|Abstract||This paper seeks to describe how my teaching philosophy and practice has evolved over time, influenced by principles of action research, reflective practice and Living Educational Theory. These influences have motivated me to strive to work in life-enhancing ways with peers and students, often in the face of considerable pressure locally and nationally, and in turbulent times. Evidence of this work permeates the paper, which is presented in an informal voice rather than in traditional academic language, as it is mainly a personal narrative.
The paper describes the evolution of my practice as an educator, from early days in primary-school teaching, through staff development at a New Zealand polytechnic for 18 years, then as research manager in a Maori tertiary provider, self-employment as a researcher, and later in university staff development units in New Zealand and now in Ireland. Over this time, my philosophy and sense of agency have changed as I have encountered influential theories.
The longer I have worked as a staff developer, the more I have realized that the action research approach lends itself both to individual as well as to collaborative inquiry, although the latter is my preference (see Bruce Ferguson, 1999). My work over the past two decades in particular has stressed the importance of declaring my own values and holding myself accountable for these. McNiff and Whitehead’s (2006) Living Educational Theory approach requires me to provide evidence of this accountability, evidence that shows the impact of my practice on others. The paper provides such evidence.