Theme: Teacher Research
Dear Valued Readers,
Welcome to the June issue of NELTA ET Forum. The theme of this issue is Teacher Research. Like all other professions, teachers are facing various challenges in their classrooms on a regular basis. Traditionally, they were supposed to seek support from the ‘experts’ to solve those problems and they were expected to follow the prescribed solution. But there is a growing trend to value teachers not just as consumers but also the producers of knowledge. The recent literature and discussion suggests that teachers can be successful only if they design activities and materials that are appropriate to the context they are working in. This gives teachers control and autonomy over their teaching pedagogy in the classroom and empowers them.
The concept of teacher research believes that teachers need to see themselves and their students as co-constructers of knowledge regarding which pedagogy best suits them. Rather than blaming the system, administration and colleagues, teachers need to put efforts to bring about changes in their classrooms. They should learn to take responsibility for what happens inside their own classes.
To support this, academic institutions can/should encourage teachers to conduct action research. Teachers can collect the everyday classroom issues, and students and teachers can work together to address any issue that occur in their class. This helps teachers to review their classroom practices and become more effective in their efforts.
In line with these arguments, Dr. Paula Rebolledo in her article Teacher Research as Research introduces the concept of Teacher Research and discusses how it is different from the usual ‘academic’ researches. She concludes her paper mentioning how teacher research helps teachers in their professional development.
Similarly, in the second article on Teacher Research as a Means for Continuous Professional Development, Dr.Aslı Lidice GokturkSaglam explains how classroom-based research can have a positive impact on teachers’ professional skills. She has provided ideas and links to resources useful for teachers to learn how to conduct such research.
In the third article, entitled Exploratory Action Research for Teachers, Ms. Babita Sharma Chapagain discusses the concept of exploratory research and shares how she started practicing this type of research in her class. Finally she shares the process adopted to conduct Exploratory Action Research.
In her article entitled Pragmatics Analysis: A Significant Tool in Literature Teaching, Ms. Motikala Dewan presents the pragmatics analysis of the language discourse, context and its function in the William Golding’s novel Lord of the Fliesto, and sees their relevancy in real life situations.She further tries to look at the purpose of language use and its function in the text on the basis of Speech Act Theory of Austin and Relevance, theory of Sperber and Wilson.
Finally, in the last post entitled Teacher Research: From Universities to Himalayan Highlands, one of our editors DN Joshi has presented the perspectives of three scholars on the status of teacher research in Nepal.
Please click on the links below to access the articles in this issue.
We hope that the issue will help the readers conceptualize the idea of teacher research and inspire them to reflect their pedagogy to improve their classroom practices. Please write your ideas on the issues discussed in the articles in the form of comments and feedback.
Laxmi Prasad Ojha
Dr. Paula Rebolledo*
The emergence of teacher research schemes has become increasingly popular in recent years. Such is the case of the AMEP and ELICOS action research programmes in Australia, the AARMS programme in Nepal and India, the Champion Teachers Programme in Chile and Peru, the Cambridge English-English Australia action research scheme in the UK, the CAMELTA teacher association project in Cameroon, the TESOL EVO on ‘Classroom-based research for professional development’, just to name a few.
These initiatives, which encourage and support teachers to do research in their own context, draw on the many benefits associated with this activity as a transformative way to promote teachers’ professional development and as an inclusive approach to subdue the theory/practice divide. However, even though the advocacy for teacher research is widespread (see Maley 2016 for an opposite perspective), there are divergent views about whether ‘research’ is an appropriate term for this activity or if less ‘loaded’ concepts need to be used instead.
Dr. Aslı Lidice GokturkSaglam*
In 2016 with Kenan Dikilitas we designed an online and open source training program within the scope of TESOL CALL-IS Electronic Village Online (EVO). In 2017, we invited Richard Smith to take the lead and shifted our focus to helping teachers in relatively difficult circumstances. During this online collaboration-based initiative, which emphasised research by-teachers for-teachers, I was able to witness the great transformative potential of teacher research as a professional development strategy. I have seen how empowering teacher research can be in my own experience as an online mentor in Classroom-Based Research EVO since 2016. Every year teachers from diverse geographical and educational settings come together for 5-weeks virtually through asynchronous (Facebook groups, Google Plus community and Web 2.0 tools) and synchronous mediums (webinars in ADOBE) and deepen their knowledge about teacher research by exploring open-source links and engaging in weekly activities and tasks. Locating teachers at the center of the learning process, this online training encourages its participants to reflect, research and review their classroom practices and interaction with their students.
Babita Sharma Chapagain*
It is obvious that we teachers experience both successful and challenging situations in our teaching. Since we are overburdened with tight schedules, we don’t usually have the time to think what happened and why in both of the situations. Consequently, the challenges get multiplied and can go beyond our ability to handle them. Lack of practice of reflecting on the situations can make us lose the opportunity of learning from our successful experiences. In other words, we might remember we were successful at some point and feel good about it but we may not exactly recall what specific strategies made us successful at that time so that we can adapt those strategies in our present teaching context. Similarly, when we begin to sense that we are unsuccessful, we might begin to develop a tendency to blame students’ abilities and/or behivour or we might jump into new actions without examining the situation carefully. However, we may fail to solve issues if we keep taking actions without having a good understanding of the problem itself. The repeated failures can be dangerous as they might lead us towards having frustrations and negative impressions about teaching profession. This short article has intended to guide teachers to carry out exploratory research to support themselves to have a deeper understanding of their teaching situation and guide themselves to develop appropriate action plans.