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.