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Challenges to Action Research: Professional Development as a Tool for New Teacher Retention

Posted by Hope Scott on Thursday, August 5, 2010 Under: Action Research
"So many things are possible as long as you don't know they're impossible." ~ Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth (1970)  The main challenges I foreseen 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.

Feedback from collegues:

Gail wrote: I suspect you would encounter more apathy from the mentors than the new teachers. In my experience the new teachers are always eager to learn and appreciate guidance, but sometimes the veteran teachers experience more burn-out and are not as motivated. Have you considered having a pre-service meeting with just the mentors to go over the expectations of the research and to clarify any questions about the roles? I think you are on the right track that a few emails and cheers will help your group stay on track. Time is likely to be a problem for both groups as the new teachers try to find all the resources they need and the mentors have that one more thing added to their schedules. Maybe a wiki that is open to all of the mentors/mentees could help. If you asked them to each post any of their own questions and then click on it, glance through the questions/comments, and make any responses they feel will help, you might find them communicating not only with their own mentor/mentee, but across the district.

Dawanna wrote: Sometimes it is time constraints from mentors but a lot times the veteran mentor teachers just do not want to do anything extra. They are usually burnt out or have issues with administration and they take it out on the new teachers.

Charlotte wrote: You are definitely telling the truth that your challenges will be a challenge. I have watched several teachers refuse to participate in staff development or training because of the time constraints. We have had to give incentives like offering snacks, beverages or make it mandatory. It is really a shame because the teachers lose out of a wealth of information or training due to lack of time. There is so much burden put on teachers to tutor for TAKS or other extra requirements. I would love to follow your action research to see what solutions you came up with to get the teachers to use professional development without the barriers you listed.

Lyndon wrote: Another challenge I see with professional developments are their relevancies. A good 60% of the trainings that I have been to in my 3 years of teaching are so inconsistent with my needs as a new teacher, I've made sure to bring something extra to do while I'm there. I've even completed online etp while at professional developments on other subjects. I think that it is important for conductors of professional developments to check how relevant what they are training is to what a teacher needs.

The comments are so awesome.  I love Gail's idea.  I think recording the meetings, audio or video, which allows anyone to view or listen online, will also add a needed dynamic to the research and will be valuable. I also like the thought of using camstudio and jing for screen and audio recording. This is a way for the presenter to show each step to be completed on the computer. The person viewing can pause and rewind, just like a video. I think we should also consider using edmodo, which is a private social network for schools, for interactivity and immediate feeback. Comments posted to edmodo are in real time; a message pops up to let you know you have a new post.  You can also get a message sent to your e-mail that you have a new post.  These are just a few ideas I think will make the reserch project run smoother.
Lyndon, I did not consider the relevancies of some of the trainings. Charlotte, I agree that teachers do miss a wealth of information due to lack time.

In : Action Research 



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Hope Scott I am a Web Technologies teacher. I created this blog as part of my Master of Education in Educational Technology Leadership for Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas.

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