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Why should teachers conduct research?

A good question, thoroughly answered by TLN'er Gail Ritchie ina new Q&A at the TeachersCount website. Ritchie, soon to be a school-based instructional coach in the Fairfax County (VA) schools, is a passionate advocate for teacher or "action" research. Indeed, she earned her doctorate this past spring with her  dissertation titled Teacher Research as a Habit of Mind.

"Teachers who conduct research are engaging in ongoing, job-embedded professional learning," Ritchie points out. "Investigating their own questions, rather than waiting for someone to tell them what to do, empowers teachers to generate their own knowledge about “what works” in teaching and learning."

Here's a little more of what Ritchie has to say at TC's TeachersTalk feature page:

Teachers sometimes become involved in teacher research through coursework that emphasizes the natural connection between inquiry and practice. But, in my dissertation study, I found that the main way teachers become involved in teacher research is through a personal invitation from someone they respect. Teachers who are already conducting research invite other teachers to benefit from collaborative reflection and inquiry. When those initial inquiries are supported effectively, teachers tend to stick with teacher research until, over time, it becomes a part of who they are as teachers, or what Marian Mohr called, “a way of being” a teacher.

Many teacher researchers are part of networks of other teacher researchers. These networks are often supported by websites or electronic learning platforms....

Gail goes on to list several websites and online journals where teachers can begin to get involved with teacher-research communities.

To read several other TLN contributions to the TeachersTalk page, visit the archives. Covered topics include student motivation, professional learning communities,  performance pay, culturally engaged instruction, and teacher leadership.

(Click here to find out more about the publication used to illustrate this post. The many teacher research essays included are all available online at no cost.)

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