This week, I really enjoyed working and interacting with my classmates through blog posts and twitter. I looked through many of my classmate blog posts and I was able to stay interested post after post because even though we were all given the same prompt for the week 2 post, we all had unique and individualized answers. It was interesting to see an area of practice that others were interested in working on, from what I noticed, it seems like most of us have pretty different areas we would like to work on, from digital literacy to implementing 6 minute solutions, to writing for ELL students. The diversity of our posts was also present in out responses about why collaboration with other teachers is important. We all had different reasons or metaphors to use to explain why collaboration among peers is important, but one thing rang true for all our posts, and that was that we all realize and understand the value and importance of collaborating with one another.
From this blog post experience I was able to connect with a classmate who said she is investigating a similar idea to mine, so that was exciting, especially when she promised to share any good article she found with me!
At the beginning of this course, less than 2 weeks ago I was new to both Twitter and WordPress. Trying to get both these new technological medias started at the same time was challenging, however now, not even two weeks later, I feel pretty fluent at using both sites, and instead of signing or dreading using the sites I am now excited to see if my blog got any new comments or if there are any interesting tweets posted since I last looked!
The weekly twitter chat we had earlier in the week I also found to be an interesting experience. One of my fear before the session started was that the conversation and tweets would appear too quickly, and I would be able to keep up and I would get lost in the conversation. While I admit at first, the conversation did move quite quickly, I soon was able to catch on a keep up with the tweets, and I was able to even include some tweets of my own! So while this is all new, I am finding it to be a very interesting process, and I am liking these two sites much more than I expected!
How do I want to improve teaching and learning in my classroom? How can collaborating with others support my teaching and learning goals?
One way that I am interested in improving my teaching and learning in the classroom is by decreasing the amount of talking I do and increase the amount of talking my students do, particularly for the purpose of discussing literature in class. We discuss literature in both small group settings and whole class settings, and I would like to see my students take command of the discussions, to share their ideas openly and to listen and learn from their peers through discussion. Currently, my students struggle to share their ideas easily, and struggle to maintain conversations.
Collaborating with others can be beneficial for meeting learning goals and supporting teaching through a few different ways. One obvious method is the exchange of ideas. It is always good to work closely with other professionals. because there is a good chance they will know something I don’t, and be able to share a strategy that I don’t know. Other educators can also support one another through observations of teaching. Sometime if I have an idea for my classroom and there is something new I want to try I can ask one of my co-workers to come in a watch or check it out and observe a portion of my teaching, and tell me what they think of what they saw and share feedback. It can also work the opposite direction, I have had teachers ask me about curriculum and ask to come watch me teach certain portions of the curriculum they were having trouble understanding, to improve their own practice. Working and collaborating with other teachers can be one of the best accessible resources a teacher can access at school. When I work closely with other teachers I feel safe and successful. I know I can talk about challenging things with my peers, both strengths and weaknesses, without and risk to my professional reputation or evaluation.
As always, when I begin a new class I start off with positive intentions and and eager attitude, but despite these good feelings I often feel a little lost and confused during the first few weeks of a new course. It can take a while until I feel comfortable knowing what is being asked of me through assigned tasks. I completed the initial blog post hoping I had answered the question in a way that was appropriate, correct and insightful.
After reading and reflecting on blog posts from classmates I was able to see that I was answering the question correctly and I did post a thoughtful response. Reading their posts made me see that I had some of my ideas right, and reminded me of some other important things to remember when conducting a research project, such as the importance of peer feedback and the fact that not all methods work in all classrooms.
Reading my classmates ideas was a reassuring process for me and reminded me of some things to keep in mind. I need to stay focused on my research project, and narrow down my focus soon and choose a topic, so I can start to direct my energies toward my focus and begin gathering resources for annotated bibliography.
What is classroom research and how can it improve teaching and learning in my classroom?
To answer the first part of this question classroom research is the process of investigating and collecting data pertaining to certain specific aspects of teaching practices. Research involves forming a guiding question first about a concern or issue a teacher has. then over time, the teacher/researcher uses various methods such as observation, interviews or testing to collect data. Data analysis occurs next, where the researcher intends to understand what information from the data tells. Lastly, the researcher creates a conclusion based on the data analysis. The conclusion is where the teacher/researcher is able to decide how to use the information and analysis that has been gathered through the research process.
Research can improve learning and teaching in classroom in a few different ways and for a few different reasons. First off doing research is a form of reflection. It demonstrates the fact that the individual realizes there is room for growth and change in their practice, which is always a beneficial mindset for an educator to maintain. Additionally, classroom research gives a teacher insight into specific things that are happening class, that might otherwise be overlooked. It gives the teacher the opportunity to analyze their practice objectively and make real, powerful changes in their classroom.
I have never done a research project based on my practice before, but I have done other projects and activities that forced me to take a close looks at a very specific part of my practice in previous courses I’ve taken. The process was very enlightening for me and I was able to see some very specific strengths and weaknesses in my teaching. I expect, and hope, that after I complete the research project I will feel the same way.