Bluewater Action Research Network (a.k.a BARN) is a group of educators who come together to improve their practice using the principles of Living Educational Theory (Whitehead, 1989). See our Living Poster for links to participants' research. Facilitators (practicing teachers who previously generated their own living educational theories) lead the group through a self-study, action-research process by introducing concepts such as reflection in action, authenticity in teaching, values based practice, self-directed education, and practice as methodology, so participants can identify the core values in their practice and check for authenticity by identifying living contradictions (instances when identified values do not align with their practice). Participants create narratives to document their practice and share with critical friends. The use of video is encouraged for data generation and reflection. Participants unveil embodied knowledge and generate their own living theories.
We come together as a group on the first day to generate research questions and begin the research process. Over the next few months, individuals have two days of release time from their classrooms and use this time to research, communicate with facilitators via Skype and email to gather feedback, share resources, ideas, questions, and observations with their fellow participants in person and via email, collaborate with teaching partners, interview students, meet in smaller groups with facilitators and peers, Skype with Jack Whitehead and so on.
On the fourth day, we gathered together to share the results of our research. This is the third year that we have received funding from the Ontario Ministry of Education Teacher Leadership and Learning Program (TLLP). In the past, we received enough funding to invite guests to our sharing symposium; however, this year our budget was reduced and we did not have enough funds to cover release time for other educators to attend. We did video tape all the presentations and have posted them on Youtube. Please see our Living Poster for links to videos and project descriptions.
As facilitators, we too seek to improve our practice in our classrooms and as leaders in BARN, and we constantly seek critical feedback. After the sharing symposium, we ask each participant to share their insights and observations on the impact (positive and/or negative) of this professional development opportunity. A link to the oral feedback will be provided pending participant permission and video review for Board ethical clearance. At this time, we can share the results of our survey conducted on Survey Monkey. See below for an example of written comments and a link to a PowerPoint data analysis of each question:
It amazes me that on this journey just how "connected" the secondary and elementary teachers were ... and how many times the words mindful, connected, reflective, authentic, voice ... came up amongst us all across the panels!
I can't express enough how amazing it is how you 4 facilitators have poured so much love and compassion into BARN. I was a little nervous at first that there was such a breadth in our grades and experiences that we were teaching within the group ... but that was something I learned early was silly to be concerned about!
This project provided me with the opportunity to take time to reflect and improve on my practice. It also gave me the opportunity to conference and work with colleagues. I have so many next steps that I can't wait to try!
This professional development was amazing because I was provided with time to guide MY OWN interests. This was simply invaluable. It is an opportunity to meet with other like-minded individuals; to bounce ideas off one another and to be in a safe space to be vulnerable.
I mentioned it during my presentation, but I really felt like what I learned through my research has impacted every area of my life.
This P.D. gave me the time and support to reflect upon what I needed to be a more effective teacher. It was simply wonderful.