Friday, June 24, 2011

Through the Looking Glass - Teacher Self-Study

Over the past few months I've been reading about, and investigating issues around, teacher self-study.  (Another form is Action Research - Dr Roger Peckover, MEd., explains this well).

Why should teachers examine their practice?  This has been the central focus question for the research / investigation.  I believe it comes down to knowing the 'why' of what we do - I seem to focus on this quite a bit, but I make no apologies for this as I think it's so important to be able to articulate why we teach and learn with our students in a particular way.  If we can't do this then what impact does what we do on a minute-by-minute, day-by-day basis have on what our students can achieve?

The research supports the importance of being able to study aspects of our practice in depth but there are also many questions around this.  How do we fit this into an already packed day?  Can we afford not to?  How do we make sure that teacher self-study is valued by all members of the school community?  How do we support teachers in being able to complete this form of inquiry into their practice?  The information gained from this form of reflection is incredibly valuable but how do we then disseminate it?  How do we get it 'out there' so that we are informing not only ourselves but the wider community in general and the education community specifically.

It is also suggested that teacher self-study is one way of making sure that change happens in teaching and learning, particularly for our 21st Century Learners.  Could this be the answer to making sure that the education system we have now, begins to become the education system that we need - not just a variation of the one that has always been?

What's the answer?  How valuable do you believe teacher self-study to be?  How much experience have you had?  How is teacher self-study supported in your school?  Have you utilised Critical Friends in your school?  What were your experiences?

The title of the following is a really interesting one which appealed to my sense of humour straight away - is it too cynical?  It is worth a read!

Smyth, J. (2001). Critical reflection: The antidote of being done to!. (Chapter 14, pp.183-196). In Critical politics of teachers’ work: An Australian perspective. New York: Peter Laing.

So how do we make sure this works for all concerned?

Professor Jack Whitehead talks about how to give the teachers a voice within Action Research.