Teachers

Teacher as Researcher

Teacher as Researcher

The notion that research happens only in a laboratory is far stated from the reality of the work that happens at Growing Seeds. We believe that children are born with an innate sense of Rotating21being scientific researchers, the ability to questions and wonder and create meaning and connections. As inquisitive teachers, we are researchers alongside children. We study our students, our environment, the ever changing research about human development, the continually evolving best practices related to early education and our own work. The process of researching is constant and part of everything we do. Listening closely and careful, intentional observations and reflections are the key to the creation of a project or "curriculum." Projects begin by listening to children talk (including a babbling infant) watching their play and interactions with others and the materials, by taking notes or tape recording conversations, and repeating back to the children what teachers hear them saying. Projects can begin by a teacher posing a question that has occurred to the teacher through observations of the classroom and the children or in order to open a discussion of one of the concepts the teacher intends to explore with the students. As researchers, teachers must hypothesize about what they see and hear to offer provocations and proposals to students as a way to engage and further their understandings. As they invite students to use what they have suggested, teachers begin observing. This is a constant process. A teacher researcher is always listening with full attention for thoughtful responses from the students. Questions are a great way to engage a group with the materials that have been proposed and a great way to capture children’s theories and stories. Questions are most successful as a form of communication when the child knows they are being asked sincerely. In order to keep questions as an effective way to engage with a child, we ask teachers to be consistent in respecting the child's answer. Asking "Would you like to..." is all right as long as the child can respond "No," and has the option to not do whatever is being offered. Each child has to know that when a question is asked, it is asked with the hope to hear their answer and that their choice or thoughts will be respected. It can be confidence building to know that a teacher is interested in what they have to say. Teachers make eye contact, repeat the key information they share, and ask follow-up questions that will help them to dig deeper to show the children in your room that what they say is valued and that their input has significance in their classroom and their story. When teachers work with curious and questioning minds and see themselves as researchers alongside of the children, then new knowledge is always under construction. Teachers ask questions that help develop research skills and support inquiry.