I'm taking a graduate course this semester on action research, part of which is defining and designing a question to tackle. Most of the coursework relates to classroom-level research by teachers to drive reflection and instructional change, but I'm not in the classroom right now. I'm thinking through what kind of teacher-focused research could help me in a coaching role.
- Can reflection be an emergent property in teaching given the right context to grow?
- How can formative data push teachers toward ideas in contrast with what they think is the "best" instructional habit?
- How do PLNs (local or digital) change teacher practice?
- What conditions are favorable for teachers starting - and completing - PD regimens?
- Are mixed-format (online, self-paced, in person) PD sequences more or less effective than single-format (single sessions)?
- What kind of follow up intervention or touchpoints can spur implementation of methods or ideas learned in professional development?
- How do student results from trying new methods impact the type and frequency of PD offered to teachers?
- How does implementing a new lesson or instructional method impact teacher satisfaction or overall morale?
This definitely isn't exhaustive, but it's a start. There are some others floating around my head that I can't quite verbalize yet. Much of what I'm interested in surrounds teacher intent to join PD, their actual attendance, and then, most importantly, their implementation of the methods and techniques learned together. What kinds of prompts or supports are needed to ensure follow through?
At face value, it seems collaborative action - longitudinal groups of teachers - working together has a high impact on implementation. But, given time constraints (including perceived time restrictions) on the part of teachers, this is hard to get off the ground at a systemic level during the school day.
The district as a whole is ripe for this kind of problem solving. Department and cross-department PLCs are forming and they are given freedom to choose how to spend that time. Perhaps a good way to start is to identify a team at each building willing to go through a more formal process. While their focus is on student improvement, I'm more interested in the supplemental activities I can provide as a coach to develop the action research mindset of the teacher.
Featured image from Unsplash by David Papillon