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Surviving and Thriving with Teacher Action Research

Reflections and Advice from the Field

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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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Chapter Four: Building on Success: Recalling the Past to Inspire Action Research in a New Context

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CHAPTER FOUR

Building on Success

Recalling the Past to Inspire Action Research in a New Context

JOHANNA SIMKO



INSPIRATION AMPLIFICATION: FINDING MY OWN UNIQUE SPIN

As our research course instructor began describing the process of identifying a focus for our action research, I was filled with excitement—this was why I had decided to come to graduate school. I loved the opportunity to really own this work, to choose a topic that would respond to the needs of my school and allow me to grow personally and professionally. I left class that evening flooded with ideas, but soon realized that I was lacking direction. Countless nights of staring at my bedroom ceiling, thinking through a hundred different action research options, left me exhausted. If you knew me you’d know that I have a tendency to overthink, that this was not the first time I found myself staring at my ceiling. I spent too many nights listening to my alarm clock lull me to sleep with the sound of waves crashing on the beach. I was doing my best to trick my brain into turning off, it needed to rest … but this strategy stopped working as flashbacks of my professor discussing work of value, work of impact, work that matters, work that’s beautiful consumed me …

It occurred to me that part of the problem resulted from being asked to think as a school leader....

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