Action research enquiry into reflection in action as part of my role as a deputy headteacher
This thesis is based on a four year research study, in which I have looked at my own practice as a deputy head in a large comprehensive school, using action research methodology. I was concerned about the quality of support the school offered its teachers in the form of staff development for which I was responsible. Once I started the study, I was able to put into operation technical solutions to the problems identified in my everyday working practices but realised that the way in which I worked with the teachers was a much more fundamental issue. The study shows how I addressed, within the action research methodology itself, the ethical dilemmas that arose when I worked with departments, middle managers and individuals; in particular how I resolved the difficult issues of confidentiality and informed consent from not only an insider researcher perspective, but also that of the deputy head. Within a hierarchically organised institution, I learned to work with teachers collaboratively, enabling us all to participate in a dialogical learning community, in which we took control of our learning so that we owned our development, establishing value positions and supporting and nurturing each other through empathising with each other's experiences. We learnt to recognise, value and express our feelings about our action and our learning, using 'story' to transform our understanding of a situation and to engage others in exploring new perspectives of it. In this thesis l show how teachers can effect changes which lead to improved professional practices, greater understanding of each other and increased motivation and how their school-based work was legitimated by the Academy in the form of Post Graduate Diplomas. This thesis describes and explains how I established learning communities of teachers in order to improve the educational experiences of our students. I have used Schon's (1983) work on reflecting-in -action to theorise about the nature of the reframing teachers need to undertake in order to understand and put into effect practical interventions which result in them living their educational values more consistently in their practice. The enquiry is contextualised as a study of my leadership role as a woman deputy head action researcher in a comprehensive school, acknowledging that I see my work through a 'female lens' as l present an authentic description and account of my educational practice.