Gail Perry, Barbara Henderson, and Daniel Meier responded to a selection of questions and comments during an online event from April 23–27, 2012. Read the questions and their responses below!
Teacher Research and Practitioner Inquiry
We are at a place in the field of early childhood education where we are often asked to do more and more in our teaching and caregiving. Given all of the demands and responsibilities teachers face, we are in need of a support system for self-reflection and critical thinking, and space and time for addressing our important questions about our day-to-day practice.
The approach of teacher research, or practitioner inquiry, is a systematic process where we focus on an issue, challenge, or question in our work, devise a plan for collecting relevant data on this focus, spend dedicated time each week to collect the data, analyze and reflect on the meaning of that data, and then consider making changes in our teaching, curriculum, and learning environments to improve our teaching and our children's learning. It's a child-centered and teacher-centered approach to deepening our knowledge of child development and high-quality, developmentally appropriate teaching.
As you think about the potential value of this approach, consider a few issues or challenges or questions that might become the focus for an inquiry project.
- What is a current challenge or question I have in my teaching? Is it researchable? How do I get started?
- Given how busy I am when I teach and my general work demands, how can I find the time to do a teacher research project?
- How can I organize my data?
- How do I analyze and reflect on my data? Do I have to have special research skills?
We'd like to help you think about these elements in conducting teacher research and practitioner inquiry. We'd also like to share our ideas and strategies for making a place for inquiry in your professional teaching and work!
— Gail Perry, Barbara Henderson, and Daniel Meier