Sunday, June 9, 2013

Action Research and Educators using Blogs

Action Research and its Use:
Through the reading and other various resources this week, I have learned the importance in action research for an educational leader.  Action research, or administrative inquiry, is a reflective process during which an administrator studies his or her own craft through questioning and data collection.  Change and the sharing of results are also included in action research.  Through this process, an administrator can gain a deeper understanding of himself and his leadership tendencies.  Action research is different than traditional research in that is it ongoing and specific to an administrator’s campus or district.  Rather than an outside expert informing a school how it should change, an inside view is gained through inquiry and is more specific to the context of the school.
As I engaged in my own inquiry this week, I reflected on the kinds of action research we practice in my district.  One thing that we are also trying to improve is student engagement.  One way we tackle this, in the form of action research, is through the CARA cycle.  Each department is allowed to set its own instructional goal.  For example, the history department may choose to improve student engagement through critical writing.  First the history department researches critical writing and student engagement through outside sources.  They then decide to the try various best practices to increase student engagement through critical writing. They measure student engagement in two ways: first in walk-thrus, which are conducts by instructional leaders, and second through test scores. The history department would then analyze the data and discuss the impact of including more critical writing in their classrooms.  They would then share their findings with the rest of the faculty at a meeting.   
By engaging in action research, like in the example above, educational leaders have a great opportunity for professional growth.  Rather than sitting in a workshop and maybe trying a strategy afterward, teachers and administrators are awarded the task of figuring out the solution for themselves.  Through this challenge, the learning and professional growth is more authentic. 
Also, an administrator engaging in action research becomes a model for his or her staff.  As the “head learner” on campus, an administrator must demonstrate the behaviors he or she wants to see (Dana).  If a principal expects his or her staff to engage in professional learning, he or she must also take time out of the busy day to do the same.
Educational Leaders using Blogs:
Education Leaders can use blogs to log and “capture” thinking, as Dana says.  Rather than simply collect data in the form of numbers, blogs can amass thinking in the form of words.  These words will create an historical account of the thinking and decision making on a campus.  Some concrete ways an educational leader can use a blog are as follows:
·         A Superintendent’s or Principal’s blog:  Through a blog like this, Superintendents and Principals can keep in touch with a community about campus and district happenings.  It is an easy way to showcase community events or warn that report cards are in the mail.
·         Instructional Leader’s blog: An instructional leader, like an instructional coach, can chronicle best practices being used around campus.  Blogs are a great forum to feature teachers using novel instructional strategies in the classroom and post resources for other teachers to do the same.