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Unschooling, democratic schooling, and other alternative education principles are not typically addressed in a standard teacher education program. What happens, though, when they are? In this presentation we will discuss how a visit to a local free school shaped our vision for teaching. Our research consists of a collaborative self-study of teaching practices. According to Samaras (2011), "self-study research builds on the necessity of a relationship between individual and collective cognition in teachers' professional development and the power of dialogue in building a learning community of engaged scholarship" (p. 5). Essentially, self-study research allows teachers to work together to pursue an area of inquiry. This pursuit is done collaboratively through a concept called "critical friends." As Samaras (2011) stated, "critical friends are trusted colleagues who seek support and validation of their research to gain new perspectives in understanding and reframing of their interpretations" (p. 5). Using the self-study research paradigm we have collectively pursued the research question, "How can we make our classrooms more democratic, learner-centered environments?"

Our purpose for this presentation is two-fold. First, we will share our own path towards considering how public, K-12 classrooms can be more democratic as well as how exposure to educational alternatives has shaped our pedagogical thinking. Second, we will provide an overview of self-study research and present this research paradigm as a practical, reflective research strategy for teachers and other professionals who are interested in staying connected with colleagues and continually pursuing scholarly inquiry in a collaborative and supportive manner.


This is a metadata-only record.



  • Subject
    • Education

  • Institution
    • Dahlonega

  • Event location
    • LTC 369

  • Event date
    • 31 March 2015

  • Date submitted

    18 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Dr. Adam Jordan