P134: Research collaboration leading to increased energy and sustainability in the classroom
Though we may have entered the profession thinking we would be the transformative teacher featured in the next Hollywood movie about schooling, we often find ourselves dealing with a myriad of challenges in the classroom on a daily basis. When one teacher does this work alone, it can be exhausting, frustrating, and hard to sustain. When collaborating with others, however, new ideas and energy flow, and the process is much more likely to be inspiring and revelatory. This is why working with a committed, smart, and thoughtful group of teachers increases teachers’ performance in the classroom and the sustainability of teaching as a long-term profession. We will speak about a collaboration that we participated in with six Chemistry teachers from our district and researchers from a local university. In this year and a half collaboration, we gathered and analyzed data about how students think about chemical concepts, with the goal developing learning progressions showing the evolution of student thinking. Throughout this work, we learned how to better interpret students’ responses and identify the assumptions behind their ideas. The research team became a community of learners, reading and discussing current chemistry education literature, and continuously voicing and discussing our ideas and thinking. Engaging in this discourse and having the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research in the field was both energizing and transformative to us as teachers. This experience gave us additional tools to enhance our teaching and opportunities to influence chemistry education on a broader level.