Teachers as Researchers

Johanna Brand

ETFO provides professional learning programs that allow members to conduct in-depth action research. In this article, participants in Reflections on Practice (ROP) and in the Teachers Learning Together (TLT) programs reflect on the impact their involvement had on their students, their teaching practice, and their professional lives.

Lyndsay Buehler, a member of the Waterloo Teacher Local, studied the impact of partnered reading in grade 1. Naaznin Jetha Ismail, a member of the Elementary Teachers of Toronto Local examined whether participative classroom management techniques could improve student engagement. Amy Jensen, a member of the Hamilton-Wentworth Teacher Local, investigated the effect of using the Language of the Virtues™ (specific language used in character education) on grade 1 students attitudes to problem-solving in mathematics. Their studies are published in the book Reflections on Practice, Participant Research, Vol. 4.

The TLT team of Lisa Johnston, Mae Gatschene, and Mike Crawford conducted their math-focused action research project over two years at Lyn Public School in the Upper Canada District School Board. In the comments below Johnston speaks for the team.

ETFO members who undertook action research were sometimes surprised to discover that their work had unanticipated benefits and that these benefits continued after their study had ended. Lasting changes in classroom practice, a stronger professional voice and increased confidence, and a greater leadership role in their schools and locals were among the unanticipated consequences of their participation in the program.

Deciding to take part

A frequent reason for participation in a program like ROP or TLT is the opportunity to network with colleagues from across the province and to learn and grow as a teacher. Participants also had specific pedagogical goals as they chose their research topics.

"My vision is to teach my students to become lifelong learners, to help them enhance their achievements, and engage them to take responsibilities for their own learning. I am always trying to understand my students’ disengagement and lack of interest in learning . . . Having grown up in the Congo, I have first-hand knowledge about how a human being’s life can be affected and manipulated without education. So my quest has been to search for an answer to the issues I faced in my classroom.”
—Naaznin Jetha Ismail

"I needed some new direction for how to structure independent reading time in my grade 1 classroom and couldn’t find anything that worked for me or my students in the books and articles I was reading.”
—Lyndsay Buehler

"I strongly believe that all children can learn math and be successful. However, I learned through speaking with parents that their own negative experiences could impact their children’s attitude towards math. I wanted to learn if incorporating character education into curriculum would have a positive impact on students’ attitudes towards mathematics. There was little information


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