Professional Development through Teacher Research

We recently published Professional Development through Teacher Research edited by Darío Luis Banegas, Emily Edwards and Luis S. Villacañas de Castro. In this post each of the editors share what motivated them to put the volume together.

Darío: Except for a few cases, the role that teacher educators play is often ignored at the levels of research and pedagogy. Recognising ourselves as teachers of teachers can be both a great weight and a great privilege in the land of formal education. My interest in working on this was directed by these questions: How do language teacher educators use teacher research to self-direct their own professional development and enhance their practices? What different experiences and trajectories do colleagues navigate in different contexts? This second question encouraged us to contact teacher educators based in countries usually underrepresented in the international literature such as Ecuador or Kenya. Through this volume, I want to contribute to conversations on knowledge democracy and flow, on social justice and representation, on engagement and agency, and on inspiring and inviting fellow educators to examine and share their take on the connections between research and pedagogy in their own educational spaces.

Emily: Practitioner-research can be transformative, not only for the practitioner themselves but also for others involved either integrally or peripherally in the research. Teacher educators have a lot of potential power as agents of change to initiate a cascade effect of professional development and benefits for themselves and others (their student-teachers, their colleagues and peers, and their students’ future students and school communities). At the same time, they can struggle with the dual, often misaligned, teaching and research pressures of their work contexts. I am continually interested in how the processes and products of doing research can change educators – whether they are student-teachers, in-service teachers or teacher educators. So in preparing this volume, I was keen to learn from the chapter contributors about their own motivations, processes, designs, perceptions, learning and responses to the challenges they encountered in the practice of engaging in research. Another question on my mind was what kinds of support and supportive environment teacher educators might need to conduct and publish classroom-based research studies.

Luis: In their job, teacher educators have to fulfill a two-fold goal, and this often involves a remarkable challenge. On the one hand, they want their student-teachers to fully enjoy and engage in the activities that they design for them, with their present-day motivations, experiences and growth in mind. On the other, teacher educators also hope that these activities will have the middle or long-term effect of helping their student-teachers become competent and creative teachers in turn, hence capable of designing activities that will motivate their school or high school students in the future. But how can teacher educators make sure that what their student-teachers learn and experience in their training courses will transfer to real school contexts? One of the reasons I decided to help assemble this volume was to explore the role that research might play in reconciling these present and future, direct and indirect, goals. Researching their own practice and inducting student-teachers into research initiatives and strategies may be the best way for teacher educators to train autonomous and self-directed professionals.

Our personal motivations coincide in stressing the importance of creating meaningful and sustainable teaching and learning experiences that may start in teacher education and have rippling effects across the educational system and beyond. We hope you feel the same after reading the volume.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Preparing Teachers to Work with Multilingual Learners edited by Meike Wernicke, Svenja Hammer, Antje Hansen and Tobias Schroedler.

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