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Providing a clearer structure from the outset, with deadlines for reporting

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Ensuring that the letter from the Ministry giving official support for the project is issued earlier – the importance of this letter for teachers in enabling them to gain institutional support was underestimated

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Attempting to ensure in advance that mentors can make the commitment necessary, and providing initial mentor training

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Providing input with regard to data analysis (at a meeting or via online materials at a point when data has been gathered)

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Ensuring that face-to-face or other synchronous meeting opportunities are provided for mentors and teachers; for example, via a series of pre-programmed local meetings and/or telephone or Skype meetings. When such meetings did occur, they proved to be very valuable, whereas communication via email and Moodle had been relatively problematic.

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Integrating this first year’s participants as mentors or critical friends, thus developing local expertise and support, and regional networks.

Conclusion Finally, we revisit the question of the potential of teacher-research within CPD in difficult circumstances in the light of our project experience. There were certainly difficulties in implementing this teacher-research initiative, partly due to contextual constraints and partly due to what, in retrospect, could be seen as inadequacies in planning (although the flexible, experimental approach we adopted meant that solutions to several of these problems were developed in the course of the year). There were early drop-outs, for many possible reasons; however, ‘exploratory’ action research seems to have been a desirable, feasible and empowering option for nearly half of the initial cohort, despite the difficulties encountered. We count this as a major success given previous reports highlighting the problems of engaging practising teachers in voluntary teacher-research. As we have seen, a dominant theme in final reflections was that participants had learned to listen to their students more, and that doing exploratory research had thereby fulfilled a valuable pedagogical function which plunging immediately into the ‘action’ part of action research might not have fulfilled to the same extent. Overall, then, we feel we succeeded in developing innovative ways of making teacher-research appear feasible as well as desirable in teachers’ eyes, in apparently very unpromising conditions. The successes achieved despite the difficulties encountered are equally, we should emphasise, a testament to the determination of the participating teachers, and to the dedication of their mentors. Our experience suggests that the success or otherwise of initiatives to engage teachers in teacher-research may depend largely on what kind of teacher-research is introduced to teachers, how it is presented to them, how it is supported and what style of sharing of the research is expected. All of these aspects can be made either relatively ‘academic’ (as, we find, in the models of action research often advocated to teachers) or relatively accessible and attractive to teachers (as we have deliberately attempted to make them in our own innovation, with some increasingly positive

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|  Teacher-research as continuing professional development

Innovations in the CPD of English language teachers  
Innovations in the CPD of English language teachers  

The publication, edited by David Hayes offers global perspectives on the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of English language teach...