I'm hesitant to share my "findings" with the world. Or anyone outside of this class. I am certain that I am not confident. And I'm certain that I'm in doubt of my efforts.
This school year has been a doozy. Not seeing family, and then having deaths in my family (not COVID related) has taken a mental, and physical toll on me. BUT, I have been determined to push through.
In my research, I'm finding I am having a lot of "I would've done this, this, and this differently." So maybe I'm having regret about how I did my research. Once I truly began reading research articles, I got excited. I kept finding more information (not rabbit holes) to support my idea that teachers need quality and on-going professional development. And I'm sad to say, I don't feel like I have provided the quality PD that I researched.
Working part-time as a magnet coach, and the other part as a teacher, really spreads me thin. Due to the pandemic, I'm having to manipulate curriculum for my teachings, and then create brand-new curriculum to support teachers. My job is going away next year. I have been tasked with creating lesson plans and rearraging my room, so anyone can walk in, grab a lesson, and start working with their students. I'm basically designing myself out of a job. From home. Without training. And it's heart-breaking.
So on top of mourning dead family members, I'm also mourning the loss of my position next year. Which makes me feel like a failure when it comes to my study. I'm doing the best that I can in these "unprecidented times". And that's all I can do at this point.
When I first started my research, I was really hoping to do help my colleagues in some major way. I envisioned my research would show holes in our lesson design process, and I'd help fill those gaps. I envisioned students talking more in class using academic vocabulary, and their teachers singing their praises! I envisioned all classrooms using the 7 Habits as a way to bring their class together and move forward in a harmonious way. And envisioned most of my colleagues asking for help as needed.
Geez was I wrong.
I don't want to say my research wasn't a success, I think it taught me there is more than what I fantasized about. Yes, I knew teachers would be over-burdoned by their workload, but I didn't take into account that I ALSO was over-burdoned.
Teaching during a pandemic hasn't been easy for everyone. Because I'm tech-savvy, I always want to share my knowledge so others may get excited about it like I do. But I have to remember that not everyone is WILLING to get excited. Because, not everyone is comfortable with technology.
Dear Dr. Redmond,
We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice many Saturdays and weeknights in GSOE Innovative Learning for whatever it takes to earn a master’s degree. But we think you’re being too realistic for making us blog about qualitative and quantitative data and how it relates to our research. You see us as we want you to see us… in the simplest terms, in the most Zoomerific definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…and an athlete…and a basket case...a princess...and a criminal…
Does that answer your question?
The Midnight Snack Club
The Brain: Sarah Magallano
*The Brain puts on blue light blocker glasses before sitting down in front of a laptop computer to analyze data.*
The research for this project includes quantitative data that will be changed, like alchemy, to quantitative data. This method was chosen because educators may not enjoy a colleague adding “one more thing” to their already overflowing plates. Also, aforementioned educators would not have to analyze their data and report, as this data pertains to their own perceptions of how their teaching practices are unfolding. This data will help answer the inquiry of research on how well students are receiving an education using Universal Design for Learning, and how well educators are receiving coaching on Universal Design for Learning. This, in turn, drives future coaching methods for the remainder of the school year.
The Princess: Erica Gysbers
Quantitative data really seemed like the only way to do my research of sushi, lipstick and pearls. As the study is about oral language, it was to be quantified in a rubric. I used the 21st century skills rubric for communication and collaboration as well as English Language Development standards with a rubric made from success criteria for the academic language associated with the study. I could not use any form of written assessment as that would be a reflection of their reading and writing skills therefore, a rubric that could be measured was the chosen method. Quantitative data answered the question of how students improved with a pre and post assessment on flip grid and utilizing in class discussions as well as question and answer.
The Jock: Erica Reeves
My research took on a hybrid of quantitative and qualitative data or mixed methods. I needed to see collaborative skills as well as language use, so I used rubrics to collect quantitative data. However, I was concerned with how students were enjoying and engaged in the activities, so I used a student journal and collected their feedback on their experiences during the activities, qualitative data. My mixed methods for data collection should allow me to get the numbers for performance during activities, but it also will record the reactions and satisfaction of the students...sort of like the jock’s experience in a sport.
In athletics, coaches and fans look at the numbers- how is the athlete performing? How many wins and losses? Were they leading in any of the quarters or halves? By how much? Lots of number crunching and analytics that give a picture of performance. However, interviewing the athlete after the sporting event gives you their reaction and satisfaction on the overall match/game. It rounds out the picture of the athlete. We see their performance and the interview gives us their experience. Which is what I hope to gain in my collection of data- a well-rounded picture of performance and satisfaction that students have during learning.
The Basketc Case: Laurie Gaynor
Data organization is a combination of Pixie Stix and Cap'n Crunch. Similar to categorical data in a qualitative sample, each denotes a dependent variable that changes due to the addition of milk. The Basket Case is in detention to determine the efficacy of shelter-in-place protocols. It has become apparent that trends amongst the five participants in this study whose names have been anonymized for this research project (The Princess, The Brain, The Jock, The Criminal, and The Basket Case). Using the data collected from the Statistical "Which Character" Personality Quiz the researcher found that participants in this study were prone to specific character flaws that determined their potential in high school. As this is an ongoing study, the study will conclude July 31, 3021. The IRB (Irresponsible Regressive Band) was on the road and has yet to approve this study.
The Criminal: Lynda Tuttle-Bergner
Data organization is measured in cigarettes, and flannels. I decided to use quantitative data for the simple reason that I am gauging how many students complete/participate in classroom activities/work. My entire paper is about trying to get students to engage and participate in classroom activities...and at this point, any classroom activities are acceptable. Quantitative data answered the research questions in the best way possible. Qualitative data would not have been beneficial because I was not trying to determine how well the students completed their assignments, or how well they participated, just “if” I could get them to participate.
Self-care seems to be the newest "hot button word" thrown around during this never-ending roller coaster of a year. My self-care consists of playing my guitars, ukuleles, and learning to play my deceased grandfather's fiddle. Gardening was once fun, but my garden is now dead, save three bell pepper plants that are in their second round of bloom this season. How are they even surviving this?! I had to rip everything else out during the Great Ash Fest 2020, and was too afraid to eat any of the tiny cucumbers and honeydew melons for fear of lye poisoning.
And as one of my favorite holidays gets trampled, it just raises up the grief I have that is all-consuming. I grieve for my recently passed grandmother, whom I cared for for many years. She was 97, and a huge part of my life since the day I was born. Her passing makes me miss my dad, my aunt, and grandfathers. I can remember, the day before my grandma was to travel alone to Texas (a trip she made yearly with my grandfather who had passed two months prior), and having a bursting radical idea pop into my head. I wanted to go with her. I couldn't imagine a summer without my grandmother's house as a place of solitude when my younger siblings created chaos. I called my grandma and asked her if she was willing to have me as her new travel companion. She agreed, as long as my dad (her son) agreed. As a 12 year old, who had already made this trip, and beyond, with my immediate family, I was hoping this was enough experience to allow me the venture. I think the thought of two younger siblings being vice-mommed by a pre-teen may have been in the forefront of my parents' minds as well, for I was granted the permission to explore the southern states with my nearly septagenarian companion with one caveat--I had to call them nightly.
We called ourselves Thelma and Louise (as that is my middle name) while I navigated her '84 white Caddilac Coup de Ville using a trusty ol' Rand McNally. I wrote in a journal, daily, about our adventures. At one point, I jokingly penned that my grandmother was flirting with the grocery store clerk in New Mexico. In another account, later that day, I wrote how we were trapped in our hotel room with no electrical power, unable to utilize the motel pool, due to a flash flood. My favorite entry has to be when we "got lost."
On our way out of Texas, and into New Mexico, we came upon some road construction that steered the Caddy away from our normal route. We found ourselves in a Native American reservation with beautiful views of the desert. We continued on, and eventually found a small greasy spoon for our lunchtime meal. It was dark inside. Along the south windowed wall was a row of dark pleather booths, some with tears. Dollar bills hung everywhere. Each one had writing on it. Some stated how much they loved the food and atmosphere, while others requested a phone call. The bar on the north wall was backlit with cheap top shelf liquors and a large barback who was ready for orders. Two locals nursing beers watched a small televsion above the barback's head and talked about the baseball game. This place looked a tad bit rougher than the Denny's restaurants we were known to frequent on this trip. And I felt very out of place.
After ordering, I used the road atlas and mapped out which directions we were to go when our meal was over. It was still an hour away from the main freeway, and my grandma had annoyance in her voice--not from me, as I had followed the map, but of the hours of time this had taken away from our daily drive toward home. "When we get back on the freeway, I'm gonna scream," she declared over the country tunes emitting from the jukebox.
After lunch, we continued along the drive, talking about what fun we had during our adventure. I sang along to the radio, and even read a chapter or two of "Onion John", as this was well before cell phones and apps, and I was an avid reader. When the conversation winded down, we rode in silence and listened to the sad tunes of heartache while admiring the desert. We were approaching the freeway and I was happy that we were back where rest stops would be plentiful.
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!" My grandma screamed from the top of her lungs. This was not a sound I had EVER heard emit from her small frame. I looked to my left at her with my heart pounding, worried I had to grab the wheel and steer us to safety. I was concerned that my grandmother was suffering a heart attack. My blood pressure rose as she continued to scream and I searched for an answer to this unusual behavior.
"Nana, are you okay?" I asked frantically.
With a twinkle in her blue eyes, in her Oklahoman accent, and without missing a beat calmly said, "I told you I was gonna scream when we got back on the freeway."
This is one memory that epitomizes my grandma. She was sneaky. She had an amazing sense of humor and loved practical jokes. She was surprisingly humble, but proud. She was admirable in her accomplishments, but always wanted her kids and grandkids, and great-grandkids to do well for themselves. She gave me the opportunity to go to college and do better than those before me.
We took this trip again when I was 15. We had too many fun days and funny stories for me to tell here. But it was always something we talked and laughed about, even in her days just before passing. I'm so grateful to have had the luxory of knowing my Nana and spending nearly every day of my life with her. She is missed.
Tuesday, we will drive up the winding roads through the blackened hills of the lake where my family was raised. We will be in separate cars due to COVID-19. My remaining immediate family members will be six feet apart wearing masks to bury Nana next to my grandfather and my aunt in the only cemetary there. My childhood home, and Nana's old home are burned to the ground within walking distance of a quarter mile away. We will sprinkle some of my dad's ashes upon his family's graves. It is the most depressing way I can think of to spend time with my family, some of whom I haven't seen in person in months.
The grief I feel, isn't just for my grandmother. I grieve shopping, which I HATE. I grieve eating at our favorite restaurants. I grieve my son playing with his friends. I grieve for my students having to sit in front of a screen for their lessons. I grieve for my once feeling of safety and sanity. I greive for all that we are losing as a country divided. Every day I mourn the life we once had. I miss the innoncence of 2019.
Through my searching for articles to support my driving question, I feel like I am searching for treasure buried deep in the depths of a long, sandy beach. Like a retired man with a metal detector, I type in my search criteria, hit the enter button, hold my breath and wait for "the beep". When it hits, I see a long list of possible treasures. But while digging through the literary sand, I find few articles to take with me.
And the sandy pit is no joke. I found a book on coaching that seemed really helpful. I began perusing the chapters, kicking the sand back and forth with my feet, hoping to find something other than a bottle cap. Which led me to the search engine's version of Netflix's "you might like this because you just watched this..." where for ten minutes I dug a hole looking for anything I found remotely interesting--whether on topic or not.
So far, I haven't found the sandy treasure guru of my topic yet. I often wonder if I'm at the wrong beach, or am I just enjoying this at my leisure? I did find a book that relates to the topic in which I am interested. It's called, Design and Deliver: Planning and Teaching Using Universal Design for Learning by Loui Lord Nelson, David Rose, and Allison Posey. This book describes what UDL is, how it can be implemented, and why. The book breaks it down into easy chunks and uses quotes from actual teachers who use it. I find the book helpful and look forward to reading more.
An old article I found during my search, led me to believe that technology equity has been on people's minds for quite some time. It's called "Computer Equity in Public Education" by Lorna J. Lacina. The article says that if students are to be tech savvy, there needs to be more computers available to them, and training too. It was written in 1983. Sadly, I cannot link the article, as the link I created for it isn't working. Another dig through the sand to find a bottle cap.
Whew! This has been an interesting school year thus far. Just when things seem to be in place, something else uproots those ideas and brings forth new...challenges.
My driving question has certainly had some changes. I realize now that I did not leave one change as it stood and accidently began reworking it. The newest version is currently my driving question and I do not have the previous question. I created a Need To Know page to sort through questions I need answering while researching. Meeting 1:2 with my teachers was by far the most helpful! With their help, I narrowed down my question. It also gave me hope for future endeavors with my question.
My conern with my research is that I won't do it correctly. Of course, that's the anxiety in my brain that I've lived with my whole life. And because I know myself, I know I'll be fine and it will all be fine. Beyond that, I'm concerned that some of my coworkers may not take my research as seriously as I do. I worry that the "buy in" will feel forced, or that my data will get messed up by an error on my part.
I know this research is not meant to be something that would drive my career down a path of research and publishing, but I do take my career and my schooling seriously. Having had a (seemingly) major mental setback recently, I can say that I am feeling better. I know that I am not the only one this school year, or 2020 in general, has spit upon. And this, as crappy as it sounds, helps.
Our school adopted the 7 Habits. And there are times when I don't take my own advice of Habit 7, "Sharpen The Saw." If I don't do Habit 7, I'm certainly not able to do Habit 3 "Put First Things First" and get my schoolwork done in a timely manner.
When I think about my driving question, I feel small. I feel insignifcant. I feel as if I'm standing at the edge of the world, looking at the expanses of the universe and all the stars and planets are merely unanswered questions. And I don't know where to begin.
I've never done official research before starting from complete scratch. This is a new experience. And with new experiences, there is often a feeling of incompetencey. One can "push back" a new idea/concept and have big feelings about the new experience. Almost as soon as I felt comfortable with my driving question for my master's degree, I soon fell into having those before mentioned big feelings.
We are in a pandemic. I am in the middle of fire country. I have family members and friends who have lost their homes. My 97 year old grandmother, who I have seen nearly every day of my life, is now on hospice. I fell today walking from my living room to my office for work, and my knee took the brunt of it. I feel like a hot mess. And my internet is unstable, kicking me out of the one place I can feel normal--teaching.
My big feelings feel HUGE.
My driving question has changed. It's...evolving? It seems suddenly so insignificant amongst the chaos around me. And yet, it isn't. My driving question was originally about equity and how I can provide social-emotional activities to promote equity in my classroom. But...this year is a little different. I am teaching 5th grade part time. And the other half of my time, I am a magnet coach for art and design. So...I'm thinking that my efforts might go into creating a driving question that includes other teachers and may benefit more students than my own.
My current driving question, "Can mentoring (coaching) teachers at a Title 1 school improve student equity?"
I'm sure this is merely a stepping stone in the long journey ahead into the vast universe of questions. But I need to remember to take it one step at a time.
Sarah Magallano teaches 5th grade. She also coaches teachers on integrating art & engineering into their lesson plans.