Unplugged Action Reseach Group

3 Oct

I had always assumed that promotions were a good thing. You know – more money, more job freedom, more responsibility – all good stuff. And at the outset, my experiences matched my expectations. Starting as a full-time teacher, I then became a Cambridge Examiner, then a teacher training coordinator, and then a CELTA trainer. So far, so good.

Until… I became the Director of Studies. Sure there was a raise and a lot of job freedom but at what cost? An unwanted shift in my relationship with new teachers, getting up early every morning, dealing with unhappy students/parents, and worst of all, no teaching! While I still get to do teacher training and the occasional substitution, I never have a class of my own. Theoretically I could assign myself a class, but it would have to be on top of my regular work load and without pay. I love teaching but really…

Thankfully, I’ve got the go ahead to start an Action Research Group next January as our school plans to move into a much larger, newer building. This group (another teacher’s idea) will consist of volunteer students who come twice a week for an hour and a half. There will be no coursebook or preset syllabus and anyone can join in. In a wonderfully unilateral decision, I’ve made myself the teacher although others are welcome to teach a class if they are interested in experimenting with different methodologies, activities, or are just interested in doing a little research. The idea is that we then have staff presentations were we can share our experiences. For my part I would love to experiment more with Dogme without the institutional constraints we usually have in place.

So… if anyone has any wonderful ideas they would like to have trialed, please leave a comment and I would be happy to incorporate them into my lessons. I’m sure I’ll be ‘borrowing’ many of the ideas I’ve read about on the blogosphere as well as ones from my colleagues. Also, if anyone has any suggestions for how to make this experiment a success, I’m all ears!


5 Responses to “Unplugged Action Reseach Group”

  1. bealer81 October 4, 2011 at 4:40 am #

    Hi Ben,

    Interesting blog. I am starting my own small scale action research project on exactly the same thing at my school, IH Santander. In fact my first class is tonight. Slightly nervous but more excited at the possibilities and challenges coming my way. I will be blogging about the experience here http://fiveagainstone.wordpress.com/. I would be very interested to swap ideas and hear what you have down on paper so far.

    I look forward to hearing from you.


    • Ben Naismith October 4, 2011 at 8:02 am #

      Thanks for the link Adam – I’d be happy to swap any ideas I come up with, and as you’ve got a head start I’ll definitely be reading your blog to see how things are going!

  2. grahamcoke October 5, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    This sounds really interesting. I start seeing lots of juicy, sciency bits in the horizon: control groups, replication, peer review, reporting, application for open and in-school courses… Plus, I think research is a natural development milestone for the school. One could almost see it coming.

    I’ll let you know if I think of or hear anything interesting.

  3. Mike Harrison October 7, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    So wish I could do something along similar lines, Ben. Alas, strict-ish courses, sadly judged on getting learners through exams in FE, coupled with multiple teachers teaching my group, mean I haven’t been able to organise any un lugged research myself. Look forward with interest to how you get on. I’ve written about various dogme/unplugged moments and lessons I’ve had, as well as some activities on my blog : http://www.mikejharrison.com/tag/dogme. Feel free to use any you think might work with your groups.

    • Ben Naismith October 7, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

      All you have to do is become the boss and then assign yourself an unplugged class! There are probably easier ways but I haven’t come across one yet… I’ll definitely check out your blog and pillage it for ideas.


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