The uses of writing in action research

Q. I’m a busy teacher. How am I supposed to fit all this in, let alone everything else I am trying to do? A

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Q. I’m a busy teacher. How am I supposed to fit all this in, let alone everything else I am trying to do?

A. I’m not going to say it doesn’t take time, but look at the seven steps above. How many of those are you doing already? A fair few, I bet. What Action Research tries to do is to approach the matter of professional improvement with your practice in the classroom in a systematic way, so that you can say: I’ve succeeded in that. I’ve done it, and I can prove it! And you have improved your practice for the benefit of the learners in your classrooms.
Q. That’s all very well, but the mechanics of it worry me. I’ve got 28 pupils in my 10th year G.C.S.E. English group, for example. Imagine I want to work on something in relation to that class. Are you saying that I have to teach that class, isolate one concern, collect data on it, talk to a critical friend (see later) do all my lesson plans, attend all my meetings, do all the paperwork, organise all my fourth and fifth year examination work, do all the marking, see parents, go on courses, teach all my other classes, and still find the time and energy to undertake an action enquiry?

A. I can only answer that people have reported feeling empowered by undertaking Action Research. I’ve felt that myself. It gives us new insights into what we are doing, informs all of our practice, not just a part of it, and enables us to improve the quality of learning for our pupils. Yes, it does take systematic organisation over time, but the benefits of it are enormous. Consider Greendown Community School in Swindon. They have adopted a whole school policy on Action Research, that all their meetings, policy-decisions, staff development will be run on such a basis. And for over two years now they have had an active research group of nine people who meet fortnightly to discuss progress in an individual’s enquiry. The Headteacher is a member of the group but he does not run it. It is chaired by another member. These staff must feel it is particularly worthwhile if they are doing all this. Having talked to some of them, they appear to feel that the process is immensely valuable. So the answer to your question in a nutshell is, yes it takes time, but all professional development takes time, but it appears to be worth it for both you and your pupils, and by extension, the profession as a whole.

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