Practice

Rationale for Action Learning Consent Form

 

This artifact is a new consent form that I have created for my students and their parents or guardians so that I can ethically invite my learners to contribute their ideas, images and work to my ongoing efforts to improve my own practice as an educator. This Action Learning consent form is especially critical as I would like to share what I am learning with other educators and influence decision-makers through using images that I have collected as evidence and examples from my practice.

 

This artifact demonstrates my growth in understanding that during my first year as a practicing teacher, I have not merely been conducting formative assessment, teaching digital literacy and facilitating ‘service learning’ as best practices, but that I have actually been undertaking action research (Creswell, 2015). I was relying on the fact that families already sign school consent forms for participating in online learning and for having their photo taken. I had an uncomfortable feeling that this might not be enough when I submitted a video and photo-based project to the BC Green Games, but now I know that I need to get written consent from parents and guardians for what I have been doing with my students, not just their verbal agreement, however enthusiastic – especially since we won last year. My students are minors, and they are not fully cognizant about the potential risks to sharing their photos, videos and creative work online. They are vulnerable to my influence and power as their teacher, even if I am “just” an exploratory teacher, and don’t have the power to give out “real” grades. I have grown in my ability to recognize that I now have coercive power over my learners and their caregivers, even if it often doesn’t feel like it to me and even if I try to avoid using it.

 

Since becoming a certified teacher instead of an educator working with non-profit and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), I have acquired many more legal responsibilities to ensure all aspects of the safety of younger and more vulnerable learners. In my transition from working with young people on a voluntary to compulsory basis, it has taken me time to recognize the balance of power between myself and my learners has shifted, and that this power imbalance has shifted even more during my quest to become a researcher. It is important to reflect on cultural differences between different sectors involved in education (Montuori, 2005). I have grown through the discomfort of this encounter, as “transitional experiences, in which the individual moves from one environment or experience to another, tend to bring cultural predispositions into perception and conflict” (Adler, 1975, p.14).

 

An advantage to learning how to facilitate learning through NGOs is my responsive reflex towards always collecting and using formative assessment to adjust and improve my instructional strategies and theories of education on an ongoing basis. I candidly ask for feedback from my students and invite their input into my instructional and curricular choices so that I can improve and tailor my teaching to their needs and preferences. However, during my graduate program, I have learned the utmost importance in gaining and maintaining written consent, not just verbal agreement to do so. This will allow me to ethically use the evidence I gather to inform not just my own theory, research and practice, but that of others as well.       

 

References

 

Adler, P. (1975). The transitional experience: An alternative view of culture shock. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 15(4), 13-23.

 

Creswell, J. C. (2015). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. (5th ed.).  Boston, MA:

Pearson.

 

Montuori, A. (2005). Literature review as creative inquiry. Journal of Transformative Education, 3(4), 374 - 393.

© 2019 by Emily Menzies.