Guiding School Improvement with Action Research

By Richard Sagor | Go to book overview
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4 Teaching: H Complex Process
Chapter 3 identified two key reasons to make action research a part of our school improvement work:
The need to make teaching a more [professional] pursuit
The motivational power of data for building teacher efficacy
This chapter examines two current trends that make investing in teacher research imperative:
The increased diversity of our student bodies
The high-stakes consequences of the standards movement

For people who don't enjoy a challenge, choosing to become a teacher is the worst possible career decision. Nothing in the schoolhouse works easily or smoothly. In fact, few if any schools can claim to perform as consistently as NASA's space shuttle. This isn't because the space shuttle is a simple machine—which it isn't—but because success in education, like all other human endeavors, is influenced by an infinite array of variables.

Although building a space shuttle is not a simple matter, the variables that an engineer needs to consider are determinable, manageable, and (generally) stable. Contrast the work of the engineer with that of the classroom teacher. Are the issues she faces manageable, determinable, and stable? To answer that question, let's look at a routine task encountered daily by a primary school classroom teacher: lesson planning for a diverse classroom.

A layperson might ask, [Just how hard could it be to design a math lesson for 7-year-olds?] Even when an instructional task seems straightforward, a teacher must consider many things. Imagine that the lesson being planned is a simple one—the addition of two-digit numbers with regrouping. What data does a typical 2nd grade teacher need to consider to properly design this lesson? Certainly if this lesson is to work for a

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