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Guidelines for BPRS Research Mentors:

(If you click on the link above, you can see these guidelines I wrote with the DfES on the Teachernet.gov.uk website. You need to key in BPRS in the search box)


You are in a privileged position as a research mentor working with teachers and this role carries responsibilities as well as the enjoyment of sharing enquiry.  These guidelines are intended as an helpful framework for your own professional development as well as that of teachers. Mentoring is a two way learning process.  Bearing simple, important guidelines in mind should ensure this as your professional role is a key BPRS ingredient!

Teachers are professional educators who have knowledge that you are helping them to develop.  Your role is not to do research for teachers but to help them do their own research and to inspire them to see research as part of teaching

Your initial role is to help teachers identify a suitable research focus.  Some teachers are not quite sure how to frame a focused question of their own.  It is vital they feel ownership of the research process. Ask them about what really matters to them in their own practice so they identify their embodied values. Using these in explaining their work will help them to create new knowledge.

Research mentoring is not synonymous with tutoring any award bearing courses. Teachers may seek accreditation for their research and hopefully will, because it can add professional gravitas. This is not a requirement of BPRS.

Try to create occasions to help teachers to share their knowledge and ensure that teachers' BPRS reports are being disseminated as widely as possible.

In working with teachers and suggesting the most appropriate kinds of research methodology to help their enquiries, you need to be open-minded.

You need to have a sound understanding and readiness to suggest research methods from a wide range of approaches rather than promoting just one kind.

Research by teachers is not necessarily the same as action research but action research, especially where teachers are asking 'How can I improve my teaching with class X in subject Y?' can be a useful way of approaching enquiry.  You can download a free booklet for action research from www.jeanmcniff.com

Your role is to help teachers synthesise what they find through enquiry into a wider research base and you need to be able to refer to others' research to help the teacher researcher engage with new ideas to broaden their understandings.

Your most important personal quality is the capacity to listen appreciatively. Remember this is not your own research project ɜ it is the teachers' research and you need to listen and synthesize what you hear and mirror it back in a way that will enable the teachers to engage with it creatively and productively.

Your second most important quality is the capacity to ask targeted questions in a sympathetic and supporting way that will encourage a growth of enquiry. Provide time and space for the teachers to develop their own responses to these.  It is tempting to try to provide solutions and sometimes you can and should, but your role is to enable teachers to become more expert researchers.

Have at your disposal a list of useful websites.  Encourage teachers to send in extracts from their own research diaries, their reports on progress, their stories about how and why and where they are researching and their research findings  (with photos) to share with teacher researchers at www.teacherresearch.net Why not send in writings about your work as a research mentor to share too?

Encourage teachers to make contact with and subscribe to appropriate organisations such as BERA, BEMAS and CARN and to liaise with their subject and professional associations

You will need to support teachers as they write up their reports for publicationon the BPRS website www.teachernet.gov.uk/bprs. In addition to the level 1 report they may need advice in deciding whether also to produce a level 2 or level 3 report. It is useful for you to read through their level 1 report before it is submitted to the DfES.

Help teachers in the dissemination of their research findings. You have knowledge and access to a variety of national and international forums, share these with teachers. Where further funding would aid this dissemination encourage teachers to submit a level 3 report to apply for additional funding.

You have a vital role to play in the success of the teacher research movement!

 

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