Facilitating Transformative Change for New Teachers, Gilbertson and Nicolaides

Dr. Erica Gilbertson and Dr. Aliki Nicolaides have just published a new paper with Action Research journal. They explain:

“Action research is fundamentally a human-centered endeavor, so its power to facilitate change can only be fully realized if action researching leaders cultivate human relationships. This article invites you to dig deeper to the processes action researching leaders can use with their research teams to build the learning community necessary for successful action research. The trust and relationship building elements of action research are sometimes overlooked in favor of the larger goal, but these elements are critical.

Our study focused on developing interventions to support new teachers within a school-university partnership context. From the outset of the study, we prioritized community building strategies with our research team that included 4 university faculty and 4 school district administrators. 

Our article provides detailed advice for implementing these community building strategies. For example, at your first AR team meeting you might show a video or read an article that prompts an open-ended discussion around the topic your research team is addressing, such as teacher retention. Each team member comments on something that particularly resonated with them and you begin to learn one other’s “why.” For example, what motivates each team member to care so much about new teacher support? What difference would it make to the school district and the university to pay close attention to new teacher support? Anchored in understanding our “whys,” we began to see each other as human beings who all brought different experiences and expertise to the common dilemma, and we understood more about what motivated each of us to care about the problem. This strategy helped us to begin to build our collective efficacy.

Our findings showed that the community we developed early in the action research process was essential to facilitating the powerful program redesign, which ultimately had a positive impact on new teachers. We concluded that action research should be leveraged to create systems change within P-12 settings—but, just as important, action research also facilitates transformative learning for individual educators and groups of educators when community building is nurtured throughout the entire process. 

Read the full article or return to the forever link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/14767503221147012