WHAT IS TEACHERRESEARCH?Eastern Michigan Writing ProjectTeacher Research Group
Teacher Research is….“[an] educational movement, research genre, political and policy critique, challenge to university culture, and lifelong stance on teaching, learning, schooling and educational leadership.”(Cochran-Smith and Lytle, Inquiry as Stance)
Why is TR so important rightnow?According to Our classrooms are under siege. We feel thewell-known flames. And, as teachers, we’re afraid ourteacher students will become the casualties. We’reresearchers bombarded by national educational policies,Elizabeth state assessment mandates, regionalChiseri- curriculum demands, and communityStrater and competition about competencies and forBonnie resources….We need to make our voicesSunstein…. speak through the fire and invite the noisy public to listen.See theirbook WhatWorks: A When we speak as teachers informed by our ownPractical research, we can control the fires and informGuide for the noisy public about what works in ourTeacherResearch classroom. …systematic inquiry is both a form and a method for teacher resistance and teacher agency.
So, what is TR really? Inquiry that isHere’s howone of my Intentional: teachers purposely take on the rolefavorite of teacher researcherteacher Systematic: teachers do more than reflect;researchers they gather data with a purposeful, planned(Marian approachMohr) Public: TRs are open about what they’re doing:describes with other faculty, with students, with parents,it… with administratorsSee her co- Voluntary: TRs take on this role because theyauthored want to, not because it’s been mandatedbook Ethical: TRs are careful to implement changeTeacher in a way that benefits all studentsResearch for Contextual: TRs situate any research in theBetter unique context of their particular classroom,Schools school, district
Belief Structures Underlying TRTraditional or “BigR” Research has • Emphasis on real questions: Whata very differentset of beliefs: do you really wonder about your*That there is• students’ learning or your teaching?one truth awaitingdiscovery • Celebration of context: What are the•*Tthatcontrol/experimen conditions in your own classroom?tal groups thatstrip away contextare the best way • Belief in collaboration: How can youto uncover thattruth learn with/from the students in your-*that the onlyresearch that classroom?really counts isthat which isgeneralizable to • Emphasis on praxis: How can yourthe rest of theworld critical reflection lead to ethical change?
Getting Started with TR Begin with a question: a true wondering Situate the question within a larger context Study your classroom Analyze your data and thematize across your findings Make change and go public!
Finding a QuestionOne way to start is to observe your classroom for a week or two. Take notes on what you’re observing and begin to note the questions you have. Pick one question that stands out to you in some way.Chiseri-Strater and Sunstein suggest you might want to phrase your question as • “I wonder what happens when….” or • “I wonder why…” or • “How does…”
Finding your question (part 2)A research Take some time to really think about yourjournal is a question, taking notes in a research journalmandatory as you go:tool forteacher • Why am I interested in this question?researchers.Use it • What do I think I know already about theregularly to question?record your • What have my experiences shown me?thoughtsabout your • How does the question fit into largerresearchproject. questions I have about teaching?
Situating the question in a largercontextConsider: - The larger conversation in the field: what others have said about your topic. This will lead you to read some journals, books, blogs about your question. - The circumstances of your own classroom: Who are your students? Who are you as their teacher? - What are the ethical considerations in your research? Take some time to write in your journal about these questions.
Studying your classroomSome greatbooks can Collect data on your question:offer tips onhow to - Observation notescollect andanalyze - Interviews (individual anddata: group; formal and informal)Chiseri-StraterandSunstein’sWha - Surveys/Questionnairest Works: APractical Guideto Teacher - Student workResarchHubbard andPower’s TheArt ofClassroomInquiry
Analyzing your dataMore great Read, re-read, re-read your data, as youbooks on search forcollecting - Recurring themesandanalyzing - Examples that support the themesdata: (specific observational moments, quotes from students, lines from their writing,Mohr’sTeacher survey results)Researchers - Moments of disagreementat WorkPower’s Triangulate your data: look to see howTaking Note your interviews, classroom observations, surveys, and student work connect or disconnect.
Making Change and GoingPublic What does it mean to go public?For some Finding a way to implement and share your findings:tips on how • Making changes in your own classroomto write for • Helping others understand what you’ve foundpublication, • Creating a “study of cases” with many teachers’ voicessee LounnReid’s“Writing for Possible genres: Expand your horizons and think outside the box! Ask yourself who you could benefit most from thePublication: research you’ve conducted.Ideas and • Journal articleAdvice” in • Curriculum guidethe April • Professional development workshop2008 English • Parent guideJournal • Presentation at a conference, school board meeting, parent night
For more information on TeacherResearch… Join the EMWP Teacher Research group! Contact Cathy Fleischer (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information or questions