Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Three Views of Teachers as Researchers: The Truth behind the Title

I liked the first article and its simple, yet clear definition of the topic. The fact they used the six key words as prompts probably helped them to stay focused on their goal.

Teacher researchers are the topic of everything we have been studying. The six descriptive words, given in the first essay were helpful in its clarification. It would clearly be intentional, as all research begins with a purpose. Deciding on the topic and then exploring it “as an important aspect of teaching and learning” (23). Any research starts out on a given path which often changes direction as the process intensifies. The intended goal should be a better understanding of the intended topic as well as the paths traversed during the learning process.
The next descriptive word is systematic; the claim is that teacher researchers use methods and strategies to carefully document their findings. They also identify and discuss theories and assumptions, as they collect and analyze data for triangulation .Comparison is constant as they challenge findings and discuss the different interpretations of their colleagues. This systematic process creates a clearer picture of their research process.
Moving along, this research is deemed a public endeavor as it encourages challenges and different perspectives. Voluntary seems obvious; this is a choice which involves risk as teachers re-examine their teaching process. They must be honest about the value of their in-class projects.
That brings us to ethical; I would really hope this would be at the core of the process. A teachers primary responsibility should be to their students, so they would seemingly strive to “collect data that is representative” (25) and involve students to discuss, examine, and challenge their findings. Which leads us to its contextual aspect; this descriptive value is needed for both teaching and learning processes. The ability to explain and clarify the entire context, on which it is based, helps unearth the assumptions within. 

The second essay “The Teacher as Researcher” by Marian M. Mohr was delightful. She documents her road to becoming a teacher-researcher as something I could see myself doing. She found she needed to write down what was happening in the classroom; as a new teacher, things were happening to fast to process. The ability to write down what is overwhelming so you can read it over later, when you have time and presence of mind, is a reassurance you’re not missing something important. You might leave something out but you are trying to keep track of as much as possible. Through this process, she found that she was able to be more attentive but also was getting to understand her class and its habits. I especially liked her “oops” moment with the word aggressive. The ability to openly learn from her students, helped them recognize that although she was teaching them, they were learning together.
Her respect for the students learning/ writing process was inspiring as well as interesting. The various noises and habits seem very distracting, yet they made it work and she incorporated their help in deciding on class topics. This all began with her keeping that journal; I can see myself doing something similar if I become the teacher I hope to be. It is interesting how her thinking evolved from someone who was against the idea of teacher-researchers to the understanding she gained, through her simple desire to become a good teacher for her students.
The last study included teachers from different levels of education who were interested in classroom/ teacher research. Some of these had participated in a pilot seminar through the National Writing Project and the National Center for the Study of Writing. The seminar was a bi-weekly meeting for three hours in the evening, with activities to help formulate and examine questions on writing from a teachers view.

Based on the Marian Mohr model, the impressive essay discussed above, teachers met in a relaxed atmosphere, and shared ideas as they experimented to see what might work. The facilitator (Mike) guided them to share their reflections with colleagues as well as through writing. He reminded them that: “Process (was) more important than product.”
The findings were that teachers needed more TIME to sit down and write. They felt the structure and content of the group meetings needed additional comments, but the positive outcomes were reflection, networking, and a renewed view of themselves as professionals. They enjoyed the journal sharing and discussions and many had individual research “odysseys.” Most felt their teaching performance improved by this classroom-based research, and felt they had become “more reflective practitioners.”
There was an increased interest in the work of other researchers from this experience, a sort of professional evolution. Almost all of the teachers submitted papers to “validate their own perceptions." As one participant noted: “Collecting data makes me ask good questions of kids who give me good answers, answers that help me improve as a teacher.” That sounds like the most important results for the educators in attendance.

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