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As university-based educational researchers interested in school-based pedagogies around technology enhanced learning (TEL), we worked with various stakeholders during Covid-19 lockdowns, with many commenting how ‘uplifting’ they found contact during these difficult times. Despite the backdrop of global risks, this became a ‘special time’, recognising that participation during Covid-19 required exceptional emotional resources of schoolteachers. Now three years after the ‘lockdowns’, school closures and rapid online teaching associated with Covid-19 globally, how do we check-in with colleagues after these extraordinary events?

In this blog post we reflect upon our comparative research adopting Brookfield’s (1995) ‘critical lenses’. Our aim is to explore the post-Covid-19 legacy for TEL in schools, thinking about how teachers make ‘design choices’ through their engagement with technology. We have designed an approach, outlined in stages below, that helps us to use the previous samples of our Covid-19 research now as ‘critical friends’ in new forthcoming research, connecting them to new teachers in new national samples from both Greece and England.

Previously, Kidd has explored the Covid-19 experience of teachers, teacher educators and school communities (Kidd & Murray, 2022) with early data disseminated through the BERA Blog (see The rise of the flexible and remote teacher and Agility, return and recovery). Misirli and Komis have explored Covid-19 TEL through pupils, teachers, parents and leaders’ voices, creating pen portraits of exemplarity practice under challenging circumstances. What has united our work is an interest in the ‘pedagogic agility’ (Kidd & Murray, 2022) displayed by teachers in our respective nations. Our current project is comparative, drawing and uniting samples from both England and Greece, adopting what we call here our ‘Close Approximation Model’ (CAM).

The centrality of ‘reflective practice’ in both formal and informal teacher education and professional learning is widespread within the field. Seminal ideas are ‘critical lenses’ (for example student perspectives, colleague perspectives, research literature, participants’ (teachers’) autobiographical experience) developed by Brookfield (1995). We incorporate reflection into the research design to enable participants to have a closer proximity to the data and for the data to have a closer proximity to practice – essential for reflexivity. The lenses of Brookfield help to ensure we get ‘as close as possible’ to the lived experience of teachers making technology-enhanced design choices in their pedagogy. We achieve this through our CAM approach, adopting multiple samples as outlined below.

‘We incorporate reflection into the research design to enable participants to have a closer proximity to the data and for the data to have a closer proximity to practice – essential for reflexivity.’

The Close Approximation Model (CAM)

Preparation (stages in parallel)

Stage 1: Research literature lens. Intervention with a new teacher sample from Greece and England, looking at their TEL practices and providing some input and intervention of ideas, models, case studies and practices they might wish to adopt themselves. These take the form of professional development sessions developing a transnational community across both nations, where ideas, theories, examples, models and insights from research-informed literature are disseminated. These ‘thinking tools’ help the sample explore practice and reflexivity in the later stages of our CAM processes, most notably Stage 3.

Stage 2: Learner lens. Pupil/student voice research. In addition to the teacher sample across Greece and England we also are developing a corresponding student or pupil sample. We conduct semi-structured interviews with learners exploring the nature of TEL and desires around TEL practice. These samples come from the same schools and educational contexts as the teachers in Stage 1.

Approximation 1: Reflection

Stage 3: Autobiographical lens. Focus groups with teachers. The same teachers from the intervention in Stage 1, from both Greece and England, collaborate in focus groups, using the thinking tools and the anonymised pupil data from Stage 2. They use these as stimuli for reflexivity around TEL practices.

Approximation 2: Critique

Stage 4: Colleagues’ lens. Panel critique. Panels scrutinise the data captured through Stages 2 and 3. Here we draw upon our previous samples of teachers, parents and pupils in previous research we have undertaken as an authoritative voice, unpacking and sense-checking coded data (see BNIM narrative research (Wengraf, 2001)). In this way we use our Covid-19 sample of teachers as critical friends, recognising their ongoing experience. We are therefore able to continue to meaningfully work alongside colleagues who gave up their precious time during the extreme challenges and vulnerabilities of the pandemic and associated lockdowns.

Stage 5: Closer Proximity. We share our data with all involved above, for a final sense-check, given our obligation to ensure that participants’ voices run through the model.

In this blog post we have outlined our new working model for ‘closer to reflection’ research practices through the adoption of our CAM model. We are looking forward to the opportunity to work alongside new participants and also those from previous research, revisiting the colleagues we worked with during the Covid-19 lockdowns those three years ago.


Brookfield, S. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. Jossey-Bass.

Kidd, W., & Murray, J. (2022). Educators’ perspectives of online teaching during the pandemic: Implications for initial teacher education. Journal of Education for Teaching, 48(4), 393–406.

Wengraf, T. (2001). Qualitative research interviewing: Biographic narrative and semi-structured method. Sage.