I would like to raise the question “To what extent are the children’s learning difficulties teacher - generated?” I have through my enquiry gone through a process of analysing and reflecting on myself as a generator and facilitator of information and assessor of pupils’ learning skills through feedback from the pupils own reflections on their learning process ( study diaries and personal and whole class questioning)
During the process I have realised that deep down inside what I want most is for the pupils to take responsibility for their own learning and that I would like to aim towards that of the role of facilitator as defined by Margaret Tumber:
“The task of the teacher as facilitator ranges from that of the practical provider of a classroom environment and atmosphere conducive to learning to that of a guide and moderator capable of setting up and monitoring widely differentiated programmes within a coherent framework”. I have drawn the conclusion that a sense of fulfilment, satisfaction and enjoyment in teaching and learning must come from the teacher taking responsibility in providing,stimulating and encouraging learning and the learner taking responsibility for their own progress and gaining an understanding in the process of their learning. It is through the teacher’s role as facilitator, as perceived above, that she can gradually move towards the process of pupils taking responsibility for their own learning.
Despite the difficulties I still faced with Lorraine, during my enquiry, I gradually became more convinced of the benefits of mixed ability teaching and the values it upholds: that all pupils be respected as equal. I saw benefits in terms of the pupils’ educational social and personal development. For differentiation to succeed every child must feel valued.
As my diary entry (18.05.92) states:
“I seem to be becoming more and more convinced of the benefits of mixed ability teaching despite the difficulties I am facing with Lorraine. The benefits that weaker pupils have are enormous, they can use their peers for assistance and motivation. Pupil motivation has improved and the extra homework and extension activities have served as a stimulus and additional educational element. I feel that I am striving towards pupils taking responsibility for their own learning.” In writing this report and making my action research subject to collaborative critical evaluation I feel that I have gone through a further reflective and analytical process. I would like at this stage to stress the significance of recording reflections and analysing during the process of action research, something which I think I could have done more of. Indeed, it is only through the writing of this report that it became clear to me that I had now completed my cycle and had in fact found another question, that of improving the learning environment for Lorraine.
If the reader is considering a form of action research themselves I would strongly recommend it for all the reasons mentioned above. As Jack Whitehead says in his foreword to Jean McNiff’s book “Action Research Principles and Practice”, Macmillan, 1988:
“it is a timely invitation to help strengthen our profession through critical engagement from within..we learn from our mistakes in detailed criticisms of our positions”. In conclusion I would like to quote Moira Laidlaw “Action Research: A Guide For Use On Initial Teacher Education Programmes”:
“Action Research empowers the classroom teacher to construct her own knowledge and to make it available to others for their benefit and the benefit of their pupils””