Fieldwork Reflections: Marc Hill

The Teaching of English M.A. program at Teachers College offers a bi-weekly workshop series and colloquium for all student teachers in the program. The goal is to connect M.A. students with the work of master teachers and leaders in English education in ways that will inspire them to implement innovative instructional practices in their own classrooms. The “Fieldwork” strand of the blog provides M.A. students with a forum to discuss how the featured presenters’ work might influence their own practices in the field.

Marc Lamont Hill (TC): What is Research? The Art of Classroom Inquiry

On January 26, Professor Hill specifically tackled the question that had been irking me since his previous session- how does one actually design and implement a study?   The most satisfying answer to this question lay in Professor Hill’s discussion of possible research methods; he offered real examples based on a proposed line of inquiry and brought up some unique methods that I had never before considered.  For example, the use of social media in the collection of data- communicating with students in a platform they feel comfortable with.  As an educator passionate about incorporating technology into the English classroom, I was intrigued by the idea.  Many of my classmates brought up fair counterarguments regarding the problems and pitfalls that come with Internet use in the classroom.  I believe that Professor Hill offered solid, easily followed advice about ways to use social media responsibly (i.e. creating an alternate Facebook account or group page) and setting ground rules/boundaries for students when using such a platform for discussion.

–       Jessica Nevitt

Professor Marc Lamont Hill’s lecture on teacher research was one of the most informative professional workshops I have attended at Teachers College. The subject is unfamiliar to me, but given my immediate need for the acquisition of teacher research skills the workshop was extremely relevant…One of my primary concerns about teacher inquiry was what constitutes as data and how do you measure student engagement. Dr. Hill explained that data was just an intimidating term and that in the classroom data can take various forms such as student head counts, surveys, interviews, journal writing, essays, and grades. A teacher can observe and notice student participation on their own or they can assign this task to a willing colleague because often teachers are not fully aware of student reactions in the midst of teaching a lesson.

–       Nelson Diaz, Jr.

It was also extremely helpful for him to break down the process of coding data, because it’s a much more objective way of interpreting data than just generally reflecting on everything and making a conclusion. When the data is already as subjective as student work and conversation, it’s great to have a method for looking back at it all and finding patterns and themes. And then the recommendation to pick one or two themes from there and write about them in detail is extremely helpful, because it would be really easy to try to talk about a million different things and end up with a very scattered final product.

– Katie Campbell