One of the reasons we are attempting to make the Powerful Knowledge, Powerful Pedagogy project transparent is to highlight the importance of the research partnership in developing and maintaining a school-wide initiative. Cottenham Primary School (CPS) has been working towards implementation of a knowledge-rich curriculum for over a year. Because this is a relatively new goal for primary schools in the UK, classroom resources and professional development are sparse. We feel it is important to document what the school learns as they evolve, and to take a systematic approach to studying their evolution so we can make sense of it and revise along the way.
- USF Scholar-In-Residence at CPS;
- Job-embedded Professional development;
- Summer placement of USF trainee teachers at CPS.
Additionally, there are several factors that are essential for this partnership to thrive. In this post, we discuss Leadership, Trust, and Time.
It is no secret that strong leadership is essential for any initiative to thrive, and a research partnership is no different. CPS leadership is open to and supportive of the research and for the transparent approach we are taking to make it public. USF leadership is supportive of a faculty member serving as Scholar-in-Residence at CPS. USF faculty and CPS staff work together to implement the curriculum and the research, and we do so by acknowledging the strengths we each bring to the table and moving forward with our associated roles. Teachers are leading the implementation and will be the most powerful contributors to us understanding how to successfully implement the knowledge-rich curriculum. As such, they are taking on additional responsibilities by agreeing to participate in the research.
Because of strong leadership, we developed a relationship built on trust. Teachers are agreeing to participate in the research because they trust that time will only be asked of them in order to strengthen the good teaching they already do. Leadership at the school are willing to make the work public because they trust it will support other schools embarking on a similar path. And the faculty member trusts that consideration will be given and new ideas implemented based on the executive summaries provided to the school after each iteration of data collection.
This research partnership did not happen overnight. The trust and leadership noted were developed over an extended period of time and across two continents. CPS and USF have a longstanding relationship through the USF Cambridge Schools Experience program. Trainee teachers from USF become part of the school community for four weeks every summer. The consistency of this program, and of the program staff, connects the two organizations annually. Further, the school opened their doors to me during my research sabbatical in Spring 2016, and we continued to work together to establish a mutually beneficial partnership through the 2016-2017 school year.