Thursday, July 31, 2008


I 've had a great week work wise. I was productive and encouraged. I have almost finished both of my proposals for AERA and enjoyed the collaboration a ton. I may get a chance to work with a graduate school friend who recently took a job in Georgia.

On Monday I talked with my of my grad school heroes (GSH) who is now working at UT. He is the most self aware and fun person I know. He told me that he did a Dissertation Boot Camp. He went away for 3 weeks and worked from 7 am to 7 pm 5 days a week and took his evenings and weekends off. He finished a draft. I know I can do this. My boot camp might be less intense but I will finish. Next year I will be a Ph.D.

In other news I have hired someone to come clean the house. It has freed me up in two ways...

1) the actual house work gets done by not me.
2) when the house is dirty I can wait a day or two until she comes - so she doesn't clean a clean house. Hurray for cheerios and spaghetti noodles on the floor!!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

obviously I'm not working...

as is evidenced by my last post. But at least I am not watching TV. The house is clean and my cheeks are pink from swimming... so all in all not a bad weekend. I did go out on Saturday morning to work for a few hours.

who would have thunk it?


As a 1930s wife, I am
Very Superior

Take the test!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

personality, disposition, identity, oh my!

Interjections show emotion or excitement, Hallelujah! Drat! I am frustrated! I am trying to figure out this proposal and the problem is my lack of knowledge of the literature. I am fairly certain that the term I will use is "personality" but the terms "disposition" and identity keep cropping up... only in graduate school would a person have to figure out the difference between these three terms which essentially define how a person thinks and acts and why....

so here is the dictionary....

  1. The quality or condition of being a person.
  2. The totality of qualities and traits, as of character or behavior, that are peculiar to a specific person.
  3. The pattern of collective character, behavioral, temperamental, emotional, and mental traits of a person: Though their personalities differed, they got along as friends.
  1. The state or fact of remaining the same one or ones, as under varying aspects or conditions: The identity of the fingerprints on the gun with those on file provided evidence that he was the killer.
  2. The condition of being oneself or itself, and not another: He doubted his own identity.
  3. Condition or character as to who a person or what a thing is: a case of mistaken identity.
  4. The state or fact of being the same one as described.
  5. The sense of self, providing sameness and continuity in personality over time and sometimes disturbed in mental illnesses, as schizophrenia.

  1. The predominant or prevailing tendency of one's spirits; natural mental and emotional outlook or mood; characteristic attitude: a girl with a pleasant disposition.
  2. State of mind regarding something; inclination: a disposition to gamble.
The only problem with relying on the dictionary is that in the Academic community folks like to re-invent (and invent) words for their own use.

For instance, a more accepted definition for Identity would include some notion of performance and relate to how in my identity as mother I am a different than in my identity as a graduate student. But it gets all muddy because who I am as a mother influences who I am as a scholar and vice versa. And all of that is influenced by my social position in society... white, well-educated, affluent. And my underlying beliefs ... one who follows Christ.

I can hardly figure this out for myself... is this a fool's errand for my research?

Friday, July 18, 2008

busy week

I have been hard at work on my proposal for AERA. I am working with one of my research participants to put together a proposal and I am also putting one together on my own. The hardest part for me is figuring out where the proposal belongs. AERA is divided into 10 or so division plus there are like 50 SIG (Special Interest Groups)... that means it's not a good idea to send your paper on teaching practices in high-stakes learning in elementary schools to the division on History....

in other news. I may have a new committee member. I went to a proposal session and heard this wonderful lady say, "the best dissertation is a done dissertation." It was love at first sight... well at least academic admiration. I mentioned the idea to SAM and he said it sounded like a good idea....

Today, I vow to give up my Love Boat addiction until these proposals are done. I may still watch the latest episode of Swingtown, but that is another issue

Sunday, July 13, 2008

My topic.....

I got a comment on my blog -that's right a comment from someone, not a family member or friend. She asked about my topic, I am trying to answer this question...

How do third grade teachers in a high-stakes learning environment implement quality teaching practices that equip students with the knowledge and skills to pass the state mandated Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test? Beyond success on the TAKS test, what other goals for students do teachers who provide quality instruction have and how do they facilitate those goals?

I found 3 excellent teachers (using criteria established in my proposal) and spent about a month in each of their classrooms observing them teach. I also interviewed each teacher twice, and interviewed 3 focal students in each of the classes, plus the principal at each campus. I am currently making my way through this mountain of data and trying to write something meaningful and coherent. I am using qualitative methodology to analyze each case study.

Friday, July 11, 2008


so the hot new buzz word in teacher education is "disposition" -- NCATE (the folks who say how teachers should be prepared for the classroom) in 2000 added "professional disposition" as an "explicit obligation" for teacher preparation. The idea to include moral and ethical development as part of teacher education....

Not sure what to do with this yet. I don't think this is exactly what I found in my research but I do think it gives me a place to start looking.

I just printed about 5 articles to read. I have also started thinking about what this means for teacher educators. I think this might be the most suitable niche for my work. To that end....

I have set the actual dissertation on the back burner for now. I have to get a proposal ready for AERA by the first of August. I am hoping to get two sent out - one on my own and one with my friend Heather. She reminded me that we are less than 3 weeks out from the deadline.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Come aboard we're expecting you...

No I did not watch "The Love Boat" last night... but I did think about SAM (super adviser man).

when I asked SAM to chair my committee, there was a bit of drama in our department and SAM told me that he was not going to be the Julie (the cruise director) on my dissertation Love Boat (His metaphor not mine). He told me he thought of himself as Isaac, always ready to pour me a drink and give me advice, but I have to be the Captain deciding where I am going. So today I am steering my ship, writing and thinking.

classroom management

I am organizing my thoughts and notes about my teachers... the significance.

"After analyzing the practices of each of these teachers in turn, I know turn to the connections and differences between the three cases. There were some connections that were immediate. None of these teachers had a behavior chart displayed in their classrooms and all of the teachers had a relaxed attitude about the neatness of their classrooms. Perhaps the most striking similarity was that each of the teachers relied on his/her own personal experience and personality as a connection point with students. "

I started with this paragraph.... I am not sure how to make sense of the most striking finding- the impact personality had on how these teachers were able to be successful with their students. Okay, let me back up....

I am writing this dissertation not just so I can get the heck out of here and get on with my life (Although, that is a big part of it.) but also so that others can learn from my work (and by others I mean specifically teacher educators).

So if each of these teachers relies on personality and none use a standard "behavior management plan" (think cards, points, name on board). Then how do we teach apprentice teachers to manage student behavior? How aware are young teachers of their own identity? (I use the word identity carefully because in academic circles it has a VERY specific meaning.)

I think of my own 22-year-old-first-year-teacher-self and all I wanted was for someone to tell me what to do. Give me a plan. TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!! How do we tell them to begin to call on the strength of their own personality?

No answers today, just questions....

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Love exciting and new....

I need to figure out how to make evenings more productive, I have a hard time working in the evening. Last night I found The Love Boat on CBS's website. Oh yeah, I watched an episode where Dick Van Patton, with a wicked comb-over, fell in love with Vicky Lawrence. Classic. I know you are asking, what, no Fantasy Island? I am sure my brother would be proud.

I am going to take my data, and a few articles to read and meet my friend at Starbuck's to work. I will focus on Doug this week. When I get home I will work on the interview and try to finish that today. If not, I have a sitter coming tomorrow for a few hours and I will finish it then (and I do have my evenings).

FYI- I usually prefer the local coffee joint - the Thunderbird*, but the Starbuck's* has one benefit that sometimes encourages more work - even if their coffee stinks, they DO NOT have free internet, which is good because Monday I bought this (No doubt it will help with my work in the long term.)

* notice that I strategically did not link to Starbuck's but did link to the Thunderbird - see there I did it again.

Monday, July 7, 2008

writing or not? - new blogs.

I have spent most of my work time the last few days transcribing my first interview with Doug Parker and several minutes of his teaching. I know this is a necessary part of the process, but it doesn't feel like progress and it goes so very slowly.

I also spent some time looking at blogs of others who are writing dissertations.... not really productive but, it is nice to know that I am not the only one who is struggling with the writing process. (Check out my side bar.)

I spent most of my work time today running errands and visiting the doctor. Tomorrow is a Jack Day; we start swimming lessons down at the University. Hopefully this will be fun.

Friday, July 4, 2008


My house is a mess, my guys are off canoing on Town Lake, and I am here trying to write this d--- thing. I actually said to N, "If this thing is going to get written by December I am going to have to make some sacrifices."

But on a happier note... I am going to get someone to come a clean the house a couple times a month.

Back to work.....

yeah, right, I get it.

My adviser sent me a link to a website for people who are ABD (that's All But Dissertation), they send these weekly updates to encourage folks to write ---

this little list come from a comparison of writing a dissertation to running a marathon - my favorite comparison.

To motivate yourself to persevere through the tough spots:
1. Go public.
2. Leave nothing to chance--plan in detail and carry through.
3. Put work into manageable steps or chunks.
4. Plan specific rewards to dangle in front of yourself.
5. Work with a buddy, group, or coach.

I need to work on 4 and 5. I need to find some folks I can write with on a regular basis. I am hoping that once school starts in the fall this will fall into place.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


so I finished transcribing..... I also did a bit of weeding and raked a bit.


I don't feel like writing. I have my coffee and I am at the computer, but I can't get myself to actually write.

I worked a good bit Monday morning and got about half-way through transcribing a class meeting with one of the teachers... It is slow going, as it is very difficult to hear the what the children are saying and I find myself rewinding and listening to the same few seconds over and over.

My friend Jenny just started a new blog. We started grad school together; she just finished her first year at Texas A&M- San Antonio. I will get there and when I do everyone will call me...
Dr. PhD. (yes, I know that is redundant, but I deserve it.)