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Emily Fox
Reflection on Teacher Research
Sun Dec 7, 2014 18:36
104.138.184.87

Participating in this project has really opened my eyes to the possibilities of my job as a teacher. I no longer see myself as simply the "giver of knowledge" or a person who must carry out a mandated curriculum. I now see myself as a professional, who makes well-informed, research-based decisions with intentions of expanding the learning process in my classroom.

When I first began thinking about a research topic, I was interested in the fact that qualitative measures of data were a main form of collecting data. This intrigued me because we've been so "data-driven" in recent years, but without this qualitative piece. I have gotten so sick of children being a number and teacher being judged by another number that I felt that what was ACTUALLY happening in our classrooms didn't seem to matter anymore. All anyone cared about were the results. However, teacher research has given me a different perspective on how to thrive in an data-driven society. Yes, I must have evidence of what works...but it doesn't always have to be in the form of a number or score. Hallelujah!

I agree with Pappas & Tucker-Raymond when they say that teacher research "entails mindfulness on your part: paying attention, consciously looking or what is new and different, reconsidering what you know by questioning preconceived ideas." I would consider myself, on average, to be a very reflective teacher. I've always felt the need to look for better ways of doing things. But throughout this project, I have found my reflection to be much more intentional, which in turn made my instruction much more intentional. This research project has helped me to understand the power of collaboration and the importance of professional conversations amongst teachers, not just at my own school, but at others as well. We all face similar challenges and all of us can contribute to the conversations.

It is interesting that Pappas and Tucker-Raymond believe this type of research can often prevent "burnout" of teachers, because it keeps education "an exciting and vitalized venture". While I somewhat agree with that, if I'm completely honest, I will say that teacher research was hard work! It made some days at work much more stressful as I had to make sure I got in that specific lesson that I'm inquiring about. The reflections, while very insightful, were also time-consuming and at times, felt redundant. I think part of this was because this was an assignment in a course, with due dates. The constrictions of time were a big part of this project that made me feel overwhelmed. I feel that in the future, if I were to do another inquiry research project, I would feel more accomplished by expanding the amount of time in the project. I would like to see the effects of the same project over the course of a year versus four weeks.

One of the biggest takeaways from this project for me is the confidence gained in what I'm doing in the classroom. It was a very proud moment to send my bar graph of growth after the project to parents to show how much their child grew in just 4 weeks. I feel more comfortable and confident in the practices I use in my classroom and am willing to share those gains with colleagues. Many times, I think we do things in our classrooms that ARE working, we just don't take the time to really look at the data to show that it is. This project really helped me see that the extra efforts I put into teaching vocabulary for just a short amount of time paid off.

I do plan to continue using the strategies from our research plan because they showed positive growth. While I may not necessarily take as many detailed notes and collect data as often as I did in the project, I do feel the reflective process to be a more important aspect of my instruction than it was before.

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