Reflections and Advice from the Field
Section Four: Trusting the Process
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. —lao-tzu (604–531 bc) A good friend has this famous quote from Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu pinned over her kitchen sink. She says it reminds her to be calm, take things at a steady pace, and not get overwhelmed. For me, it just raises more questions. In which direction should I step? How do I know I’m going in the right direction? What happens if I want to change directions after I take that first step? Getting started with action research can be similarly unnerving. When we initially begin to explore the questions that will guide our action research, there appear to be so many possibilities. We may fear that if we choose the “wrong” one, our entire action research process will fail. Questions will remain unanswered. Goals will go unmet. If this is where you find yourself, you are not alone. Over the years, we’ve worked with many educators who have felt similarly overwhelmed— and we’ve felt this way ourselves at times. The good news is that the recursive nature of action research means that if you step in the “wrong” direction initially, you can always make changes as you go. The ship will right itself if you trust the sails—in this case, the internal voice reminding you what matters most, and the voices of your students and trusted colleagues. Some of the most successful action research experiences start from questions that are a bit wobbly at first,...
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