Classroom research is the process an educator uses to improve his or her teaching to promote higher learning and greater engagement of students. I originally struggled with the term “classroom research” because it seems daunting. Maybe it is because I am a first year teacher and many days I feel like I am sinking more than swimming. I have read a few articles and I have adopted the definition that “a teacher uses research in her classroom to study writing, literature, her students – and herself” (Abbott, 1994). I personally identify with Abbott’s view of asking “What would happen if…” because as I find my way through teaching kindergarten, a grade where I had very little prior experience, I find that I am experimenting with ideas and procedures daily. I have often thought that I should be keeping a journal and documenting my journey, but it is not something that I have pursued.
I believe that classroom research will improve my teaching because I will have data about what is working and areas where I need to make changes. Through research, I hope to have a clearer direction of what is and is not working instead of spending time troubleshooting when something (classroom management, technology, time management, etc.) is not working in my classroom. I can ask myself and document my “what if” ideas and learn which ideas are effective with my students. Then I will use the information as a way to tweak my teaching practices to enhance student learning and engagement. That will allow me to narrow my research down to one focus area where change is needed the most and research how my ideas are working.
I also believe that I do not have to conduct all my classroom research on my own. I have a student who is on the autism spectrum and I am not at all confident that I fully understand all of his needs. I have had very little experience with students on the spectrum. However, I know that there has been a lot of research done on teaching children who are on the autism spectrum. I specifically thought about my student as I was reading about how research allows me to pull from other educators’ experiences (Duke, Martin, & Akers, 2013). I can find strategies to improve the learning experiences of my student by working with other educators in my building and district who have experience with students on the spectrum. Further, I can read the research that other educators have compiled and published to assist me with him.
I think my biggest hurdle is asking for help. I do not want to appear to be struggling, even when I am struggling. At times, I feel that as a teacher, I should have the answers. However, I remember telling the sixth grade students that I student-taught last year that it is not all about having the answers, but it is more about knowing where to go to get the answers. It might be helpful for me to keep this in mind.
Abbott, S. (1994). What Would Happen If…? A Teacher’s Journey with Teacher Research. The English Journal , 59-61. Retrieved from: http://drannejonesuas.learningspaces.alaska.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/15/2013/10/a-teachers-journey-with-research.pdf
Duke, N., Martin, N., & Akers, A. (2013). 10 Things Every Literacy Educator and School Librarian Should Know about Research. Teacher Librarian , 8-22. Retrieved from: http://drannejonesuas.learningspaces.alaska.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/15/2013/10/10-things-every-educator-should-know-about-research.pdf