Professor Rachel Lofthouse
About Professor Rachel Lofthouse
Rachel Lofthouse is Professor of Teacher Education in the Carnegie School of Education. She has a specific research interest in professional learning, exploring how teachers learn and how they can be supported to put that learning into practice.
Rachel is a practicing teaching educator, as well as a researcher. Her interest starts with student teachers, but extends to teachers and educators at all career stages and in all sectors. Ensuring that teachers keep learning is critical when the policy and practice landscapes of education keep shifting. Rachel has a particular interest in how teachers learn through approaches such as coaching, lesson study, professional enquiry and inter-professional practice. She marries these interests with a concern for the development of innovative pedagogies and curriculum design. Key to all of these are the opportunities for dialogue and creative and critical thinking, but the constant struggle is to find the spaces and levers in the system that enable and permit these.
Prior to taking up her current role in July 2017 Rachel was senior lecturer at Newcastle University, and co-director for the Research Centre for Learning and Teaching (CfLaT). She works with student teachers and their school-based mentors, teacher coaches, postgraduate students and school leaders as well as a range of educational practitioners, including those interested in community curriculum development and professional coaching for speech and language support in multicultural early years and primary settings. She encourages professionals to find practices through which they can build their workplace expertise while developing critical reflection and their ability to contribute to, and draw productively on, the knowledge base for teaching and learning. Rachel has published in peer-reviewed journals on the subjects of coaching and mentoring, the innovative use of video to support practice development, practitioner enquiry and professional learning. She also writes regularly for professional publications and websites. Through these diverse roles she supports individuals to make a positive impact on the educational outcomes for their own learners and communities.
Rachel’s ongoing research is orientated towards the transformation of professional learning through partnerships of scholarship and practice development. For example, with colleagues from Birmingham and Cardiff Metropolitan Universities she is researching student teachers’ conceptions of learning to teach. She continues to research how educational workplaces can both offer, and constrain, professional learning, with a current focus on coaching and lesson study and the inter-relationships between practice, well-being, professional learning and leadership. Teacher recruitment and retention are challenges both in the UK and internationally and Rachel’s research relates to creating opportunities for teachers to experience career success and the knowledge that their contribution makes a difference to learners, colleagues and communities. In all of these areas of work there is a focus on teacher learning and self-determination, professional collaboration and collective efficacy. There is also a need to develop professionals who demonstrate adaptive expertise and who benefit from and contribute to ecological agency.
Rachel has recently been an invited keynote speaker at the 5th National Conference for Coaching in Education, organised by Growth Coaching International in Melbourne, Australia, and also took her research-based professional development practice into schools in Sydney.