A few weeks ago, I attended a workshop hosted by the Central Arizona Writing Project (CAWP) at Arizona State University. The workshop, “Tools for Teacher Researchers” featured scholar Ruth Shagoury from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Ruth is a huge supporter of teachers and teacher expertise, spending much of her time in classrooms learning from teachers as they work together in inquiry work, moving their practice forward and positively impacting the lives of children. She has published several books and research articles including the seminal texts, “The Art of Classroom Inquiry” and “Living the Questions,” which are both used in college courses and teacher researchers. These books are useful guides that lay a foundation of support for college students and classroom teachers as they navigate the sometimes messy, yet uplifting and transformative work of teacher research.
Ruth’s interactive workshop provided each of us with ideas and tools for beginning to reflectively think about our practice and think like teacher researchers. She provided concrete examples of classroom research that is being implemented in classes with a range of learners. We discussed framing questions, collecting data, the importance of kidwatching, and paying attention to the successes and tensions in our classrooms that are all part of the inquiry process.
One of the most important ideas that I gleaned from this workshop was creating a career for yourself where you get to do the things that you love. Ruth has had a tremendous career, and continues to learn and grow each day with the teachers who she has the opportunity to work with. Upon graduation, even before, this is the work, which I wish to do. I wish to continue to work side by side students and teachers in their learning communities, growing and learning from them, and keeping myself embedded in the work of the classroom.