Monday, February 2, 2015

The beginning of an action research expedition...

Action research enables practitioners to work through problems in real-time using the process of reflection, action, and evaluation.  It gives educators a voice, encourages them to work with colleagues, professionalizes their career, and provides them with a multitude of data to inform practice (Hendricks, 2013).  Educators are a reflective group who consistently adjust instruction to meet the needs of learners, so action research is a valid platform for finding and implementing research-based strategies that can be used in the classroom or in a large school setting.  

I hope fostering parent, teacher, and community partnerships at Swansboro Middle School will have many benefits:  creating rapport between parents and teachers, assisting teachers with communication strategies, providing resources for both the school and the community to benefit students, and possibly increasing student achievement (Epstein, 2010). 

Initially, I want to survey my population to determine our needs, and then use that data to implement one strategy over the next few weeks.  For example, parents may feel there isn't enough communication “keeping them in the loop” or that the communication they receive is mostly negative.  Our action for a few weeks may be for teachers to choose a few students from their class weekly and make a point of writing notes home about those students'  progress while highlighting something positive they've done or said during the week.  I’d like to follow up with a focus group or individual interviews to determine the effects of the action from the teachers’ perspectives.  Was it a worthwhile activity?  Did you learn anything about your students or their parents you didn't know before?  Is this an activity you would consider continuing?  From there, I'll use survey data and inquiry data from teachers to determine the next action to implement.

Epstein, J. (2010).  School, family, and community partnerships:  Preparing educators and improving schools. (2nd Ed.).  Boulder, CO:  Westview Press.

Hendricks, C. (2013).  Improving schools through action research:  A reflective action approach. (3rd Ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ:  Pearson.


  1. Crystal I think your AR has some real potential. Parent communication seems to be an area were many schools get dinged. Increasing positive communication can really go a long way in advancing community relationships that ultimately could lead to increased student engagement. Our system has adopted the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, and students in the elementary schools are being “coached” in how to be reflective learners who can discuss their strengths and areas for growth. Having the students lead parent discussions are a great idea. I do think that students and teachers might need to be coached as to how to do this, but that it could be done. Do you have a plan as to how train the students and teachers in this process?

    1. I was thinking about using the Teaching Channel as a video resource to share with the staff. Initially, I'll have some teachers volunteer to "pilot" the student-led conferences, and then have them share their experiences with the staff about what worked well and what needs more work.