Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Educational Reform, Coherent Teaching Practice, and Improved Student Learning

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  • Cochran-Smith, M., & Lytle, S. L. (1992). Communities for teacher research: Fringe or forefront? American Journal of Education, 100, 298-325.

Cochran-Smith and Lytle are advocates for research by teachers, suggesting that it represents a distinctive way of knowing about teaching that will both contribute to and alter what we understand about teaching. In this article, they consider the obstacles to teacher research and argue that overcoming these barriers requires building and sustaining intellectual communities of teacher-researchers. The obstacles to teacher research are deeply embedded in the cultures of school and university organizations and in the traditions of research. These obstacles include: teacher isolation created by school structures that provide little time for teachers to learn together and by school cultures that value autonomy and privacy; school cultures that perpetuate the myth that good teachers do not admit to having questions about their own practice; the knowledge base for teaching that is thought to be constructed by university researchers; and the negative views of educational research held by most teachers. There has been a growing movement to provide organizational time so that groups of teachers can work together and learn together. Cochran-Smith and Lytle created a framework for helping groups of teachers plan collaborative work. The framework considers four perspectives: organizing time, using talk, constructing texts, and interpreting the tasks of teaching and schooling. Cochran-Smith and Lytle present rich detail of studies to illustrate how each of these perspectives contributes to teacher research. They believe that communities for teacher research have the potential to move teacher research from the fringe to the forefront and can, thus, play an instrumental role in school reform.

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