Chapter 1 identified and defined the seven steps of the action research process. This chapter identifies some specific activities that teachers can engage in as they work their way through this process. To illustrate some possible activities, I will now walk through the seven steps and discuss how I might have addressed them when teaching writing to 9th grade students.
The first step of the action research process calls for a significant investment of time and energy. Because of the time pressure experienced by classroom teachers, the annual ritual of choosing professional development goals and school improvement targets usually doesn't receive the reflective time that it deserves. This becomes costly in at least two ways. Often teachers end up committing themselves to work on projects that, upon later consideration, weren't really worth their time. And, on other occasions, although the educational outcomes teachers pursued might have been worthwhile, the interventions that were hurriedly adopted often turn out to be an inadequate match for the local situation. Both of these problems can be avoided if teachers are encouraged and supported in becoming more deliberate in their planning.
So how can busy teachers work through the [getting ready] process while at the same time attending to those other issues vying for their limited time? The following strategies have proved helpful for many teacher researchers who are searching for a meaningful focus.