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Why Should Teachers Care About Research?

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This post features an interview conducted by the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans team (@era_nola) with former teacher and school leader Amanda Aiken (@AmandaLAiken).

In Monday's post, ERA-New Orleans' Associate Director and Senior Research Fellow Nathan Barrett discussed a conference we hosted last month that brought teachers, researchers, and stakeholders together to discuss the teaching profession in the era of school reform. We had the chance to talk to conference panelist Amanda Aiken, founder and CEO of A.Leigh Solutions, about the event.

ERA-New Orleans: How are events like The Teaching Profession in the Era of School Reform useful for the education community?

Aiken: It is critical for educators, policymakers, non-profit leaders, and other stakeholders to come together and grapple over the hard issues, discuss ideas, and share victories. As educators, we tend to get into our silos or are so focused on the work in front of us that we do not come up for air. Events like ERA-New Orleans' conference, The Teaching Profession in the Era of School Reform, allow us to "come to the balcony" together and turn on an adaptive view to our work. 

ERA-New Orleans: What aspect of the day's conversations resonated with you most?

Aiken: I appreciated the multiple perspectives that each session provided. When you are discussing issues of teacher preparation and retention, it is great to have school leaders talking with the chair of education programs at one of our local HBCUs and researchers who are looking at this work nationally. It is important to have all those voices collectively sharing and coming together.  

ERA-New Orleans: What are other ways we can work to bridge the divide between researchers and practitioners?

Aiken: It is important to continue to bring practitioners and researchers together in the same room to work together. In addition, it is vital for researchers and practitioners to see that they both have a seat at the table in this work and that they need each other. Practitioners need researchers to provide information about best practices and to do the work of looking at issues facing practitioners across the board from local, regional, and national levels. Practitioners do not have the time to do this important work. Inasmuch as practitioners need researchers, researchers need to listen to the voices of practitioners. They are the ones on the ground everyday, in the trenches so to speak. They offer experiences and stories that can inform and contextualize studies; they can also offer new insights to research findings.

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