By: Lexie Fichera
When I first started teaching, I thought that there was NO way to do ANYTHING beyond the “call of duty” during the school year. Planning, grading, administrative tasks (my nice way of saying, “paperwork, paperwork, paperwork”), professional development, continuing education courses…there wasn’t enough time in the day, week, 180-day-plus-vacation-and-weekend-time school year for that alone, never mind any activities beyond that.
Flash forward to the end of my third year teaching. After taking Dr. Jodene Morrell’s amazing course at Teachers College, “Literacy, Culture, and the Teaching of Reading,” as part of my graduate program, I could feel this need to stretch that seemingly impossible extra mile. The course, coupled with my classroom experience in a Title I middle school (where I taught at the time), shed light on the inequalities in education. The readings emphasized the importance of teacher influence and culturally-relevant pedagogy as part of bridging the opportunity gap. Suddenly, I realized the great importance of my role as an educator, an importance that transcends the walls of the classroom and the doors to the school building. And that’s when I asked, “What more can I do?” And Jodene replied, “Join LTI!”
In spite of my “Ah Ha! Moment,” I still did not know where to start in my research. So, I looked for patterns and disconnects in my classroom—I began to analyze what my students just did not understand and observe when they seemed disinterested. I would quickly jot down what I noticed and when I noticed it. In my second year of LTI, I did this first step with more intention and wrote in a research journal. As I sat on the train on my way home from work, I would reflect on something that stood out to me from my lessons that day. As I kept up with my journaling, I began to notice patterns in my reflections, such as writing about successful strategies or “best practices,” class culture, student engagement, and areas of improvement, which I called, “ideas for future practice.”
And that’s it!
But not all.
I promised you I would tell you where to begin…