Teacher Research in Urban Philadelphia: Twenty Years Working within, against, and beyond the System

Mar. 31, 2009

Source: Educational Action Research, Volume 17, Issue 1 (March 2009), pages 23 - 42.  

The paper takes the history of teacher research in one large urban school district over a period of 20 years as a telling case of the intensely local character of this work. The authors begin with an overview of the variations and different conceptions of teacher research in the USA. They argue that teacher research is continually being invented and reinvented by participants in the movement and is strongly informed by local conditions, agendas and epistemologies.
The authors use a multi-voiced text juxtaposed with published accounts, focused interviews and institutional histories. This narrative highlights work in three time periods, showing how teacher research has been within, against, and beyond the system, explicitly embedded in larger and local social and political contexts. The defining characteristic of teacher research in Philadelphia has been its primary commitment to improving the life chances of urban students and schools in a complex, embattled, and continually restructuring system. Although teacher researchers have privileged its immediate relevance, value, and impact in the situations where they work, their efforts may have common purchase with distal groups of teachers in the USA and beyond who also seek to use critical inquiry to initiate and sustain equitable change.

Updated: May. 14, 2009