powerful online groups can be for teachers’ motivation, support and knowledge-sharing with our dedicated RDF Facebook page. I think these online communities of practice and inquiry are especially important now much staff CPD is focussed on compliance or the latest initiative – rather than the agenda being set by educators themselves.

I’m looking forward to starting off in earnest after a busy week (when I have safeguarding and two ILM sessions out of the way). One thing I find quite daunting is the ‘gap’ until March before our next Sunderland meeting in March. I’m reminded of that gap of ‘communications silence’ there always was as the space shuttle re-entered the atmosphere!

Thank heavens for our Facebook group, supportive mentors and my 2 ‘locals’. They may be called upon for tea and sympathy when the answer to my research question turns out to be a simple ‘No’ – as that will lead to a report which is 3,499 words lacking, I think.

All I need to do now is get I Wish’ from ‘Into the Woods’ out of my head. For some reason, it’s been going around in an endless loop for about 30 hours now…


Published by ltaylerson

I am a former FE Computing and Teacher Education Curriculum Leader and ex-BBC engineer and trainer. Worcestershire-based, I specialise in teacher education and CPD, educator mentoring, digital skills and pedagogy, I am director of Real Time Education, an independent provider and a keen commentator on further education and digital skills on social media @realtimeedu. I completed a PhD in Education investigating teachers' use of informal social media dialogues for professional learning in April 2020.

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