Action Research

Blog: Action Research: Professional Development as a Tool for New Teacher RetentionResources:Eight Step Addendum and Example: Essential Websites:



Week 1
Discussion:
Please share a problem or curiosity of particular interest to you as an administrator: one that you believe would benefit from an action research investigation. As part of your response, please share: why it is a problem of critical importance. how you believe an action research study would be beneficial in solving this particular problem, or addressing this curiosity.

If I were an administrator, one area I feel would benefit from an action research investigation is Professional Development for new teachers. This is a problem of critical importance because new teachers leave campuses and districts due to the lack of support they receive from principals and veteran teachers. New teachers need support of administrators and mentors to help them to be successful from their first day on campus. They are really thrown into a sink or swim situation. Many come straight from a college classroom with all kinds of ideas of an utopian school: a school that is 'perfect,' with 'above average' students who follow all the rules and never give anyone a moment of trouble, a school where there is community and parental support, and where money is no object when there are needs. Or they come from industry, where things are accomplished in a totally different way, with several lines of command or lots of money to spend to fix problems. Then reality hits them: there is no such thing as a perfect school.

Action research, according to Dana, is intended to bring about change of some kind (Dana, 2009). Action research could be used to find "best practices" for new teachers. This should include input from new and veteran teachers and from administrators. The change should involve ways to improve teacher retention. I love the analogy used in Examining What We Do To Improve Our Schoolsof a principal's quest to get healthy. Action research must involve the steps a physician takes to diagnose and ultimately help a patient to health, namely, a systematic approach to improvement (teacher retention) based on the process of inquiry and use of diagnostic data from multiple sources (Harris, et.al., 2010).
Sources:
Dana, Nancy Fichtman (2009). Leading with passion and knowledge: The principal as action Researcher. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Harris, S., Edmonson, S., and Combs, J. (2010). Examining what we do to improve our schools: 8 steps to improve our schools. Eye on Education Press.

Week 2
Discussion:
Respond to the following:
• the purpose of your proposed action research study (in other words, answer: what you will research – you may identify more than one topic of interest)
• the significance of your proposed action research study (please explain who will benefit in some way(s) from the information that your action research project will provide, and how they will benefit)
"In light of teacher shortages, coupled with grim statistics on teacher retention that reveal that 'after just three years, it is estimated that almost a third of new entrants to teaching have left the field, and after five years almost half are gone' (National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, 2003, p. 19), a principal's support of new teachers in his/her building becomes more important than ever (Dana, 2009, p. 40)." The principal has the awesome responsibility of facilitating the learning and professional growth of all teachers and staff in his/her building. That includes keeping teachers (and staff) alive and growing throughout their careers with professional development that matters. This includes professional development to prepare new teachers for life in the classroom. My "wondering" for research is: How can professional development be improved to help new teachers get the support they need to be successful from the very first day on campus? The title of my research is "Action Research: Professional Development as a Tool for New Teacher Retention."
PURPOSE OF ACTION RESEARCH: Many new teachers leave the profession due to lack of support and training. This is not to say that universities are not doing their job training teachers to teach in their chose discipline. New teacher are also given an insisght into what a classroom "may" look like. In reality, no two classroom envioronments are the same. Each campus has a different feel or climate. You may walk into a campus and feel the a positive energy from the front door with the first greeting you recieve.
SIGNIFICANCE OF ACTION RESEARCH: There has to be a better way to prepare and encourage new teachers to continue in the profession. I feel that professional development is just the first step to this outcome.
Source:
Dana, Nancy Fichtman (2009). Leading with passion and knowledge: The principal as action Researcher. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Week 3:

Discussion:
Please share the following components of your action research plan with your classmates, along with brief supporting rationale for each part; this might include: a description of the context or setting of your study; an operational definition of your target population; how you will select your sample; brief rationale for your sample size; a brief description of how you will conduct your research. Please be as specific as possible in your identification of your study purpose and significance.
My action research wondering is "How can professional development be improved to ensure success for new teachers?" Many new teachers leave campuses and districts due to the lack of support they receive from principals and veteran teachers. New teachers need support of administrators and mentors to help them to be successful from their first day on campus.
Description of the Context or Setting Study:
My action research will be district wide. I am working with our Technology Director to find out if professional development can be structured in such a way to support new teachers. She has tried to pair new teachers with mentors at the school in they work. She has also made sure the mentor and mentee teach the same subject. This is a year long project. We are anxious to see the impact this study will make on new teachers and how it will help mentors.
Target Population:
The target population is new teachers, with 2 years or less teaching experience in the district. The action research is voluntary, no money or stipend will be available.
Sample Selection:
Fifty teachers were selected for the study, one mentor per new teacher. New teachers were called or sent an e-mail inviting them to take part in the research. Mentors were invited to take part via the same method. The way I found out about the research is by accident. I needed help on the Web design assignment and went to talk to our Technology Director. She asked if I would help and be a part of the study.
Rational for Sample Size:
The sample size represents at least two teachers (our campus is larger, so we have more participants) from each campus, at this time. It can be expanded is more express interest in the study. Again, there is no money or stipend involved, strictly voluntary.
How Research will be Conducted:
We have made a commitment of 72 hours for the study. This includes meeting once a month, meetings between mentee and mentor on their campus, mentors visiting mentees in their classroom for support, completing surveys, and viewing and commenting on selected videos either at meetings or at home. There is a site for the study (being updated by the Technology Director with help from me) that is available for participants, and ultimately for the any interested person once research if completed.

Week 4:
Discussion:
Please share the following with your classmates for this week’s discussion:
• What specific challenges do you foresee in implementing your action research study?
• How you plan to address those challenges?
My blog address: http://www.hwscott.net/educational-technology/action-research.
My research wondering, how to use professional development as a tool for new teacher retention, will, of couse have challenges. The main challenges I foresee with my action research include, but, of course, is not limited to:
• teacher apathy
• time constraints
• lack of commitment from mentors (mainly due to the above, time constraints).
To overcome these challenges will also be a challenge. The one thing we do not want to do with the research is add undue burden on the mentor or the inductee. I think the best way to overcome all challenges is to be flexible. We will also have to send many friendly reminders to help participants remember our timeline. We also want ways to reward participants, mostly with attaboys, but just some way to show we appreciate their time and commitment to the research.

Week 5:
Discussion:
As you look back on what you learned during the past five weeks in our action research course:
• Please share one specific topic of your greatest insight or new learning – what really caught your interest.
Strategies for Sustaining Improvement section of Examining What We Do to Improve Schools gave me the greatest insight. I did not realize that there were names for the strategies we use almost daily at school.
Please share one specific area where you still want to learn more.
One area I would like to learn more about is management, time, and career training. The link at http://www.mindtools.com has resources I plan to explore in-depth when I have more time. I know this information will help my students as they prepare for life beyond high school. Many do not have career goals and need a little guidance. I know that there are literature holders in many areas at LIT with this type of information; students need to know this before they get to higher learning.
For the area/topic you identified in Part (b), please state what you will do to continue to build your applied knowledge in this area.
I will continue to build applied knowledge by visiting the Mind Tools website and others like it. I feel that the information they have to offer will help not only me, but my students and peers. I know I have a tendency to procrastinate. I try not to, but I do. I also know that as I continue to work toward a position of management, I will need to have training to be effective.