On April 13 and 14 in Toronto, OSSTF/FEESO sponsored Canada’s second-ever researchED conference, researchED Ontario. The conference attracted more than 285 attendees, and about two-thirds of those were OSSTF/FEESO members.
ResearchED is a grassroots movement from the UK that encourages teachers and education workers to insist that education practices and initiatives must be evidence-based and empirically proven to be effective before they are adopted by schools or school boards. To that end, researchED brings together researchers and teachers and education workers to share data, studies and informed practices.
Tom Bennett, co-founder of researchED, opened the conference on Friday evening with a keynote speech about evidence-based approaches to student behaviour. A second keynote was delivered on Saturday morning by Professor Daniel Willingham of the University of Virginia, who spoke about what educators need to know about educational psychology.
The bulk of the conference—comprising 40 workshops presented by researchers and educators from Canada, the US and Europe—was originally scheduled to take place at Mississauga Secondary School on Saturday, April 14, but an impending ice-storm compelled the Peel District School Board to cancel all events because of weather and liability concerns. Conference organizers were forced to scramble and work with staff at the host hotel, the Westin Toronto Airport, who were able to arrange for rooms to accommodate all of the Saturday workshops.
OSSTF/FEESO President Harvey Bischof was among the workshop presenters, hosting a session called “What’s the Union Doing Here?” In his presentation, Bischof explained how the stated goals of researchED align closely with the interests of OSSTF/FEESO members, many of whom have expressed, both individually and through member surveys, that ministry-mandated and school board-led initiatives, most of which are of dubious value, frequently result in increased workload and ineffectual use of members’ time.
The conference closed with a panel discussion on The Future of Evidence-Informed Education, and a number of those in attendance remained well into Saturday evening for an informal reception with the speakers and workshop presenters.