After reading Teachers as Researchers by Marian Mohr, I feel like I better understand the purpose and impact of teacher research, and am more convinced than ever of incorporating teacher research into my classroom.
My biggest take away from the article was understanding that teachers are the best education researchers because they are the ones consistently testing out the theories. They know better than anyone what works and what doesn’t work in the classroom because they are there everyday. That being said, teacher research requires sustained and focused attention on a specific theory or question, and definitely requires a significant amount of work on the teacher’s part.
Why should a new teacher become a teacher researcher? It is definitely possible, and even for the best, because new teachers often aren’t yet subscribed to any particular way of thinking about policies in the classroom because they haven’t seen them in action yet. There is value in the new ideas and willingness to learn that new teachers bring with them to the classroom, and these can be assets in teacher research.
How can new teachers become teacher researchers? That’s obviously a question I’m still figuring out the answer to myself, but I think the first thing to do is just start. What do you notice about the classrooms you’ve been in or your own classroom? What do your students struggle with? What do your colleagues struggle with? Question tradition and “standard practice;” think: what is the purpose of x? Is x achieving its intended purpose? Is it useful, constructive? Does it extend student thinking?
In short, teacher research is incredibly important, and new teachers can and should tackle the task by being inquisitive and focused. Ask questions with a purpose, and the rest will follow suit.