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What is meaningful professional development?
Over the past year or so I have been involved in the development of a workshop about teacher research. Is this work, together with a personal interest for action – research and my thoughts regarding professional development, that have helped me understand that teachers should control their own learning process. That meaningful professional development is the one that is based on teachers own interests and tensions and should effect change in the same way that inquiry in the PYP leads to student reflective action. With that in mind, teacher research becomes a powerful professional development tool which leads to significant improvement in student learning. At the same time by researching into their own practices teachers will be able to gain a better understanding of inquiry as a pedagogy which is central to IB philosophy.
But what are the connections between teacher research and inquiry, How are they similar? How are they different? So far I have identified a few along the way…
- They are both are processes and can be described through cycles. They both involve, questioning, exploring, representing, etc.
- Action research and inquiry require participants to make connections to what is already known, they both involve exploring previous knowledge.
- Action research and inquiry involve solving problems, exploring tensions
- For both, reflection is an important aspect and through reflection we can increase knowledge and understanding.
- Teacher research and inquiry can be seen as a habit of mind, actually Richard Sagor describes it this way and Kathy Short talks about inquiry as a stance.
- Inquiry is perhaps a more natural process than teacher research; In teacher research we find the need for researchers to design specific tools and methods for data collection or detailed planning, research is meticulously planned and follows a tight timeline.
- Teacher research in a school provides opportunities for one to re-engage as a learner and experience problem posing and reflection in a meaningful way.
- Teacher Research helps us examine current classroom procedures and teaching methodologies.
- Teacher research also gives us the opportunity to relate to our students in a more personal level, we can show them that even teachers inquire, that we are not the holders of all knowledge
Can you think of some more connections? Differences? What are the benefits of teacher research in a school? What are your thoughts on this?