Teacher Research: Improving Practice and Developing Teacher Voice Among Diverse Students in Early Childhood Education Barbara Henderson San Francisco State University Background These materials describe Teacher Research (TR), and how we use it in the graduate program at San Francisco State University. This slide show provides a resource for teacher educators to see how TR programs can be developed, and to introduce the concept and skills of Teacher Research to graduate students, upper level undergraduates, or practicing teachers beginning a collaborative TR group. Organization of these Materials 1. Defining Teacher Research. 2. Describing the graduate program at San Francisco State University. 3. Steps new teacher researchers can take to begin a study based on their practice. 4. Starred words throughout the document appear in a Glossary. Defining Teacher Research Teacher research is undertaken by “insiders” in the schools. TR studies address one’s own practice TR is systematically planned and involves data collection, analysis, and public presentation of findings. TR includes an action component, that is, the practitioner observes a problem, takes action on it, and observes the results. TR studies have implications for others. Findings may speak to local, regional, national, or global policy on education, children, and families. Teacher Research Components Looks at children's learning and development using data that captures children’s voices Looks at our own learning and development in personal & professional ways Highlights teachers’ & administrators’ voices and demonstrates their role as knowledge creators Requires self-study of our practice Is inquiry-based & reflective Emphasizes qualitative research approaches Student Demographics of ECE Graduate Students at SFSU: Linguistic Diversity 25% are international students or adult immigrants who speak languages other than English as their first language. 20% immigrated to the U.S. as young children or are first generation immigrant and bilingual (e.g., EnglishSpanish, English-Cantonese). 55% come from families who have been in the U.S. for two or more generations. Most of these students are monolingual English-speakers. Student Demographics of ECE Graduate Students at SFSU: Racial & Ethnic Diversity 25% European American heritage 25% Asian American heritage (including Pacific Islands) 10% African American heritage 5% Latina American heritage 10% Latinas from Central and South America 15% Asian, from Asia, India, and the Pacific Islands 5% from countries in Europe 5% from countries in Africa Student Demographics of ECE Graduate Students at SFSU: Professional Diversity 65% our students are teachers including: 25% administer early childhood and afterschool programs including: preschool teachers (45% of total), infant-toddler caregivers (10% of total) elementary teachers (10% of total). district-run sites, private non-profits, state-sponsored preschools, home-based day cares, and Head Start centers. 15% are in allied fields, including ECE evaluators, teacher trainers, and social service professionals. Teacher Research is the Centerpiece of Graduate Work in ECE at SFSU Courses focus on teaching the skills of Teacher Research along with course content. Three foundational courses are: Students integrate TR skills through a 4th course: Cognitive Development for ECE Social, Emotional and Physical Development for ECE Narrative Inquiry and Memoir for ECE Practitioner Research in ECE Courses have a sociocultural perspective and value the home language and culture students bring to the experience of doing TR. Courses lead to a culminating field study in TR. Teacher Research Skills are Built throughout Courses and Assignments Courses and the major papers for each course are laid out in the following flowchart. In this flowchart, 4 of the major courses are shown as boxes, with course projects shown as attached tags. The flowchart shows how courses lead to the culminating field study, which is depicted as a diamond. Flowchart Showing How Elements of Teacher Research are Taught in 4 Major Courses TR Skills Taught in the Graduate Course on Cognitive Development Assignment: A TR study focused on one’s own teaching and the learning & development of a focal student or group of students QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture. Design: Pre-test Post-Test Chronological Outcome seeking Methodology: Discourse analysis* of transcripts Analysis of child’s skill, or conceptual development TR Skills Taught in the Graduate Course on Social, Emotional, & Physical Development Assignment: Literature Reviews that also integrate teachers’ observations of children Skills Developed: Critically interpret literature in the field Compare across literature from a range of related fields Integrate literature into the argument of a paper Integrate literature with your own experience Improve clarity of writing TR Skills Taught in the Graduate Course on Narrative Inquiry & Memoir in ECE Assignment: Collection of personal narratives, professional narrative, and other expressive writing around a theme QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture. Elements of Collection: Vignettes that capture moments of life Narratives about students and teaching Poetry based on life experience Other visual arts to express life experience TR Skills Taught in the Graduate Course on Practitioner Inquiry in ECE Assignment: Skills Developed Teacher research paper on topic of choice (serves as a pilot for many students’ culminating Field Studies) Identify a question that holds your passion Make that question researchable Collect relevant data Organize and analyze data Collaborate with other TRs to give and receive critique Develop the writing habits of an author See implications of your findings that impact policy Write to communicate with practitioners and policy makers Criteria for Quality Applied to Culminating Teacher Research Field Studies & Theses Completed at SFSU Is the question posed researchable by objective & expressive means? Is the question is significant within the field of ECE (e.g., current & relevant, original, of the right scope)? Has the author made links to the relevant literature? Was the study designed to effectively address the research question? Does the paper use an effective writing style? Do the findings use a range of qualitative and narrative inquiry* methodologies to present evidence for claims? Are there implications from the findings for others outside of the teacher him or herself? Undertaking Teacher Research Begin with a real question, a problem, or puzzle you have about your work Research-based and practical/teachingbased Action oriented -- one possible frame for inquiry, “How can I…?” Is done in conscious & systematic manner throughout Outline of the Steps within Teacher Research Projects 1. Wondering about an issue, challenge, or new situation -- a genuine prompt for inquiry that originates with the practitioner 2. Is the question I’ve asked researchable through objective means? 3. Using question frames to clarify the research: a. “How can I…?” b. “What is happening when…and what accounts for this?” 4. Study design: knowing how you will address your research question through data 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. collection and organization of the final product Data collection: what to collect Data analysis: tools to interpret data Writing: data collection, data analysis, findings Critical feedback on in-progress findings and early drafts Implications of local findings a. Making links to other literature b. Realizing the impact of findings for other teachers and policy makers 10. Public sharing of products Ask a Genuine Question, Ask a Researchable Question Starting Question: “Should war and weapon play ever be allowed in ECE settings?” QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture. Researchable Questions: 1. “What changes did I observe in children’s play when we shifted our policy so that certain kinds of war and weapon play were permitted?” OR… 2. “What effect did a change in policy have on my practice as an educator, in particular how I viewed girls’ and boys’ play styles?” Framing a Question by Using an Action Research Frame, “How Can I…?” How can I improve… my teaching of emergent literacy with infants and toddlers? my practices for engaging children with clay? materials to develop children’s concepts of number? children’s observation of natural phenomenon to develop science concepts? my use of authentic experiences such as field trips? QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture. Framing a Question by Using Daily Events as a Springboard for Inquiry Ask, “What is happening when…and what accounts for this?” For example: What happens when children are called to circle and what accounts for their behavior during this transition? What is happening when children are in conflict and what accounts for my reaction to step in and solve the situation? What happens when children use materials in novel ways and what accounts for their occasional ability to collaborate for extended periods? What is happening when children engage together in “goofy” play, and what accounts for the energy this brings to their interactions? Flexibility Defining a question for a teacher research study demands flexibility on the part of the teacher researcher. Teacher researchers’ questions will narrow as the research unfolds, but they may also shift. Both changes are positive. For example, what starts out as a case study of a child, may become a self-study of oneself as a teacher. QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture. Study Design In qualitative research, the design, like the research question is also somewhat emergent*. Nonetheless, you must have some idea of how you will design the study so that you can get started. QuickTime™ and a TIFF ( Uncompressed) decompr essor are needed to see this pictur e. Examples for Study Design & Organization for Teacher Research Chronological: documents changes that occur from the start to the end of a project Case Study: choose a child who poses an issue and describe one’s teaching from the perspective of how it affects him or her Comparative Case Study: choose two children to illustrate how curriculum, materials, or the classroom environment are experienced differently by children Self-study: a case study of oneself as a teacher Thematic: uncover the pattern of overarching themes that run through data, and then present excerpts of data to document these aspects of teaching,learning, and development Data in Teacher Research is Collected from a Variety of Sources Reflective teacher journals* Observational fieldnotes* Student work samples (art, writing, numbers) Photographs of children, children’s work, the setting, and materials Audiotape of class interactions, then selectively transcribed Videotape of class interactions selectively transcribed used as still photos Interviews with colleagues or families Surveys collected from parents, colleagues, or children Chart paper you used during lessons School documents (e.g., newsletters, faculty manual) Tallies of events or interactions (make a data collection sheet) Data Analysis Discourse analysis* of speech samples Analysis of photographs Analysis of children’s work Quantitative summary and analysis of something you counted (e.g., event, response, words, time elapsed) Patterns found in interviews Grounded theory* analysis of fieldnotes and teacher journal Narrative Inquiry*: narratives to pose questions and provide perspectives on the situation Memoir: use of your life story to illuminate current teaching practices Habits of Writing Writing is part of data collection: fieldnotes, teacher journals, interviews. Qualitative data analysis requires writing. Data memos written to a collaborative group of teacher researchers help to verify findings as research is in-progress. Sharing the results of TR is part of the cycle of inquiry, so teacher researchers must be prepared and supported to write final products on their findings. TR findings have implications for policy; therefore, documents should be distributed beyond education (e.g., op-ed piece, policy input for legislation). Embarking as a Writer: Diverse Populations of Teacher Researchers Writing within the inquiry cycle goes to different audiences and serves different purposes. Not all writing should be corrected, or even seen by others. TRs need to ask their own questions about the response they need to their writing. Different audiences give different responses. Good writing is well edited. All writing presented publicly will have gone through editing and revision. By reading and responding to other teacher researchers’ work, TRs learn more about the structure, content, and form of written English. TR is about finding ones’ voice and seeing its impact. Giving & Receiving Feedback from Critical Colleagues* Teacher research is collaborative in nature. Critical colleagues at one’s school site offer an important insider perspective. Critical colleagues from other sites provide distance that can strengthen the trustworthiness of an account. Data based one’s own perceptions, practices, and judgments need external response for verification. TRs see their own projects more clearly when they work with others. Collaboration provides emotional and practical support. Implications Teacher research’s central goal is to increase access and equity within schools. TR can improve conditions at school sites for children, families, and teaching staff. Classroom-based, insider, qualitative inquiry like TR has implications that stretch beyond a classroom’s walls. Next Steps: Roles for Teacher Educators Teacher researchers need support to see links to policy Teacher researchers need to share resources to find similar educational research that can be compared with their findings. Teacher researchers need confidence to see that their findings can make a difference to other teachers and for policy makers. Teacher researchers need support and facilitation to reach public outlets, so their findings can take this next step. Glossary critical colleagues: a term from action research that describes peers who participate in research to provide one another with feedback on the accuracy, trustworthiness, and depth of analysis, findings, and implications of the inquiry discourse analysis: an approach to interpreting conversations where transcribed speech is treated as text and taken apart to find patterns, for example by focusing on turn-taking, initiation of content or linguistic style, or types of responses given by each conversant emergent: developing in-progress through a feedback loop with other people who are impacted by the process. Curriculum may be emergent when it is initiated by children and facilitated by teachers. Qualitative research is emergent when the exact question addressed or the types of data collected and analyzed develop once the inquiry has already begun. fieldnotes: a term from ethnography that describes writing done in a classroom or community to captures details of what is said and done by the participants. The researcher attempts to distinguish between observed data and one’s own judgments on a situation. grounded theory: an idea developed by Glaser & Straus in 1967 where knowledge about a set of data arises from an ongoing conceptual analysis of the observed phenomena. The researcher develops knowledge by creating an explanation that can predict and account for the recorded phenomena, that is, a creates a “theory.” This theory is then checked back to the original situation to check its truth. Data collection and analysis approaches are modified based on the new perspective provided by this theory of events. At the same time, the theory is fine-tuned through a cycle of interpretation and rechecking with events and informants within the setting. The theory is, therefore, founded or “grounded” on the details of those events. narrative inquiry: an artistically influenced research approach that uses stories, vignettes, and narrative poems to capture and question events. Representing multiple perspectives on a situation in a believable manner is crucial. Different audiences will interpret findings variously based on their own readings and experiences, which is valued within this methodology. teacher journal: a personal document that includes reflection, critique, celebration, and ranting on teaching practices, reactions to instruction, students, administration, families, and the research process. These notes can serve as data or may provide support and direction to the teacher researcher for data collection in more public documents.