Academic journal article Education

Collaborative Research: On the Bleeding Edge

Academic journal article Education

Collaborative Research: On the Bleeding Edge

Article excerpt

Introduction

During the 1993-1994 academic school year, I arranged to conduct a research project on the teaching practicum with two elementary school teachers. Kathy had been a student in several of my classes while doing her Bachelor of Education. I taught Susan in a Primary Specialist Additional Qualifications summer course. I wrote references letters for both women when they applied for graduate school. Both teachers had acted as associate teachers for my students teachers. I had read assignments and journals they had written, and had watched them deal with children, their peers, and my students.

During the fall 1993, I was reading articles on the teaching practicum and writing the proposal for my annual research project. At the same time I was visiting teachers in schools to organize practice reaching placements for my student teachers. It was during one of these visits that I proposed collaborative research on the teaching practicum from the associate teacher's perspective with these two elementary school teachers. Both Susan and Kathy were teaching in the same school. In addition there were three other associate teachers in their school whom I had worked with on a regular basis. Susan and Kathy were both working on their Masters Degree and struggling to juggle their teaching, family, and academic responsibilities. The following quotation from Susan's narrative describes my original fall meeting with her:

I remember sitting on the green couch in the staff room with Jane, a professor from the University of Ottawa. She wants to discuss placing another student teacher in my classroom. She is friendly and bright - a happy new mother ready to share her experiences. And me? Overburdened and tired - I feel like I am a bad mother, a bad teacher, and a bad wife. I don't know if I have anything to offer a student teacher coming into my classroom.

Jane is concerned and puts aside her own stories to listen to mine. I feel the tightness in my chest and tears behind my eyes. I have not even admitted this struggle to juggle all of my simultaneous demands to myself! I am bone weary. My celebration of teaching and parenting are lost. I try to tell Jane of the strenuous demands that my Master's course has placed on me. Jane listens sympathetically and then asked if I would like to take a course where I could have a say in the workload? Not only set the research agenda and help to conduct it, but take an active part in each stage. Have my voice as a classroom teacher heard? (Stewart, et. al., 1994)

The experience was to be mutually beneficial. Kathy and Susan would enjoy the convenience, and flexibility offered by conducting research in their classrooms. They would obtain a university credit towards their Masters Degree during the process. They would participate in the annual Learneds Conference and co-authors research papers. I would have a richer viewpoint of the associate teacher's perspective of the teaching practicum and freer access to the other associate teachers teaching in their school. These were the expectations which were discussed at that time.

I would like to share with you mistakes that were made during this process, what was learned, and make suggestions on how this process could be improved. By sharing this information I have tried to show the pros and cons experienced when one university professor attempted to conduct collaborate research with two elementary school teachers. The paper is written from my perspective as a university professor. I have taken excepts from Susan's narrative account of the experience written during the research process. Both teachers wrote about the process in a reflective paper one year after the completion of the project. I have also included quotes from these papers in an efron to reflect their feelings about this process. Finally, I presented both teachers with a draft of this paper and received their feedback and comments on my account of the process in an effort to validate and clarify my interpretations of their perceptions. …

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