Research organizations like the AERA could harness existing technology to establish a teacher-to-researcher network offering unprecedented information exchange, networking, and mentoring.
This idea is proposed by Sarah Puglisi, a teacher who attended AERA’s Chicago conference and who blogs at A Day in the Life.
In a recent comment on this blog, Sarah made a number of points about the gap between teaching and research, from her perspective as a teacher.
She considers school superintendents ‘gatekeepers’ to education research and she proposes that visionary superintendents should be ‘pushed, invited, and encouraged’ to attend conferences like AERA so they could forge relationships with researchers and each other.
Journalist and panelist Alexander Russo made a similar point, saying he noticed a dearth of education reporters and policymakers at the conference, and wouldn’t it make sense to invite, even cajole, them to attend.
Sarah says that fear predominates teacher climates. “Many worry over assaults on not only our autonomy as decision makers, but assaults on our values, our frames, if you will. Teachers often tell me ‘do what they say.’ And it becomes a massive force to conform and survive. . . what you find is the teacher remarkably fixated on security, not changing.”
Sarah also sees teachers as “barred by layers” from research. But if researchers were to provide easier access to their work, perhaps as a blog, Sarah says it would allow her to connect to those working in similar areas, for example, second-language issues, or students who are tremendously disadvantaged. “I could find in a site a way to get to that [information], or find someone I might hook up with, a kind of ‘teacher/researcher talk and learn.’”
“Or I may have a research project in mind and may want someone to listen and give some insight. I can then begin relationship building. You know that line, ‘Build it, and they will come.’”
She proposes a national teacher-researcher network, designed by a system that specializes in communications facilitation. “AERA could own this,” she says. “It would be a connecting bridge. And I think technology affords the way to envision and realize this.”