BUILDING BRIDGES BETWEEN THE THEORETICAL AND THE PRACTICAL
Ron Wideman and Jackie Delong
The articles in this issue are all by classroom teachers and school-board consultants. Classroom teacher Anda Kett writes about using EQAO test results to inform her practice. Classroom teacher Elaine Hamilton and consultant Heather Knill-Griesser collaborate to describe their efforts to improve student writing. Consultant Cilla Dale describes what she learned about developing a relationship of trust with the classroom teachers with whom she works. Finally, Janet Trull writes about her experience in a team of five centrally-assigned early literacy teachers attempting the seemingly overwhelming task of improving early literacy programs in seventy-five schools.
The accounts tell the writers' stories, their trials and tribulations trying to improve their own practice, and what they learned as a result. They transmit a passion for professional learning and teaching and a dedication to school improvement that can inspire others to follow.
We were interested in the differences of opinion these articles generated among our reviewers. Some loved the informal, flowing, narrative accounts of the inquiry of teachers. Others wished for more structured presentation of formal research papers. The purpose of this journal has, from its inception, been to provide a forum for a range of action research writing. We don't want to invest in black and white polarities about what constitutes a research article but rather to contribute to the knowledge base of the profession by celebrating the voices of teachers writing from their own experience. Some of them will be writing for academic accreditation and some of them will not.
Whereas in the previous issue, all articles were derived from University degree work and reflect the criteria of academic writing, all of these articles are informal research projects. As an editorial board, we value both.
Rather than organizing the material into sections titled Methodology, Findings, and Conclusions, these teachers integrate writing about their inquiry process and what they learned into a more informal narrative. This kind of story-telling may make the teacher's research more accessible to practising teachers. We have also found in our work with teachers, that informal research projects and writing are often precursors to academic study. They provide the writers with personal experience that inspires them to seek out and integrate more formal research. Similarly, such articles can illustrate through case study what has also been learned through more formal research and, more importantly, can raise questions that lead to further study. We have a real interest in building bridges between the theoretical and the practical, the formal and the informal, so that both kinds of research and writing are seen to be of value in building professional knowledge.