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Why did the story play itself out this way? By answering these two questions, the teacher researcher can acquire a better understanding of the phenomenon under investigation and as a result can end up producing grounded theory regarding what might be done to improve the situation. It is often said that teaching is a lonely endeavor. It is doubly sad that so many teachers are left alone in their classrooms to reinvent the wheel on a daily basis. The loneliness of teaching is unfortunate not only because of its inefficiency, but also because when dealing with complex problems the wisdom of several minds is inevitably better than one.
The sad history of teacher isolation may explain why the very act of reporting on their action research has proven so powerful for both the researchers and their colleagues. The reporting of action research most often occurs in informal settings that are far less intimidating than the venues where scholarly research has traditionally been shared. Faculty meetings, brown bag lunch seminars, and teacher conferences are among the most common venues for sharing action research with peers.
However, each year more and more teacher researchers are writing up their work for publication or to help fulfill requirements in graduate programs.
Regardless of which venue or technique educators select for reporting on research, the simple knowledge that they are making a contribution to a collective knowledge base regarding teaching and learning frequently proves to be among the most rewarding aspects of this work. When teachers write lesson plans or develop academic programs, they are engaged in the action planning process.
What makes action planning particularly satisfying for the teacher researcher is that with each piece of data uncovered about teaching or student learning the educator will feel greater confidence in the wisdom of the next steps. Although all teaching can be classified as trial and error, action researchers find that the research process liberates them from continuously repeating their past mistakes. More important, with each refinement of practice, action researchers gain valid and reliable data on their developing virtuosity.
As stated earlier, action research can be engaged in by an individual teacher, a collaborative group of colleagues sharing a common concern, or an entire school faculty.
These three different approaches to organizing for research serve three compatible, yet distinct, purposes: Building the reflective practitioner Making progress on schoolwide priorities Building professional cultures. When individual teachers make a personal commitment to systematically collect data on their work, they are embarking on a process that will foster continuous growth and development.
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When each lesson is looked on as an empirical investigation into factors affecting teaching and learning and when reflections on the findings from each day's work inform the next day's instruction, teachers can't help but develop greater mastery of the art and science of teaching. In this way, the individual teachers conducting action research are making continuous progress in developing their strengths as reflective practitioners.
Increasingly, schools are focusing on strengthening themselves and their programs through the development of common focuses and a strong sense of esprit de corps. Often an entire faculty will share a commitment to student development, yet the group finds itself unable to adopt a single common focus for action research.
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This should not be viewed as indicative of a problem. Schools whose faculties cannot agree on a single research focus can still use action research as a tool to help transform themselves into a learning organization. They accomplish this in the same manner as do the physicians at the medical center. It is common practice in a quality medical center for physicians to engage in independent, even idiosyncratic, research agendas.
However, it is also common for medical researchers to share the findings obtained from their research with colleagues even those engaged in other specialties. If ever there were a time and a strategy that were right for each other, the time is now and the strategy is action research! This is true for a host of reasons, with none more important than the need to accomplish the following: Professionalize teaching.
Enhance the motivation and efficacy of a weary faculty. Meet the needs of an increasingly diverse student body. Teaching in North America has evolved in a manner that makes it more like blue-collar work than a professional undertaking. Although blue-collar workers are expected to do their jobs with vigilance and vigor, it is also assumed that their tasks will be routine, straightforward, and, therefore, easily handled by an isolated worker with only the occasional support of a supervisor.
Professional work, on the other hand, is expected to be complex and nonroutine, and will generally require collaboration among practitioners to produce satisfactory results. With the exploding knowledge base on teaching and learning and the heightened demands on teachers to help all children achieve mastery of meaningful objectives, the inadequacy of the blue-collar model for teaching is becoming much clearer. When the teachers in a school begin conducting action research, their workplace begins to take on more of the flavor of the workplaces of other professionals.
The wisdom that informs practice starts coming from those doing the work, not from supervisors who oftentimes are less in touch with and less sensitive to the issues of teaching and learning than the teachers doing the work. Furthermore, when teachers begin engaging their colleagues in discussions of classroom issues, the multiple perspectives that emerge and thus frame the dialogue tend to produce wiser professional decisions. The work of teaching has always been difficult.
But now it isn't just the demands of the classroom that are wearing teachers down. Students increasingly bring more problems into the classroom; parental and societal expectations keep increasing; and financial cutbacks make it clear that today's teachers are being asked to do more with less.
Worse still, the respect that society had traditionally placed upon public school teachers is eroding, as teacher bashing and attacks on the very value of a public education are becoming a regular part of the political landscape. Consequently, teacher burnout has become the plague of the modern schoolhouse. Action research is just one of them. Action Research can be termed as the study of the learning environment like the school or classroom with the intention of improving the teaching. It is scientific and systematic, involving inquiry and contextual professional development. The process is reflective and it is usually motivated by growth and improvement in teaching.
There are various steps involved in action research. They basically involve the identification of the problem, determining the needs or methods of data collection, collection and analysis of data, creation of an action plan, description of the use of the findings, report as well as the future plan. The process is usually cyclical. The steps are vital in ensuring professionalism, completeness as well as validity of the action research.
It usually requires regular observation. Most teachers when asked about action research have observed that it is usually very significant in ensuring professional or even professional growth. It helps them in becoming role models and in impacting their colleagues. They become agents of change and change their modes of giving instructions hence, witnessing general improvement in their service delivery. They in the process become credible teachers.
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Teachers who have been consulted seem to be sure of the fact that action research aids in boosting their confidence and hence improving their efficiency in service delivery. They are able to redesign the way they issue the instructions. They become empowered and hence are able effectively deliver their talents, and come up with creative ideas that help them to meet the needs of the learners.
They are able to implement programs or even acquire others skills. Most of them after doing action research they are in a position to develop greater autonomy, they develop problem solving skills and they are able to effectively use data from their respective classrooms. Action research is very vital in ensuring that the respective goals are accomplished. Action research enables the teachers to be the authors of their own research. They participate in the creation as well as accomplishment of their own goals and this drives them towards the accomplishment of the same.
They take part in the setting of goals for development. One of the teachers consulted observed that significant transformation was observed in his communication with the colleagues after action research occurred. The conversations from colleagues turned from polite talks to comprehensive conversations. The dialogues become helpful and the relationship with the other teachers was greatly enhanced. Collaboration and teamwork was greatly boosted. Action research helps the teacher to turn from the traditional methods of teaching to those methods that are modern and effective hence ensuring the satisfaction of the needs of the students.
It is therefore very important in ensuring professional development for the teachers. Studies have proved that action research is very vital in the overall improvement in the performance of a school on a long-term basis.
There are some teachers who have no idea about action research yet indulge in other activities that are geared towards ensuring professional development some of which include routine reflection by the teachers. A study done on two teachers Mary and Rita showed that even some of the qualified teachers from college have no idea about action research although some of them might have the knowledge of some of its elements like data collection as well as methods of analysis.
This greatly influences their service delivery. Some of them like Rita have an experience of many years in the teaching profession with the desire for professional development yet they might have no idea about action research. Most of the reflection done by them is informal and it might not necessarily be directed towards ensuring that their goals are met and the needs of the students are met as well. They do it unconsciously. Teachers who do not employ action research in their teaching are less likely to meet the desired goals in their teaching and they might not be able to witness professional development.
Some of them might encounter challenges which could be solved by carrying out action research, but because of ignorance, they might not be in a position to effectively tackle the problem. The reflective practices carried out by most of them can only be effective if it is coupled with action research.
According to the training done, it is quite evident that the action research process is systematic and it has to be carried out using the appropriate procedures and techniques like coming up with a research plan, outlining research questions, setting timeline with the intention of reviewing the information, implementing the action research project data collection as well as analysis and the sharing of the same.