Saturday, March 28, 2015


One of the terms we use in teacher education is "unlearning."  What we mean by that is creating space for teacher candidates to unlearn what they thought they knew about teaching based on their experiences as students, or through what they thought teaching actually is.  In other words, to question what they think is true about students, the profession, and teachers.

 For example, when I started teaching at Aurora Alternative High School, I was appalled that some of my students would want to attend the local community college (never mind not go to college at all), as opposed to a state college.  I had to unlearn my assumptions that everybody who was going to be anybody in life was either a) a natural genius and didn't need to go to college or b) would go to a four year college.

What my students taught me--what I "unlearned"--is that "smart" looks different according to context.  I unlearned seeing my pregnant students as victims.  I unlearned that all graffiti was trashy.  I unlearned that smart meant being good at school.

Teacher research is all about unlearning: about questioning our assumptions and taking risks.  It is NOT about proving a particular hypothesis.  So what assumptions have you questioned about your students, teaching, or yourself during this process?  What new truths have you uncovered?  

Friday, March 20, 2015

Research Memo Option

Researcher choice this week.  Choose one of the following to guide your blog:

1. Write a memo on what you are discovering from your readings.  How does this literature inform what you have discovered so far in your own research?  What are some gaps in the research that your work may fill?

2. Write a research memo similar to two weeks ago, in which you synthesize this week's data in order to make meaning.  What new discoveries and questions have arisen?  What might you have to change (i.e., research questions, data collection practices) as a result?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Finding research on your topic

This week, we will be meeting in the library at the reference desk.  You will be looking for work that others have already done in your area of interest.  This will hopefully inform your practice and research, and maybe even give you new ideas on what to look for or questions to ask.  What is it that you already know about writing a literature review?

Now that you've been writing fieldnotes, and perhaps collecting other data, for a number of weeks now, what are some terms and phrases you might look for?  What is it that you want to see from other teachers and researchers to support you in exploring your questions?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Research Memo

Last week in class, we talked about the differences between fieldnotes and memos.  Fieldnotes consists of "raw" data, and are mostly descriptive.  Research memos, in contrast, are analytical and interpretive; i.e, they are an attempt to make sense of what you are seeing across your raw data.  Notice that I said "an attempt" here.  Leave yourself open to intuition and gut feelings here in these early stages of memo writing.

For this week's memo, look over your last week(s) of data collection.  What are some recurring themes and patterns as you review your fieldnotes and other data?  What new questions/surprises have arisen?  Write up a research memo that addresses these issues.