[I’m working on my masters so this is a response to my reading this week.]
“Teacher Research is a natural extension of good teaching” (Shagory, 2008)
Have you ever… critique of the classroom
Have you ever walked into a classroom and all the students are sitting working on worksheets the whole class period? Or maybe students sit and listen to long lectures and never participate? Although education has called for personalized learning, our classrooms are slowly responding to that call. Why does this matter? Because when our classrooms are not set up to allow educators to view education through our students eyes teacher research can’t truly begin to happen.
The year I began running guided math and reading groups was the year I realized I talked too much. It’s so difficult to know and see education through the eyes of your students if your students don’t have the platform to share their thinking. When I decided to sit back and be quiet I learned far more about my students than I could have ever taught them.
Learning how to “see learning through the eyes of our students” can lead to “what shapes our research.” (Shagory, 2008) But first we have to see.
The Scientific Method
The scientific method follows a few steps:
- Ask questions
- Make predictions
- Collect data
- Draw conclusions
As teachers we are constantly in this balance of asking questions, trying new things, seeing if it worked, and starting the method over again. Driving our teaching research we should be “building on the teachers strengths rather than criticizing “real or alleged” difficulties.” (Shagoury, 2008) This means we should drive our teacher research on things that we feel confident about and work through the scientific method to improve our craft and identify problems.
Push against collection of mass data
There is an obsession with data in education. At least in elementary schools we are pressured to based all of our instruction on arbitrary data from standardized tests. This admittedly has turned many off to collecting and analyzing data because most don’t see the point to it.
When “teacher research” is mentioned some minds may go right back to the standardized testing data that has to be obsessively scrutinized over. But Shangoury pushes against this thinking. Shangoury claims that collecting data is not just a numbers game it is zooming into the little things to help shape the big ones. It is a natural extension of good teaching. It’s about making one degree shifts, not mass data collection and analysis.
Teachers can use a method that works best for them when collecting teacher research data. This is about making the teacher comfortable. This should not be an impossible task which piles on top of a teacher’s already busy schedule but an extension of what the teachers are already doing.
Improving your strengths
By observing my students and making small changes in the classroom teachers can improve on my strengths as a teacher and focusing less on all weaknesses. By focusing on teachers strengths, teachers have the confidence to make changes on the problems that they are observing as they arise.
Teacher research is not a “gotcha” exercise. It’s perfecting an already beautiful dance. If teacher’s focused more on making small shifts in their teaching based on teacher collected data rather than tearing themselves down for “poor test score data” education would have a revolutionary system.
Let’s build teachers up. Then they will have the confidence to make the change.
Abigail teaches 5th grade science and math to her fabulous kiddos in Cincinnati. She earned her BA at Judson University in Chicago-land and is working on her Masters in Teaching at Miami University through the Ohio Writing Project. She has a passion for integrating writing and reading into all contents. She loves coffee about as much as her husband and baby son… and is a self-proclaimed lifetime learner. Catch up with daily happenings and ramblings on Twitter @mrsablund via email Abigaillund@foresthills.edu or check out other writings by Abigail https://movingwriters.org/category/abigail-lund/