SCHOLAR PRACTITIONER PLATFORM
It seems like I have always been a scholar. After 17 years of schooling, I took a job as a teacher. The catch - I was not a teacher by training. Since I started teaching I have only had 1 semester with no official training. It would seem that I do not know how not to be a scholar. I am new to idea of educational research but excited for the possibilities it might hold for the future of my career.
Early in my career my inexperience in education was a benefit because I was eager to learn and excel - I like to be good at what I choose to do. I was constantly forced to reflect on my practice based on what I was learning. I started blogging in my second year of teaching as a way to publically reflect on my practice. This allowed me to revisit my reflections in subsequent years and encouraged me to connect with other reflective practitioners around the world. It is important for scholar-practitioners to stay humble and be open-minded in order to keep learning and growing.
Although I did a fair amount of research in my life as an undergraduate Chemistry student, I have only started paying much attention to educational research in the last year as a part of CASTLE and UKSTL. As an aspiring school technology leader I have come to realize that research and data are extremely important parts of any technology initiative. Technology use must have a connection to student learning that can be clearly demonstrated. All stakeholders in my school should see that I use research and data (scholarship) to guide my decision-making (practice).
I believe that in order for an educator to effectively lead, they must find a balance between scholarship and practice. It is nearly impossible for an educator to practice without a commitment to scholarship. Teachers need to know that their leader has a knowledge of pedagogy. However knowledge needs to mean something and be applicable. Teachers need to be able to identify with leaders and feel comfortable approaching them. This takes character and morals. Formal or informal school leaders must be able to develop relationships with teachers in order to lead change. Leaders must be caring for all people and be able to rise above petty behavior. A scholar-practitioner should be a role model for those around him/her.
As I grow in my role as a scholar-practitioner I need to balance scholarship and practice and make sure that I am honestly reflecting in order to improve myself. I must commit to being a leader who is able to be both innovative and critical. My colleagues must see that I use my knowledge to practice innovation but also that I am humble and continuously learning. I need to use my scholarship to take initiative in my role (practice) and be proactive about seeking feedback from those I work with. The teachers around me should see that both scholarship and reflection are improving my practice.
Teachers and leaders should never feel comfortable in their job - they should always be striving to improve their practice. I am attempting to move from my role as a teacher to a role as a school technology leader. Leadership takes a different skill-set than a classroom teacher. Using educational research to form and develop my leadership practice will be essential to becoming a good leader. I have found that asking questions relevant to my situation and attempting to answer them through analysis of current literature is extremely effective for gaining knowledge. With the vast amount of literature available it is not necessary for me to reinvent the wheel each time I have a problem. However this must be transferred to my practice. It is through action research that I will be able to make the literature practical to me in order to grow and improve throughout my career.
At some point it is also my responsibility as a scholar-practitioner to not only observe but contribute to the field of educational research. My professional blog is a place for reflection but also for sharing my action research and anecdotal evidence. As my roles in education change throughout my career, my blog is the perfect jumping off point to share my research. I love connecting and engaging in discussion with other educators around the world. My blog might also be the end-point for sharing. I do not have to be published in a leading journal to feel fulfillment as a scholar.
My role as a scholar-practitioner is constantly evolving and will continue to evolve as my career progresses. At this point in time, my practice is guided by research, reflection, relationships and a commitment to a professional-personal life balance. As I step into greater leadership roles, I am confident that my practice will be guided more by research and data without losing sight of being a caring and ethical human being. In the short time I have been a graduate student at the University of Kentucky, my mindset has already been transformed. I am no longer naive to the role of scholarship in professional practice. Scholarship-driven practice with a focus on reflection and relationships is now a necessity in my career.