Action Research in the Classroom
The classroom is a very interesting place to start. As a teacher, there are a lot of privileges for me since the students look up to me as an authority figure. Admittedly, there are times that dealing with students can become very stressful, especially in moments that students are very difficult to direct and control. When kids become naughty and the teacher does not have the sensitivity and the patience to deal with them, it might simply become a nightmare. Even if the teacher has a natural penchant for loving and teaching kids, it can still be a bit of challenge to teach them.
The teacher has a very important role in the intellectual and social development of the kids in the school. If they do not appreciate education, it is the duty of the teacher to inculcate in them the importance of education for themselves and for their future. This cannot be done, however, by shoving these ideas down their throats.
Rather, what is needed is a careful observation of their ways, the things they enjoy as well as the different modes of learning that they have, the activities they enjoy inside and outside the school.
By undertaking an action research and carefully observing the students, the teacher will be able to understand the students more and use this understanding in making the classroom more effective in terms of educating the students and preparing them for the future ahead of them.
Some of the areas of observation would be the study habits of the students, their social standing in the community and how this impacts their studies, the social activities they enjoy inside and outside the school, the role of their parents, their learning styles, and the different media that they are exposed to.
The observations presented in this action research may be a bit crude, yet they may be expanded upon as time passes by and a better understanding of the students will be arrived at.
Action research demands keen observation skills regarding the different areas identified by the researcher (Avison, Lau, Myers & Nielsen, 1999). In observing the study habits of the students, what I have looked for is the way that they regard the library, the media that they enjoy well and the different kinds of media that they are exposed to.
In going through these observations, I looked at the rate of submission of homework by the students; I also went to the library and conducted random observations if my students were there. In terms of preparation of homework, a number of students were not very keen in completing their homework.
A handful of them heeded my requests for them to study and complete some homework. Both honor students and some silent kids showed aptitude in completing homework. Those who did not complete homework tended to be those who are very playful and did not show great concern for their studies.
My trips to the library were not very fruitful. The number of students who frequently visit the library does not even exceed the number of my fingers in one hand. Only when I gave an assignment that expressly required them to go to the library did they go there and looked for the information I requested them to look up.
Perhaps this may be explained by the proliferation and the widespread use of the Internet among my students. Most information can be found in the Internet, so they may choose not to go to the physical library anymore and simply type some words and click on some links. The challenge is therefore to make students realize the value of the library.
Economic and Social Standing
My students are predominantly white although there are Asians, Hispanics and Blacks interspersed. Most of them were either in lower middle class and those who are found in the middle of the middle class segment of the society. As such, most of the kids did not enjoy great amenities and economic riches. Those who belong to the upper middle class tend to have parents who exert greater influence on other teachers and on the school in general.
Because of their social standings, more than half of my students had to keep part-time jobs to pay for their bills and meet some of their needs. This also poses another challenge for the teacher. Even if they did not absent themselves from school frequently, because of their work, there were times that their study habits were affected.
Instead of spending their time in reading their lessons, they have to work and earn money. This may also explain why a lot of them were not able to do their homework. Once when I was in the mall, I encountered a student of mine working there and had a conversation with her.
After that, I decided to also look at the work of my students and look at the nature of their work and how the nature of their jobs affects their studies. Truly, economic situations affect the well-being of the students. But since they have no choice, then the teacher would have to do his best to take into account these realities in the way that they are being taught.
Activities Outside the School
Students who belong to higher economic status tend to enjoy more time outside the school. They hang out at some cafes or snack bars where they can chat about school. I also asked several of them regarding the activities that they do and these kids also tend to sleepover at each other’s homes.
Students who belong to lower income families, however, tend to limit their outside school activities so that they can earn some money for personal and for family use. They still hang out with some of their friends; however, this is less frequent than the students from higher income families.
Another activity that occupies the leisure time of students is their use of game consoles such as Playstation and Xbox. Through these bonding moments, they develop their relationships with their friends. This is also their way of relaxation. Connecting to the Internet and connecting socially to friends. Video games is also a past time that some students told me they do during their leisure time.
The Role of Parents
I was not able to observe directly the role of the parents in the education of the students. From my conversations with students, however, those who belong to middle class and higher income families usually have their parents reminding them to study well and do their best. This in turn encourages the students to study better. In some cases, parents promise rewards for their children if they perform up to a certain level.
Those from lower income families, however, do not have very encouraging parents. Rather, they are expected to help out in paying some of the bills in the house. This arrangement, however, does not seem to dampen the desire of some students to study well. There are those, however, who tend to get discouraged with this and focus more on their jobs than on their studies.
Implications for the Teacher
The teacher has a very important role in the development of the students; especially so, because he gets to stay with the kids longer than their parents. Observing students and trying to know them more deeply will help the teacher in dealing with the students. With the sheer number of students, however, it is difficult to observe each and every student. Nonetheless, the teacher is called upon to establish meaningful relationship with students because then, the process of teaching becomes more enjoyable.
The teacher has to vary his teaching style depending on the students and their backgrounds. Their study habits has to be understood well so that the teacher will know how to approach them and present the lessons in such a way that the students will understand. Not only that, when their learning style corresponds with the teaching style of the teacher, then they will not only learn but they will also come to love the way that the teacher teaches.
Action research enables the teacher to become a part of the world of the students instead of simply a detached outside force in the classroom. When this is undertaken, it opens up important insights, which can help the teacher improve his teaching strategies and style.
The teacher’s role in the life of the students is very important. As such, it should not be taken lightly. By becoming immersed in the life and the studies of the students, the teacher becomes a friend and a mentor to his students.
Avison, D., Lau, F., Myers, M. & Nielsen, P. A. (1999). Action Research. Communication of the