Gene Thompson-Grove’s foreward to the second edition of The Reflective Educator’s Guide to Classroom Research begins with a fine definition of the dispositions of a teacher researcher:
All of this, of course, requires certain dispositions. It means we must, at times, slow down and be reflective. We must develop the intellectual side of ourselves — the place where we can open up to others with curiosity and interest, where we can consider options or ideas we hadn’t thought of before. We have to develop the capacity to identify and explicitly work on the questions that matter most to our students — the questions or aspect of our practice that perhaps make us most uncomfortable. When we engage in collaborative inquiry, we become students of teaching and learning for one another, so we have to learn to frame good questions and develop the habit of taking an inquiry stance toward all that we do. We must become comfortable being uncomfortable — and get used to being in the place of not knowing more often, with a greater capacity for ambiguity. In fact, as Dana and Yendol-Hoppey point out, one of the reasons we engage in teacher inquiry is that it honors the complexity inherent in all our teaching. Inquiry insists that we routinely unearth our assumptions — our assumptions about our students and their families, our assumptions about our colleagues and ourselves, our assumptions about achievement and what constitutes a meaningful education — and to examine these assumptions with others — because we believe that the most effective schools have adults in them who are the least satisfied with their practice. We must be willing to collect and make public the evidence from our practice — the data and the students work. We can’t be afraid of hard work, or of saying, “I was wrong.” And we must find courage in community, as we hold each other accountable for acting on what we learn. (page viii)
That’s a mouthful of a quote, but it’s spot on. Teacher research is hard work, work that we’re about to engage in here in my school district. But it’s worth doing. And I pledge, right here and now, again, mostly to myself, but to you, too, that I’ll do my best to honor these dispositions, and to ask nothing less from my colleagues here in St. Vrain who will be doing this work with us.
You come, too.