with their everyday teaching, rather than immediately trying to ‘solve’ problems by taking and attempting to evaluate a new action. Only later were they guided optionally to consider trying to ‘solve’ problems by implementing and evaluating new plans. Thus, borrowing from EP, the exploratory first part of Exploratory Action Research was to involve clarifying the existing situation – the nature of ‘the problem’ – before any action for change would be undertaken. An example given to teachers was that, if lack of motivation seems to be an issue, students can write about their current motivation (in Spanish or English) and the teacher can analyse their writing by identifying common concerns. This can not only help teachers decide on changes that are appropriate to their students, it can also provide them with ‘baseline data’ – a way to compare the situations ‘before’ and ‘after’ any change they do try to introduce at a later stage. Finally, an innovative approach was also adopted towards the development as well as the content of the programme; rather than all steps being determined in advance, a relatively self-reflective, process-oriented stance was adopted with regard to planning and development. Thus, an exploratory/action research orientation informed the ongoing design of the programme as well as the projects engaged in by teachers.
Implementing the innovation Preparation and initial seminar Groundwork for the project involved requesting Ministry of Education approval, putting out a call for participation (103 teachers applied and 80 were selected, on the basis of personal statements), making arrangements for a two-day workshop in January 2013, setting up a Moodle platform for the project and selecting four mentors. A workshop facilitator was invited from the UK (Richard Smith), who was asked to indicate to teachers how they could take the first steps in designing and carrying out an action research study (it was at this point that the notion of ‘exploratory action research’ was formulated). At the two-day workshop, the participating school teachers identified and discussed both successes and problems they had been having in their teaching, and formed small groups according to the topic they had identified as being the most important and relevant to them in their context. The following were some of those identified: ■■
Poor student motivation to learn English
Difficulty in getting students to speak English in class
Classroom management issues as a result of having large classes (40+ students)
Having to deal with different levels of ability within the same class
Problems with discipline
Lack of parental involvement in pupils’ learning.
In the present chapter, rather than reporting on the particular research projects which arose from these and other issues, our focus will be more on describing and reflecting on the overall process of involving and supporting participants in CPD-oriented teacher research. However, it is worth noting that the themes selected reflect the particularly difficult circumstances faced by most Chilean
Teacher-research as continuing professional development |
Published on Aug 29, 2014
Published on Aug 29, 2014
The publication, edited by David Hayes offers global perspectives on the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of English language teach...