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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 Five: Sharing the Work


Teacher research is a gift: to the profession, helping us change the way we see old prob- lems and bringing us new solutions; to research communities, showing us new strategies and how to take risks in writing up research; to ourselves, reminding us of the energy and passion in learning that made us teachers in the first place. —shaGoury & power, 2012, p. 239 Too often, as teachers we struggle to find our voice. We are comfortable and confident using our voices in the classroom, but when it comes to policy discus- sions, reform initiatives, or advocacy, we find ourselves silenced. A prospective graduate student, describing her desire to pursue an advanced degree, recently related an incident where she had been in the room with a group of principals and superintendents. “I was really interested in what they were saying,” she said, “but I didn’t know how to participate. I didn’t have the language to engage in the conversation.” Doing and sharing action research helps us find our voices. Systematically investigating our classroom practice, collecting and analyzing data, critically read- ing others’ research, and talking through our work with students, colleagues, and mentors—all of these practices help to give us evidence and the language needed to engage in the conversation. Our own studies following the experiences of graduates from our programs found that they demonstrated greater confidence when speaking with parents and administrators, a more analytical approach to district and state reforms, and a stronger voice as teacher leaders within...

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