The uses of writing in action research

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Jayne Prior’s account
I first heard about Action Research from Moira Laidlaw via Jonathan Jones. She had suggested that he do an Action Research during TP1. He asked me, as his TP partner, to act as his Critical Friend. I read some introductory information about Action Research that Moira had given him, and his "Action Research Planner". I found the idea of systematising personal 'improvement' very appealing and, having familiarised myself with the role of Critical Friend, happily agreed to attempt to fulfil this role. I think it is worth mentioning here that Jonathan and I discussed the idea at some length before I decided to act as his Critical Friend as we were both aware that it would involve a degree of commitment and time, but perhaps more importantly, a degree of mutual respect. Prior to TP1 Jonathan and I didn't know each other very well but felt, after the initial discussion about Action Research, that we would be able to work together on this. The next stage was a discussion with Moira about my role as Critical Friend, and a discussion with Jonathan about his aims and objectives. The more I found out about Action Research, the more enthusiastic I became, and the more "at home" I felt with it.
During TP1 I attempted to fulfil my role as Critical Friend as best I could, and in the process learnt more about it myself. I soon began to consider doing an Action Research myself, with Jonathan as my Critical Friend. Initially, however, I had problems identifying a specific area that I wanted to work on. As a student teacher I felt that EVERYTHING needed working on! After identifying a few vague areas which I felt were weak, I decided to shelve the idea until I was more sure, and continued to concentrate on my role as Critical Friend, something from which I was also able to learn (as regards the development of a constructive approach towards self-criticism). During my fourth week in school, it suddenly became absolutely clear what my Action Research project should centre around. I think I had needed several weeks to discover my own strengths and weaknesses. As there were only two more weeks of TP1 to go, I decided to embark on a "mini" Action Research. With hindsight I feel that during a first teaching practice it is perhaps a good idea to limit an Action Research in any case, as there are so many other things to think about.

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