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Finding a starting point for teachers-as-researchers

This first post is dedicated to a number of people:

Kurt Lewin who first coined the phrase "action research" and who envisioned social change as a collaboration with all those involved rather than as a systemic ‘top-down’ hotchpotch solution.

John Collier who tried to find a solution to the ‘relocation’ of the native American Indians that was co-constructed by all rather than simply enacted by Government officials.

Lawrence Stenhouse who first considered that educational concerns were best considered and affected by those in the classrooms. It was Stenhouse who first advocated the role of ‘teacher-as-researcher’ in the UK and who set out to show the sceptics that it was laudable and valuable position for teachers to take.

The pupils who have I taught over a career spanning fifteen years. They helped me to become a practitioner-researcher and challenge the way in which I taught physical education and eventually how I teacher teachers to teach physical education.

I have been toying with the idea of a blog for a number of months now and having dipped a toe in twitter I have decided to give this a go. The purpose of the blog is to act a guide to classroom-based research - especially but not exclusively - in physical education.

So what is the first step: Find a problem. I would suggest that researching what you are good at becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy in which you prove that you were good at it from the start. Indeed evaluate your teaching and find something you are struggling with or which isn’t as good as you want it to be. Personally I decided that I was the very centre of my classrooms and all direction came from me and the only voice that was valid was my own. This led me to find new ways of teaching (i.e. Sport Education, Cooperative Learning and Teaching Games for Understanding) and then to examine my use of them. Before I could do this however I had to learn about them and try to conceptualise how they worked and how they might work in my classrooms. This took time reading books (both academic and practitioner texts) and articles (both academic and practitioner) and a period of trial and error. Indeed my first unit of Sport Education lasted just 5 weeks before I had the plug pulled by a colleague while my last unit (in the academic year 2008/2009) spanned the whole year. So give it a go...can you think of something you do in your teaching that isn’t as good as you want it to be? Maybe you teach a fantastic swimming unit but your gymnastics is a little in the last half of the last century. Personally, I am now considering the way that I teach at University and trying to take my school practices in the gym into the lecture theatre...not a simple process.

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