Monday, June 30, 2008


so.. In thinking about finishing chapter 4 by the end of July, I realize that I need to have a solid teacher profile done each week. I, then get a week at the end to tie the chapter together.... Yikes that is big....

so here are some goals--
  1. transcribe both interviews with all three teachers
  2. watch all video at least once
  3. listen to all audio- including student interviews.
  4. read all data once (twice if I have time)
I know these goals are ambitious but... December is looming.


I have started what is probably one of the two most difficult chapters. Findings are what exactly I saw when I was in the classrooms..... the other chapter, Significance, is where I explain why my findings matter. As CPB says, "the 'so what' part". As a graduate student, this is the chapter (or section) you read first.

So here is the introduction to my findings. I am still playing with how to introduce each of the three teachers (and no doubt CPB will have much to say about it) but this is what they call "a sh-tty first draft" - a necessary part of writing...

I entered each of these three classrooms trying hard to set expectations aside. I had been warned on several occasions to observe and record what I saw and not make judgments. This of course was a difficult task. In his work, Blink, Gladwell (2005) wrote about experts “knowing before they know”. Shortly after entering each of the three classrooms, “I knew” that these teachers would be excellent sources of information; they were practitioners of quality teaching. It took a great deal of additional time to figure out why I knew this and which practices in particular were beneficial and which others not so. At times, this knowing made my work more difficult and at others it was most helpful.

In the next part I give specifics about each of the three teachers.

yeah, so that is what I have so far.... no doubt Andy will say that I shouldn't reference pop-culture in my scholarly writing so but it is just such a perfect fit for what I felt/experienced when I first began data collection.

BTW- if you haven't read Blink, it is worth picking up -even if you only read the first and last chapters.

Friday, June 27, 2008

here is my best draft....

This is the proposal that I just sent off for the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators (NAECTE). Don't tell me if you see any typos. I will know by the end of the summer if it gets accepted. My next proposal will be for AERA (American Educational Research Association).

Title of Presentation: “Every child deserves a good teacher but some children deserve more”: a case study of three third grade teachers in standards-based learning environments

Abstract: The primary grades are an important part of a child’s development. Early educators help children master academic skills; in addition they help children work together, care for themselves and others, continue to enjoy learning and maintain their natural curiosity (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997). Teaching is contextually bound; children with unique needs, strengths, and backgrounds come to schools that have a variety of resources and responsibilities for diverse communities. This context has been further complicated by recently enacted standards-based education reforms that require states to test all students in grades three through eight annually in math and reading (U.S. Department of Education, 2002). Early childhood teachers, particularly those who work in public elementary schools, are faced with a difficult dilemma: preparing young children to be successful on standard-based education reform measures while also helping them develop the skills that will help them thrive in life. Some states (such as Texas) add to this pressure by retaining children in third grade who don’t pass their state's mandated test.

This presentation allows teachers educators to gain insight into the practices of elementary school teachers who engage in high-quality developmentally appropriate instructional in the current standards-based, data-driven context. It presents findings from a qualitative case study that examined the quality teaching practices of teachers who helped students to succeed on their state's mandated third grade test while employing instructional strategies that helped students develop a deep love of learning. For instance, these teachers enjoyed their days with students by reading literature for pleasure, joking, hugging, and asking about their time outside of school. Instructionally, they possessed both deep pedagogical knowledge and a desire to see each child succeed, and they enacted this desire by challenging each child academically everyday. In short, the findings from this study provide teacher educators with a deeper understanding of the diverse context in which their students will teach, and effective teaching strategies that can be used to prepare their students to be successful in today’s performance driven schools.

Benefits to NAECTE: Understanding the reality confronting teacher education students as they enter the profession is necessary for early childhood teacher educators to provide their students with the resources they need to succeed within it. Pre-service teachers often enter standards-based classrooms that stand in stark contrast to the best practices they have learned at the university. Providing students with experiences in exemplary classrooms will help them utilize appropriate teaching practice rather than seeing them as an unrealistic ideal. By sharing the strategies the case study teachers used, this study allows early childhood teacher educators to tap into the classrooms of three teachers who faced the pressures of standards-based reforms and embraced high-quality developmentally appropriate teaching practices. This presentation highlights how these three teachers used the resources they had available to them both internally and on their campuses to help students succeed in multiple areas. This analysis allows early childhood teacher educators to benefit from their successes in the classroom and present strategies that teacher educators need to consider sharing with their students.


I put together a much improved proposal for NAECTE (let's talk about too many letters.). I sent it to the super adviser man (SAM) and he sent it back bathed in red, oh well back to the drawing board. It is better and I sent it back to him this morning. He also sent me a copy of his proposal - for my feedback. I think though it was to help me get an idea about mine, oh well. I will take the help where I can get it.

We met earlier in the week and it was good. I made a time line for finishing this dissertation. I will defend it the first week in December that is right in just 5 months. I have made what I hope is an ambitious but realistic time line.

He also confirmed what I was thinking, he told me chapter 1 is too long and looks like I don't want to cut anything out. I told him my dress metaphor - he nodded politely and told me to get cutting ;)

here it is....

August 4 - Draft of chapter 4 to SAM
September 1 - Draft of chapter 5 to SAM
September 29 - Draft of 1,2 &3 to SAM
November 3 - Dissertation to SAM
November 17 -finished dissertation to committee.

This gives me the month of October to work on revisions. hopefully I will be doing some along the way. Chapter 1 is looking good already and think that with a bit more tweaking it will be finished soon. I sent it (with comments from SAM) to my friend who finished her diss. a year ago. Hopefully I will here back from her soon.

Today I will 'analyze data' that is read over my notes, field notes from one of my teachers.
Mr. Douglas Parker (FYI - Douglas -my dad; Parker - fifth grade teacher).

I have to say, I love Mr. Parker he is loud, boisterous and outspoken. He made me laugh out loud several times while I was in his classroom. His classroom was a mess, but he seemed to know right where everything was.

Monday, June 23, 2008

back to work

I have sent a draft of chapters one and two to my adviser. I also sent a draft of a proposal, which he sent back -"you can do better than this" and "when you rewrite this... notice I didn't say edit"

Yeah, it has been one of those semesters. I know that I will finish this thing. I know it will be good when it is done. Right now I will offer a metaphor for my work... I have a beautiful piece of material - think a rich blue velvet and I know that it is going to make me something lovely to wear - but I am not sure/ready? to cut up the material and start sewing.... okay so let's go with that metaphor... is it that I don't know what I want to make or that I am afraid that by committing to one path I am deciding against another after all if I decide to make a dress then I can't make a cape (although I am not sure I would be happy with either one.) so today as I will attempt a new proposal and start to cut apart my material. It is hard to make decisions sometimes.