- Is there something you’ve wanted to investigate about teaching and learning but haven’t been sure where to start?
- Do you think research is only for academics?
- Have you ever considered the idea that you could be a teacher researcher?
Perhaps the TLRI fund could help you to contribute to understandings of teaching and learning. It’s worth thinking about.
A little before Christmas, there was the low-key announcement of this year’s successful applicants for TLRI funding.
What’s ‘TLRI’, you ask?
We’ll, it’s one of the education community’s best-kept secrets. I say it’s a secret, because not many teachers in early childhood, primary, or secondary that I know have ever heard of it. This is despite it being available for teachers out there keen to research teaching and learning to apply for.
‘TLRI’ stands for the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative. It’s a funding pool that was set up in 2003, and seeks to ‘enhance the links between educational research and teaching practices to improve outcomes for learners’.
Check out the website www.tlri.org.nz
Research not for you?
So, research may not sound like it’s for you – but wait – what’s fantastic about the TLRI approach is that it is designed to bring teachers and experienced researchers together to work in partnership.
You won’t be left on your own…
…it’s a collaborative thing
I’m about to participate in my third TLRI project. In each of these projects I’ve had a slightly different role. But the thing I love most about these projects is that they have come from what teachers in early childhood centres and primary classrooms have been really interested in finding out more about.
Usually, I’ve been approached in some way (along with others), because they know we are interested in this area too, and then we’ve all worked together to design the project. So, from day one, the projects are collaborative and they’re about the everyday things the group are interested in investigating further.
…and you have mentors
Typically, these projects have nominated lead teachers and more experienced researchers (who are used to doing this sort work, and know all the ins and outs) leading the way. Others get involved along the way. The good thing about having experience in the mix is that when it comes to things like ethics, analysis, and writing, those with the experience can guide others new to research through these steps.
A key to the approach we’ve always taken in the past is: the teachers we work with are not being researched; rather, they are being researchers. I think most of the teachers I’ve worked with never saw themselves as researchers in the beginning—but they certainly do now.
My experience as a collaborative researcher
The first project I was part of was about the draft key competencies in action, and the connection between these and the learning dispositions of the early childhood curriculum Te Whāriki. This was a big team effort, with teachers from 3 schools and 2 early childhood centres, professional development facilitators, and academics from two Universities over 3 years. Check out the final research report of the TRLI site
The second one we are just finishing now. It’s a two-year project about children’s working theories in action in five playcentre settings. We’ve published a few articles on this project now, and there are a couple more to come.
A new project has just been announced, and is about learning journeys from early childhood into school. This is a three-year project and will be based in two early childhood settings and two schools that have been keen to explore this topic in more depth for a while now.
Expressions of interest for the funding for 2012 open on March 1 2011 and close on May 11 2011, so it’s time to act. If you want to talk to a member of CORE’s research team about the fund, or a possible project, get in touch.
Who knows, maybe you’ll be a teacher researcher before you know it.