Intentionally Inquisitive: New Teachers and Teacher Research

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.

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2 thoughts on “Intentionally Inquisitive: New Teachers and Teacher Research

  1. When I first began doing teacher research in my classroom as a high school teacher, I thought the question needed to be BIG and IMPORTANT and COMPLEX and EARTH-SHAKING. As I think I discussed with you in regard to my own question about what constitutes “busy work,” however, sometimes a seemingly mundane question like this can lead to more profound questions regarding what constitutes meaningful work that leads to learning (or doesn’t): Why do students and teachers have different views of what counts as “busy work”? What can teachers do to make sure that students understand the purpose of the work that teachers assign? How can teachers draw on students’ learning preferences to create more meaningful opportunities for learning? And so on and so on and so on.

    Regardless of the gravity of the question, however, what continues to make a difference for me as a teacher researcher is the very act of approaching my teaching with a question. Doing so keeps me engaged because there’s always another piece of the puzzle to solve, and it makes me want to keep growing as a teacher.

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