School leaders, teachers and instructional specialists will be among those attending next month’s researchED conference, an event that seeks to make “evidence-supported” school improvement more accessible to educators, Eric Kalenze, the organizer of the conference, says in an EducationNext interview.
While the annual American Educational Research Association conference tends to draw researchers and policy experts, Kalenze says the goal of researchED, which began in the U.K., is to connect with those working in the classroom and to help them become better informed about the latest school reform initiatives.
Instead of long sessions, researchEd’s format features brief, 40-minute sessions with “intense bursts of learning, thinking, and interacting,” Kalenze says in the interview. While the Oct. 7 event held at Achievement First Brooklyn High/Uncommon Charter High School won’t be live streamed, Twitter users can follow #rEDNY17.
Kalenze says it’s important for educators to better understand issues such as sample size, context and impacts on students and not only consider teachers’ impressions of a particular practice as evidence.
The conference is not only an effort to strengthen the connections between research and the instructional practices that take place in schools, but is also another example of how teachers are driving their own professional learning initiatives. In the U.K., teacher enthusiasm turned what was supposed to be a one-time event into an ongoing movement.
In the U.S., EdCamp, also a teacher-led initiative, began in a similar way and has now grown to over 1,500 EdCamps in 35 countries, with participants continuing to share their learning through social media. Many school districts are also supporting teacher leadership by holding their own events with sessions led by teachers. The Syracuse (NY) City School District, for example, held a "summer summit" in August, featuring many teacher-led sessions.