So, teacher research is a compound word formed by two words joined together; teacher and research. Nothing new there (!). Let’s look at these two words closer. A teacher is commonly found in a classroom promoting learning, and research is a process usually carried out by researchers who are interested in finding answers to questions by studying situations in depth.
It seems to me - I may be mistaken of course - that we do not often find these two words together. Why is that? Why do these two common words appear to be so novel when put together? Let’s try to unpack the novelty of teacher research further. How often do you -teachers- read research about English language teaching? How relevant is it for your teaching? Probably your answer is: not very often and not very relevant.
Teachers have expressed a number of reasons to consider research irrelevant for their practice, the most common being that research focuses on issues of little importance for their classrooms. Indeed, research is usually carried out by researchers in areas of importance to them and for their own purposes. Then, why would it be relevant to teachers? I believe research can be relevant for teachers and if we expand our understandings of teacher and research, they can go together more often. However, for that to happen we need to change our views of teachers as consumers of knowledge by reading research for views in which teachers become producers of knowledge by doing research. In doing so, we need to provide the opportunities and conditions for teachers to do and read research. We also need to demystify research as a daunting, highly academic task with no use for the classroom. More importantly, we need to legitimise teacher research as a valid source of knowledge by calling it by its name; teacher research. Nothing new there; teachers doing research (!).
About the speaker:
Paula Rebolledo has 20 years of teaching experience and has taught at primary, secondary, undergraduate and postgraduate levels and in INSETT programmes. She currently teaches at MA level and works as a researcher and consultant. She is the former coordinator of teacher education at the English Open
Doors Programme (EODP) at the Ministry of Education in Chile. Her research interests include teaching young learners, teacher education, professional development and teacher-research. For the past 6 years, she has been mentoring teacher-research initiatives such as the Champion Teachers programme, the APTIS Action Research Award Scheme both funded by the British Council and the Laureate Action Research Scheme funded by Laureate Languages. She co-authored with Richard Smith A Handbook for Exploratory Action Research and co-edited the Champion Teachers Chile and Peru Stories of Exploratory Action Research. She is the co-founder of RICELT, the Chilean network of research in ELT.