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  • Writer's pictureallisonjolester

Going Slow to Go Fast: The Art of Locating a Teacher Research Question




Picture this: You're out in the wild, adorned with your Indiana Jones hat, peering through your trusty magnifying glass, knee-deep in the murky waters of teaching practice. Your mission? Locate that elusive, sparkling gem - a teacher research question.


I know what you're thinking: "Wait, I didn’t sign up for an expedition!" But hear me out. Finding a research question is a lot like being an explorer: It's arduous, mysterious, and involves more twists and turns than a maze designer's worst nightmare. But, oh, the reward when you finally unearth that gem! And believe me, having been in the trenches alongside countless teachers, I can confidently tell you that the journey is just as valuable as the destination.



So, what exactly is a researchable teacher research question?


Imagine it as a guiding beacon illuminating the path to inquiry in your practice. It's a question that stems from your curiosity about your practice and, when answered, has the potential to transform your teaching and your students' learning.


However, locating that question is not a dash; it's a marathon, a slow-paced marathon, where you grapple, stumble, and question everything in sight. And just when you feel you’re going mad, the fog of confusion lifts, and voila! You find it. It’s painful, no doubt, but, oh, so rewarding!

Now, before you start this expedition, let's set the criteria for what makes a good teacher research question:

  1. Relevance: Is this question important to your practice, and does it address an authentic issue in your classroom?

  2. Inquiry: Does the question prompt investigation and discovery?

  3. Clarity: Is the question clear, concise, and easy to understand?

  4. Actionability: Can the answer to this question inform changes in your practice?

Great! Now that we have our map, let's dive into a few examples:

  • Instead of "Why aren't my students engaged?", try "How does my use of questioning techniques influence student engagement during math lessons?"

  • Swap "Why are my students not performing well on tests?" with "What impact does incorporating formative assessments have on my students' test performance?"

See how these questions target specific aspects of practice and demand action? That's the kind of treasure you're hunting for!


Okay, let's strap on our boots and prepare for the expedition. Here are a few tips, activities, and strategies to locate your teacher research question:


1. Slow Down: In the frantic world of teaching, it's crucial to slow down, reflect, and tune into the nuances of your practice. Give yourself time to think, ponder, and wonder.


2. Embrace the Struggle: Uncertainty and confusion aren't your enemies; they're signs of active inquiry. Welcome them. Wrestle with them. Befriend them.


3. Journal: Jot down observations, ideas, and questions from your daily teaching. Look for recurring themes or lingering questions that can become your research question.


4. Collaborate: Chat with colleagues about your practice. Their perspectives can spark new questions and provide the necessary clarity.


5. Prototype: Play with potential questions. Write them, revise them, say them out loud. Which ones resonate? Which ones light a fire in you?


So there you have it! The journey to locate your teacher research question might feel like you’re trying to catch a unicorn with a butterfly net, but remember: the struggle is part of the process. Take it slow, embrace the chaos, and keep your explorer spirit aflame. Because locating that question is just the beginning of an even greater adventure - transforming your practice.


Happy exploring!

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