Teacher Researcher at Work

The Digital Learning Collaborative, a project I love and spend ever more of my time with, will be taking a large cohort of teachers through the work of conducting teacher research on and in their classrooms over the next couple of years.  That’s pretty exciting to me, for teacher research has been in my blood since I was a preservice teacher working as a graduate assistant with one of my favorite teachers ever.  And in the current climate, strategies like teacher research have much to offer teachers as professionals and as voices in educational conversations.

If you don’t know much about teacher research, I’d recommend you start with this handy little quickread.  And, of course, here’s the definition that I work from:

So here we go.  And here I go, as well.

It seems only fair and fitting that, as we facilitate teacher research for others, I engage in a teacher research project of my own.  This is slightly unusual – my “students” in this case are the teachers and students of the school district where I work.  My classroom is spread out over fifty buildings and miles and miles of physical territory.  Further, I work more and more in online spaces, so my classroom includes those spaces, too.

What to look at?  Well, that’s the easy part, I think.  Since I went to work in technology, two spaces have consumed much of my time, our Virtual Campus, a district-wide implementation of Moodle, as well as St. Vrain Blogs, our district’s WordPress MU-powered blog engine, also open to the district as a whole.

I wonder about how these spaces change classroom practice.  I think about how writing, and more generally, composition,  becomes an extension for learning, particularly when there is a public audience for the work.  Who is using these spaces?  To what ends?  How do the use of blogs and online courseware change the experience of teaching and learning in my school district? (Does anything change?)  How are teachers using spaces like these?  Is the learning day extended? What kinds of writing are happening in these spaces? To what effect?

Those are the questions ((They started as these.)) I’ll start with.  As for data – well, we’ve got lots to look at.  The blog engine itself is a public repository of the use of these tools.   What are the ethical implications of studying, in public, a public space where learning is taking place?  I plan to blog my research log, a tool that I’ll use to keep my reflections and observations about what I’m seeing and learning as I study these questions.  In addition, I anticipate that I’ll conduct interviews with people using these tools in my quest to understand their impact.  I intend to publish these recordings, as well, prior to my analysis of them.

One question – and it seems a silly one – but should I start a separate blog over in the district blogging engine to collect all this work, or should I separate it a bit by placing it over here, at my place? I’m leaning towards creating a space there.  But I’m still thinking.

So, um, here goes.  Wish us luck.  If we do this right, we’ll be telling lots of the stories of our classrooms that don’t get told.  And, ideally, we’ll be getting better at teaching and learning through the process.

12 thoughts on “Teacher Researcher at Work

  1. A great post. Thanks for sharing your thinking, research questions, and resources to help me get up to speed following in your footsteps.

    For what it’s worth, I think you should have another blog to aggregate all your research & reflection but cross post it here aggregated around a common tag. You’ve got a could group of folks here to help you figure things out as you go along and having a single repository of everything over there will likely be a good resource to point others to (or reference yourself) in the future.

    It may seem redundant to do both but you’re doing important work. Your backups need backups … y’know what I mean?
    .-= Darren Kuropatwa´s last blog ..Teaching (a pedagogical framework) =-.

  2. Leslie Maniotes says:

    Well, I wish you much luck! After hearing about how many teachers that you have impacted with blogging over your district, I think it will be a great assessment of your work, as well as theirs. I wonder because so many people have so many excuses not to engage in social media… if blogging is worth the time and effort for teachers. And as you analyze the qualitative data about what they are learning, how practice is shifting because of blogging practice and what students are getting from teachers who engage in blogging will provide excellent information to share with others.

    If we are in education we should be doing this level of analysis, so that we can all improve. All the best of luck. I’m looking forward to hearing the results!

    My doc dissertation is a qualitative study- if you’d like info on how to analyze qualitative data, and think I may be able to help…give a holler!

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  7. Thanks so much for sharing this post, excellent resource.

    Good luck!
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