Academics researching in schools - making first contact

Year: 2003

Author: Sim, Cheryl, McCluskey, Kerryn

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

It is almost one hundred years since Dewey stated that the purpose of research in all its forms and disciplines was an "effort to understand and help others understand what teachers and learners do during the process of learning and what this means potentially for the education of teachers" (Dewey, 1904/1974). Early in 2003 the author of this paper began a research study that investigates the development of relationships between teacher mentors and preservice teachers. The aim of the study seeks to examine the extent to which the concept of community of practice influences the construction of professional identity through the situated learning of preservice teachers in selected school settings. Associated with this aim is to identify the potential for 'communities of practice' to address the anxiety of teachers in the context of seemingly overwhelming levels of change in education and society affecting their professional roles and identities right now. Ironically the researchers found that the anxieties of teachers actually affected their efforts to entice schools and teachers to be involved in the study. This paper focuses on this first stage of the research study. It examines the dilemmas experienced by the researchers as they endeavoured to encourage schools and teachers to participate in the research. It raises issues about the relationship between academics in teacher education and schools and how we can facilitate teachers' involvement in future research in schools.