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Surviving and Thriving with Teacher Action Research

Reflections and Advice from the Field


Edited By Heather Lattimer and Stacey Caillier

Action research can be a transformative learning experience that strengthens educators’ practice and empowers our voices. For the novice action researcher, however, it can sometimes be frustrating, isolating, and overwhelming. Surviving and Thriving with Teacher Action Research is an outstanding companion for educators embarking on the action research journey. The book shares the collected wisdom of more than thirty experienced teacher researchers. Designed to guide readers through the research process, the book is divided into five sections that reflect critical components of action research: developing a research question, designing a plan, engaging student voice, implementing the research process, analyzing data and sharing results. Relevant for both novice and seasoned action researchers, Surviving and Thriving is perfect for use in graduate education coursework, among professional learning communities, or by teachers embarking on action research independently. The text design, which includes introductory statements and guiding questions for each section, allows the book to stand alone as a guide for action research or it can serve as an outstanding complement to a more traditional, procedurally focused action research methods textbook.


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Section Three: Engaging Student Voice


When I first started my research I wasn’t aware how different the students’ perception is from my perception. I learned to ask them questions and then listen to them. I just find that to be the most helpful thing, just directly asking them … That’s one huge thing I learned from AR. This statement, shared by one of the graduates of our teacher education program, echoes the sentiments of many who have gone through action research—a crit- ical element of our learning as teacher researchers comes from learning to listen to our students’ voices. This concept seems obvious; after all, as teachers we en- counter student voices all day, every day. But learning to step back and really hear what they are saying is, unfortunately, not always a standard part of our teaching practice. This is understandable. We are busy, there are always competing student demands, some student complaints are way off base, and let’s face it, sometimes it can be pretty intimidating to ask students for their honest input. But when we slow down and open the conversation to listen to student voices we often learn remarkable things about our students, our teaching, and ourselves. In my own teaching some of my most powerful learning took place when I listened to the voices of my students. As a brand new high school history teacher I was initially annoyed and somewhat insulted when my students asked the pro- verbial question “Why do we have to learn this?” I thought that...

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