When she started teaching a yearlong, graduate-level Teacher as Researcher course in the School of Education, Dr. Amy Vetter had no idea how the class would inspire her and her students.
The class ended in Spring 2008, but Vetter and several students went on to establish Triad Teacher Researchers (TTR). TTR, now six members strong, meets monthly to share research findings and ideas. Their goal is to pass their research skills and the findings of their research on to other teachers in their own schools and across the Triad.
“It’s sort of a homegrown, bottom-up approach to professional development – teachers collaborating with other teachers,” says Vetter.
TTR’s first annual conference takes place May 5 in Curry Building. Keynote speaker is Dr. Elizabeth Chiseri-Strater, professor of English and director of composition at UNCG. Chiseri-Strater is also a teacher researcher and author of “What Works?: A Practical Guide to Teacher Research.”
More than 50 presenters will conduct workshops. All area students, educators and administrators are welcome.
Group members have used their classrooms as research labs to apply and study various techniques. One member, a 10th-grade teacher, started a Writing Elite program for students who want to become authors.
Holly Wroblewski, a UNCG graduate, an eight-year classroom veteran and a TTR member, now teaches special needs students at E.M. Holt Elementary in Burlington. Wroblewski, Teacher of the Year at Holt, says Vetter’s class helped her to realize “how transformative it can be to look at my teaching in a critical way.”
“I’ve worked on several different research questions ranging from student metacognition while reading, to engagement, to my current topic, reflective journaling,” Wroblewski says. “I believe I’ve always been a teacher researcher at heart. I’m always thinking about struggles I face with my teaching and how I can make things better. Currently, I am looking at how reflective practice, through journaling, can change my relationship with my students and how that impacts my teaching.”
Vetter and Wroblewski want to see the group expand, reaching more and more teachers across the Triad.
“TTR is a great way for teachers to surround themselves with others who want an individualized form of professional development that they may not get elsewhere,” Wroblewski says.
Visual: Holly Wroblewski works with students at E.M. Holt Elementary in Burlington.