The Teacher as a Researcher.

The temperature starts to dip just a bit. Anxiety increases a tad and our hours of sleep start get reduced ever so slightly. We think about grabbing that light sweater but we don't because we want to hold onto the last straw of summer. And we scoff at the idea of having to pack lunches all over again. Ahhhh the joys of a brand new year. 

For some of us, these feelings and occurrences are all to familiar and have a hard time coming to grips that our vacation is over. Yet, the feeling that percolates deep inside starts to increase just as September hits. That feeling of excitement of a fresh start, new faces, new tools, waxed floors and spotless windows. The new school year has arrived! 

This is the first few weeks back for many so it is quite a busy time. I've learned that its just as busy of a time as a parent as well. We, as parents, are adjusting too, to the new routines and even commutes. But some of us have spent the summer or are already thinking about how to better ourselves as human beings inside and outside the classroom. Spending personal time reading, making, organizing during the off season. 

Let's call this the rise of the teacher/researcher. There are so many teachers I have met and others I hear about through word of mouth and social media platforms who are constantly pushing the envelop as educators trying new things. These "things" don't just come out of thin air, they're researched. 

There are a variety of simple research strategies that teachers can easily implement and try out themselves such as Action Research. Action Research is simply looking to solve a issue through observing, creating a plan, implementing it, observing the results and reflecting on it. Don't teachers do this already? Pretty much. The best part of Action Research is that its a constant cycle which is meant to create more positive results. Sign me up!

The most important element as teachers/researchers is to not be bias. All too often we make assumptions about new language learners or students of different backgrounds or learning abilities and this usually creates an undesirable outcome. Students of a different background or who have different learning abilities have the exact same capacities as everyone else, sometimes even more. As teachers/researchers is our ethical responsibility to not bring these biasses or assumptions into our research regarding our practice or students. With this in mind, the action research becomes that much more reflective and the advantages are that much more rewarding in the end. 

The same thing goes for our own personal research. If we have a bias towards a certain approach to live, teaching or organization it distorts out ability to absorb new learning which can lend itself to the possibility of positive change. 

So here is to opening our minds to new things, personal growth and helping the students who need us the most, not forgetting our own personal well-being along the way.

Happy New Year!

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