“Teacher-researcher”… What does that even mean?

We know what a teacher is. We know what a researcher is. But what happens when we merge these two concepts?

Picture the following: you check your calendar to know what classes you need to teach this week. Then you check you class records to remember where you stopped and prepare for the next lesson. Finally, you teach the lesson, assign homework, and “see you next class”.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that arrangement. Your students are catered for and making progress. But how about you? What did YOU learn in this process that might contribute to you as an educator? That’s where the notion of teacher-researcher comes in handy.

Doing research in teaching means actively selecting classroom aspects that need improvement, implementing a course of action towards reaching those goals, and analysing the outcomes –both in terms of teaching technology and learning achievements. For more, see Mills (2000)

As an example, I mostly teach one-to-one classes and, a few years ago, I noticed a group of students started to lose interest. I decided to reach out and ask how they felt our classes could be improved. A few replied “I wish you would invite students over more often, so we talk to different people sometimes”.

After bouncing ideas around with a few peers and doing some research, I started implementing group classes. Once a month, I get all my students together in same-level groups to chat. More importantly, I felt safe implementing such change as I was backed up by data. For hot-off-the-press information, check out the study by Sampson (2021)

Although that suggestion came from a specific group of students, I noticed a significant shift in overall engagement. Also, setting up a group-class calendar made my life much easier as getting students together used to be a burdensome, frustrating, inconsistent method.

This is just an illustration of the impact small, well-informed adjustments can have in your practice. What aspects of your lessons do you feel need improvement? Share in the comments.

See you next time.


Mills, G. E. (2000). Action research: A guide for the teacher researcher. Prentice-Hall, Inc., One Lake Street, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458.

Sampson, A. (2021). Group classes, one-to-one tuition or self-study: which is most effective for language learning?

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Arthur Damião Médici

Arthur Médici has been in ELT since 2009, working as an independent teacher since 2013. With a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Psychology, he has a keen interest in English for Academic Purposes and professionalism for independent teachers.

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