I believe that both reflection and research are critical to my own, as well as others’, ongoing professional practice. These two important aspects of education provide meaningful information that helps educators to be successful. After diving deeper into the role of professional inquiry in the classroom, I realize just how important research can be to teacher development. Research can be done on specific topics such as students learning styles, classroom management, and instructional content. Like it stated in one of the videos, research is not only meant for the experts. Teachers should use research in order to grow professionally in specific areas. Data collection and analysis can be done collaboratively so that participation promotes active learning. In my years as an educator, I have been involved in many opportunities that have allowed me to work with other colleagues to collect and analyze data. I have seen how the value of classroom research has helped to propel teacher instruction, which ultimately leads to student learning. Along with research, reflection provides insight into ones own strengths and weaknesses within the educational world. Reflection allows us to move forward in the fact that it requires us to identify an area to grow. Nobody is perfect and changes can always be made so that we can improve our craft. Through collaboration and observations, one can actually reflect on their own teaching. I think that research and reflection are connected in the sense that reflection can encourage research while research requires one to reflect.
In my current workplace, reflection and research can be seen in various ways. However, I believe that both would be more important to my professional practice if I were given more time and opportunities to effectively use them on a daily basis. For example, as all those in the educational world know, there are many things to accomplish in short periods of time. While teachers reflect on lessons and student performance regularly, it would be nice to have the time to record reflective thoughts in order to make future decisions. Taking more time to reflect on teaching strategies and student performance could enhance a teacher’s professional practice. While methods of informal reflection are done all the time, I think schools, administrators, and teachers could do a better job of setting more time and resources aside so that effective reflection can take place. I have learned that reflection, based on the outcomes of a lesson, can encourage teachers to make changes that will have lasting positive effects. When it comes to research, I believe that teachers need more support in order for it to enhance their practice. For example, I think many teachers don’t fully understand the concept of research in the classroom. I believe that support and instruction on how to implement research methods would greatly enhance the value of classroom.
Chelsea Fay teaches 3rd grade in North Philadelphia. She's studying the connections between school and classroom leadership.
As a self-proclaimed American football 'honey badger,' I've always felt that it's my duty to ignore Sundays' television screens and screams from impassioned fans. My intentional ignorance is not part of greater anti-sports or anti-competition agendas but a genuine lack of interest in losing hours of my life on the couch watching other adults exercise in ways that would really benefit me to try. The Super Bowl, however, is the day I become a stalwart supporter of the NFL's cause. I live for the holiday season every year as I count down the days until the next Thanksgiving starting January 2, to quell my holiday desolation- but the Super Bowl and all of the traditions upheld on this February American Sunday gives me one last opportunity to relish in all the family feels.
This year's Super Bowl was especially noteworthy as the hometown team competed for the national title against one of the most winningest teams in NFL history. The Philadelphia Eagles' season in itself was like something straight out of an Aesop fable and even earned the team the nickname, "The Underdogs." Over the past six months the media highlighted the greatest challenges working against each player on the team, the team as a whole, and the entire organization. From injuries sustained by starting players to an "inexperienced" coaching staff, it didn't seem likely, from the perspectives of pundits and statisticians, that the Philadelphia Eagles could make it to the game-of-games; but, they did. And, not only did they make it to the Bowl, but their competition was the same team with the same star player that had beat them in their last Super Bowl appearance over a decade ago. Talk about a screenwriter's dream...
So, here we are. The outcome is exactly what one should expect from a fairy tale story; but the difference between the classics and the triumph in this narrative is the shared tenacity. Some of the best motivating speeches in history have been spoken by athletes in the last seven days and stories continue to surface about fans, team employees, and cheerleaders who never gave up on their lifelong dreams to partake in what happened on Sunday, February 4, 2018.
Since Sunday I've been involved in various conversations with fellow Philadelphia educators about the Super Bowl and the positive results, as well as the surprising and unfortunate results for the New England Patriots. The interdisciplinary and universal themes of determination, persistence and steadfast beliefs are central to the narratives about this topic. But, I wonder, are we being too generic and airy-fairy in our approach to teaching the underlying life skills elucidated by this event? As adults, teachers, and learners, what life skills are we synthesizing and illuminating for our students and neighbors, and for ourselves?
At the conclusion of the city's celebratory parade Philadelphia Eagles' Center Jason Kelce delivered what is being called the "most epic" speech attributing the team's win to the passion and drive of his coaches and teammates. Earlier this week millions watched as the Eagles' Quarterback Nick Foles shared his postgame thoughts on the significance of failure as a tenet of life. While these orations highlight necessary principles for winning, they don't dive deeply enough into the nuances of each team members' and staff members' daily grind. The passion, drive, and failure noted by Mr. Kelce and Mr. Foles are, in my opinion, glorious results of the quotidian minutia of what we deem as "work."
So, again, I implore you to consider how we connect our discipline, and perhaps your own successes and failures, and the lessons consequentially taught by the reigning champions with our students' thoughts and learning, and their hopes and dreams.
Jaimie Piotrowicz is a 5th grade, public school Teacher in North Philadelphia. She is conducting research on the connection between teacher happiness indicators and subsequent student success.