Welcome to Fall!

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We are working on some Fall crafts which will be up on the wall soon.  Tomorrow, we will add our tissue paper leaves.  The students take their time and have done a great job on these!  You will find them outside our door if you happen to drop by for a visit.

IMG_0276[1]Students are continuing to make books with the theme being fall.  Two are working on a book about apple-picking and as soon as they are done and I have recorded their thoughts for a permanent record to keep for my own binder of student work, they will be sent home for you to enjoy.  I am so pleased with the interest they have shown and their ideas are amazing!

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And in case you missed these cute little racoons based on the story by Audrey Penn, here they are up on our wall.  I will provide a link to the story in case your child would like to share it with you!

Have a wonderful week!

Here’s what we’re up to…September 14-20

The children are learning so much- how many letters are in their names, the sounds letters make, how to read a dice, some key sight words, how to listen for words in a spoken sentence and so much more.  By the end of the day, everyone is tuckered out and ready to relax.

Here are a few pictures of our centers and free play areas:

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Liam and Logan playing doctor

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Mia reading books

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Anthony playing a game

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Jackson Gallant joins in on the fun every afternoon

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Quiet time

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We also celebrated International Dot Day today in class by reading Peter Reynold’s book The Dot.  We painted dots as a way to remember our inner artistic ability.  Here are some pictures of that fun event as well!

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This is Peter Reynold’s book. In his words, this book is “for anyone who has been afraid to express themselves – from a child in art class to an adult whose fear has shut down a long-held dream, Peter H. Reynolds’ book The Dot (Candlewick Press) is there to remind us all to “Make your mark, and see where it takes you.”

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Vashti’s dot

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Our dot collection drying by the window

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Painting fun!

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Kindergarten in September

Welcome parents, friends and families!

This blog is for you- to help you keep up to speed on the goings and comings of my little class.  We are very small in number, but we are going to grow together in ways that I can only imagine right now.  Thank you for entrusting you children in my care.  I hope this year is our best one yet!

At the back-to-school bar-b-q there will be time for sharing and questions.  I plan to go over our daily schedule, homework expectations as well as any `housekeeping`business that might need attending to.  There will also be time for your child to show you around.

If you have any questions, please feel free to comment on the daily blog- I receive daily email updates, so every comment will be read and responded to.  If you have more urgent concerns, please do contact me by phone at the school.

Thank you so very much for joining me on this journey!  I can`t wait to watch your child continue to grow and develop into the wonderful person they were meant to be.

Here are some pictures of the students getting off the bus on their first day of school!

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Why care matters to us all

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They were something beautiful. Her nails, that is. Bright red and perfectly painted with a strong, shiny lacquer- causing her long slender fingers to look like they belonged on a movie star. They’re what I noticed first- what I made a point of observing before anything else, when I saw her for the very last time.

She was dying, and my mother called for an esthetician to come. We often hear of doctors being called, but how many women have the bittersweet joy of being treated to a massage and manicure the day before the die? She wasn’t responding as much anymore, although her eyes were open. She could still see. She could hear. And I believe she knew what was going on around her.

But she was dying, and dying quickly.

My mother wanted her to be comfortable, but she also wanted her to be touched. To be touched is to be treated humanely. Tenderly. To be recognized as being alive, as living. When we are not touched, we begin to curl inward. We retract. My mother wanted to keep her spirit close, so she constantly held her hands. And she brought those types of people in to her bedside who were not afraid of touching. Not afraid of death.

Not afraid to care.

The esthetician massaged her arms and shoulders and she massaged her scalp- something that always brought great pleasure to my aunt when she had been able to express such. And when the young woman had finished the massage, she painted her nails in the most vivid colour she could find. Red- a colour so warm and cheery one couldn’t help but smile. It was a color that announced to the world “there is still light and colour in this life!”

Even at the eve of death.

Yes, her fingernails were something beautiful to behold. And they were the first thing I noticed when I saw her lying there peacefully in the casket. The fact that her nails were painted brought me courage. Because we are alive as long as we are living. We are human as long as there is breath. We can’t believe anything otherwise. Even those we keep locked away inside those brick-faced institutions- they are life. They are story, they are song. Their existence- a work of artistic splendor, brushstrokes painted by a master storyteller’s hands.  Stories told in myriad ways: chronicles of a life which count for something. For the life of a precious soul is beautiful and sacred, even to the very last breath.

For thirty-one long years she lived life paralyzed and motionless. Virtually silent and unexpressive. And while she lived in the various manors and hospitals she occupied, she waited. We stood by and watched this waiting process, wondering if she would ever come back to us. Wondering if she would ever be healed. I am forty years old now, but I was eight when that pick-up truck plowed into her little car, leaving her motionless. Leaving her childless, her eight-month pregnant body giving forth a babe three weeks before Christmas who was then left to die in a cold, clinical sink while the doctors worked on his mother’s brain.

And what his Mama was left with at the end of the day? A debilitating brain injury which would snuff the spark from her eye. Snatch her emotions away- and all this because of a fateful trip home on a snowy night after a long day’s work. That trip on a snow-covered road would leave her to sit and wait for the remainder of her life, leave her only able to moan out the occasional word. A few repetitious verses and phrases retained from childhood her daily mantra. She: constantly rubbing at her crusted eye, often swollen shut from irritation.  Her lifeless hands and legs a testament to her injury. No animated gestures to light up a room.  They were nearly all but gone, but for the sudden reflexive movement.

But there were times in those years when one could see it in her face- a knowing. A deeper sense. That there was more to the story than we would ever know.  The way she sometimes looked at you, as if she understood.  And in that knowing was where we found the deepest wounding – that was where proverbial knife meets flesh and gouges.  It cut to the heart.  For as she sat year after year after senseless year in that chair by the occasional window gazing outward, we all wondered.  Do thoughts of everyday miracles ever fleetingly pass through her mind?  Does she know?  Does she ever question why?  And does God care?  Is He with even her, there in the dark recesses of her mind?

It’s all I really wanted to know for sure. To know that there is true, healing beauty even in the brokenness.

This is in some measure why I think continually about care and its implications in my life.  Why I ponder care nearly every waking moment and why I cannot escape it’s relentless mantra- as a mother, as a teacher nor as a human being. My life’s goal: to care deeply. Love much. And live my life like every moment might be my last.

That we take time to give consideration and credence to the role of care in our world is necessary; essential, actually- for care is important in every milieu, every aspect and every facet of life. When people take care with us and those around us, take care with our world and the beings and living things that inhabit our earth, our world is a better place for that care that has been invested.  bell hooks (2000) in discussing the importance of caring community says “there is no better place to learn the art of loving than in community”(hooks, p. 129).  She borrows psychoanalyst Alice Miller’s term “enlightened witnesses” to describe those whom for us that have experienced unnecessary suffering in childhood (and I would assert even beyond that time frame) have a story to tell about someone whose kindness, tenderness, and concern restored their sense of hope (hooks, 2000, p. 131-132).  I believe that this story written here gives proof to an “enlightened witness” in the form of Erica the esthetician- a community member who restored my family’s hope in our deep time of grief just over two months ago, proving to me that one who was formerly a student (as we all were at some point in our lives) could transcend her classroom and become this type of enlightened witness hooks refers to in much of her work.   Although one could argue that the role of an esthetician on the eve of a sixty-eight year old woman’s death is too little too late, I know in my heart that the role this unrelated professional played in my aunt’s life was an important one. If everyone in this world could only realize- from the youngest of students in a kindergarten classroom to the eldest of men and woman in our assisted living facilities and manors: how we treat one another matters. It matters. And we never may know how our choice to care and show kindness made all the difference in the life of another.

When all is said and done, it’s not just students who value care and love and thoughtful interest.

We all do.

Why I care

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We talk a lot about white privilege, but it is a little more discomforting to broach a discussion on white poverty. Somehow it hits closer to home.

I grew up in the heart of the Annapolis Valley, a small rural farming community known for its potatoes and apple orchards. My community was aptly named Melvern Square, as it was a squared off corridor firmly anchored by three pillars: family, community and faith. My father was one of two pastors called to minister in this area, ensuring that I lived my life firmly fixed within the public’s eye- on first name basis with most everyone I’d meet.

It was an idyllic life in ways. We were poor but we got by. I remember trips to the country store- a one room building with wide wooden clapboards filling in the floor space, glass candy jars containing five cent goodies lining the back wall. When the front door was cracked even so much as an inch, an old-fashioned bell signalled both your appearance and your exit, ensuring you would never peruse the ice cream freezer or chip rack anonymously. Our house was sandwiched between the community center on the right and my father’s little brown country church on the left. Behind our property was the community pond for skating on in the winter and avoiding in the summer- as we all speculated that alligators or other forms of creepy-crawlies might live in there. Across the street was the consolidated school housing grades 1-6- a school which I never had the privilege of attending.

The school I attended was a private institution located in a neighboring community. When I entered the educational milieu, I quickly realized that my life was not what it had seemed to be. I became the “other”- teased for my different religious affiliation, tortured for my family connection, belittled for my appearance. Separated for my difference. I was disconnected in many ways. And I soon came to understand the term “white trash” and its unflattering connotations, as that is what I began to feel I was while in this school. Trash. Unloved and undesirable.

My schooling experience was thus one in which oppression was very visible. This same private school I attended later came to be exposed regarding “issues” of a very serious, abusive nature. These privately held secrets of the upper echelon came to be outed in a very visible way via news media when I was in high school. When I now see images of residential schools, it brings to mind sordid mental pictures of what that time of life was like for both me and my classmates. That experience has forever changed the way I look at education.

So then. As long as I have been a student, I have been interested in ethics of care in classrooms. As I did not have the privilege of being exposed to ethics of care in most of my formative years of schooling, I now spend my life advocating for these pedagogies of love and care along with the foundational rights that I believe all people- young and old- are worthy of receiving and deserve to experience as a basic human right. By virtue of their humanity.

One of the specific memories I have as a student took place when I was in Grade 7, attending this same school mentioned above. A young man in Grade 10, who had been having a particularly difficult time in his life, went around one day after school saying good-bye to everyone he could see in the hallway. It struck me as strange that he would seek me out, as I was quite a bit younger than him and outside his social circle. That night, as I would come to discover, he drove his car into a wooded area and shot himself in the head. This was my first exposure to suicide.

Rather than taking time to counsel us in our grief and confusion, the teachers at this school used this opportunity to shame us, telling us how this boy, and thus his classmates, were heading down the wrong path and needed to get things straightened out. It was one of the most poignant memories of my schooling. I can still hear the judgemental voice of the female teacher stating that the deceased Donnie* had obviously been in the wrong. And I will never, ever forget that mental picture of him the day before he died, his face resolute: epitomized by soft spoken words and a calm demeanor.

Although there are many layers to this story that I could pursue at length, my experiences as a student living through a deficit of care in my schooling, along with the many, many others of my classmates who echo this sentiment, has convinced me that care is the absolute number one priority of educators in the classroom. We are educating students for academic learning, yes. But I trust we are first and foremost developing caring, compassionate human beings in the form of both students and teachers who will live empathically together in an interconnected, interdependent world. As an educator, this is fundamental to my practice.

I believe that when people learn to care, their learning is enhanced and their growth is furthered. Students and teachers are all the better for the care they have cultivated, and I am not alone in holding this belief. Miller (2010) cites Nel Noddings’ work as being premiere in the encouragement of educators in fostering this care ethic. Noddings suggests that educators pursue caring as one of their main goals in schooling and education, teaching students to learn to care for themselves, others and the environment as well as to care for ideas and learning (Miller, 2010, p. 63). Noddings has laid out a very systematic, comprehensive approach to caring that entails teachers be clear and unapologetic in their goal: “the main aim of education should be to produce competent, caring, loving and lovable people” (Noddings in Miller, 2010, p.64). I can attest to this belief as there have been many, many share with me their convictions about care through my blog. I have heard from people all over the world writing in response to my viral blog on what students remember most about teachers, and they almost unanimously state the same: what students remember most about their teachers is that they care.

We are a culmination of our past and present experiences- and the breadth and depth of these same experiences will hopefully lead to a brighter, more positive future as we learn, share and grow.  Maya Angelou’s words ring clear: when we know better, we do better.  I trust that this statement will always be the truth on which my life is lived and that my legacy will always be characterized by both care and love.

Rage against the dying of the light

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We tread side-by-side at dusk, rain still shimmering on summer leaves while sun fades fast behind heavy clouds. He divulges to me the secrets we both keep hidden away through daylight hours from Little Ears, sacred documents of the heart that must be locked away. As I walk the inside track, closest to the gully that leads down to the prolific birch trees spreading helter-skelter towards the field, he tells me this. Doctors have given very little hope, very little promise.

“What about that treatment?” I ask.

“It won’t prolong his life,” the resigned response. And then he says to me, “I keep thinking of that Dylan Thomas poem:

Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rage at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

“I am resigned to the fact that the doctors know best,” he then offers uncertainly.

I cannot think of anything profound to say to that. But I think to myself: I would rage.

I would rage.

If radical pedagogy must insist that everyone’s presence is acknowledged (hooks, 1994, p. 8), then radical care vows no sacred Presence goes uncared for. Radical care upholds the individual’s right to love, compassion, empathy, concern and kindness. And when the need necessitates, the individual’s right to be cared for in radical ways.

I think of my little Sianna* of the just-finished kindergarten class from this past year. I think of the fears expressed to me by her parents and my inner vow to fight for this child. To be that advocate for her parents that they seemed to need. I remember the ways I fought for her right to be medically cared for- how I contacted the public health nurse numerous times to arrange for the appointments with an Audiologist. How I advocated for her parents’ right to a second chance at such an opportunity.

I think too of the assisted speech technology that I raced against time for- buying an i-pad for Jake* at a moment’s notice- literally. Then the race against the clock to meet a deadline with a man. A man who held the keys to open a door leading to a world of words for that same little boy, who had so few words at his disposal. I think of the sweat that broke as I ran, as I ran– just so as to obtain a program I could otherwise not afford installed on that same i-pad I had just bought: so that a little boy could somehow communicate with me. So that he could somehow find his voice therein. And I think of the tears that fell freely as I got there just in time. The sheer relief in knowing, this was really going to happen.

Radical care allows for the impossible to occur. But the challenge is first to initiate the care process, giving attention and acknowledgement to the presence of another human being. Through awareness of the people with whom we share our communities, be those groupings of a familial nature, a learning community or a neighborhood- we start by acknowledgement. And we move forward from there.

Husband and I head back, on the homestretch now. The sky is darkening and night time presses in, enveloping. But I do not go gentle into the thickening darkness.

I press on as one who sees the light.

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Dylan Thomas’s Do not go gentle into that good night

 

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Taken from this URL: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/do-not-go-gentle-good-night

Caring is political

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“Simply caring about students, while necessary, does not constitute a critical pedagogy” (Kincheloe, n.d., p. 9).

It was in my Grade 12 year that I remember most vividly being thrust out of my comfort zone and into a community of learners in a new school, of which I felt a lack of ties to, a disconnect with. It’s not typical for one to move out of province in their final year of high school after having spent the prior eleven years growing up in one area, living in one community for that totality. Leaving my community- being wrenched from my school community due to reasons beyond my control and understanding- was perhaps the single hardest thing I was forced to deal with at the dynamic age of sixteen. Young and in love. Carefree and believing I had life by the tail. But in the end, I was left without a sense of belonging in the new space I found myself living in.

For me, that move was devastating.

When I think of community, I think of people connecting to create spaces that invite dialogue. I think of people sharing, interacting, helping, listening. People exchanging. I think of people supporting and encouraging and caring and enabling. Because for me, community is that safe place in which to fall when life has been rough. It is a harbour for the storms of life. It is where we feel belonging.

It’s home.

In thinking about reaching out to others on this planet, I think of my physical home here in P.E.I. as rooted in the world community. The community around me is one to which I feel connected, linked, joined to and attached. In this way, I care about this community of which I am part. When my brother or sister in far-flung places is hurting, I feel with every fiber of my being a desire to reach out in a neighborly way to care for that being, to care for that soul. Not because I feel a sense of condescending matriarchy due to my position of privilege- but simply because of our shared humanity. Our shared community. I extend this caring to the environment and the animals and ecosystems and beyond. They are my backyard, my fields and forests, even though they are millions of miles long and far away. This world is my home. And the care I feel stems from the part of my heart that is taken up in love for these spaces and places and beings I share this community with. These members of my worldwide neighbourhood.

But it is not enough simply to care.

What is called for is critical care- in the very same ways one might find a critical care nurse offering his patients attention. In the very form that nurse attends to those people they care for. Not in ways that are patronizing, condescending or demeaning; but rather, in ways which are loving. These caregivers nurture so as to initiate change. So as to see transformation in the very lives of the ones in their care at that given moment. And when the time comes that the tables are turned- that those same nurses are in need of critical care, they would expect the same from those they call their colleagues and friends. From those they call their neighbors. Because that’s how critical care works in a shared community- we give when we can give and we receive back when we find ourselves in need.

This world is our community. We must care for this community enough to act in ways that might make this world a better place- both for ourselves and most especially for others whom we proudly call our neighbors. After all, that’s what communities are for- creating a sense of belonging for the members which inhabit them.

Friday’s Learnings…

We discussed data analysis for most of the day, and worked on coding and classifying our data from the field observation we did on July 2.  I conducted mine at the library, and since it was quite long, it was rather tedious to code.  I found myself wishing I wasn’t quite so long-winded!  All in all, it was a great experience to learn this skill and I am sure in doing my M.Ed. thesis, it will be something I will develop a proficiency in by the end of it.  Below are some notes I took on the slideshow we took in on reflection and data analysis.

Reflection and Data analysis (found in Creswell pages 183-193)

  • An opportunity to make sense of the data we’ve been collecting, identifying units of meaning
  • It is an ongoing process that involves continual reflection
  • Involves asking analytic questions and writing short memos (about your decisions or how you are defining a term in your study)
  • Data analysis involves collecting open-ended data which must be interrogated and developed from the participants’ perspectives and the answers they’ve given
  • The researcher collects the qualitative data and analyzes it for themes and perspective’s; should report 4-5 themes

Interpretation of the data- two major processes provide the means to distill the data that emerge from the ongoing processes of investigation: categorization and coding/ and key experiences

Analysis and interpretation

  • Ask analytical questions
  • Organize and prepare the data for analysis
  • Read through all the data to get a general sense of the data
  • Reflect on the meanings

Categorization and Coding

  • The major task of this procedure is to identify the significant features and elements that make up the experiences and perceptions of the people involved in the study
  • This is the process one undertakes to organize material into chunks of meaningful text
  • Coding is just making categories and themes from your data

 

Steps for general analysis- guidance for coding

Get a sense of the whole

Pick one document and then go through it.

Cluster your topics.

Abbreviate texts as codes.

Use descriptive wording.

Make a coding book so that you don’t get mixed up about what you’ve coded.

Assemble all your material into categories.

If necessary, recode other data.

Analysis

Develop how description and themes will be represented in a qualitative narrative

Making interpretation of the data means asking what were the lessons learned? What were my personal interpretations? What meaning was derived from comparison of the findings with info gleaned from literature or theorists

 

This afternoon, Leslie introduced us to a texting option for teachers and students called Remind (found online).  It is a very useful way of keeping in touch with students using their current technological fad: cellphones.  Unfortunately, none of my students have one, so I will not be using this option.  Unless I use this as a way to connect to their parents.

In the afternoon, Martha and I had the opportunity to talk about my thesis in terms of the theoretical orientation. We discussed the pros and cons of autoethnography, these being: finding voice, the transparency aspect of writing in a very personal way as well as the need to ground oneself on the theoretical literature that is out there.  We talked about my desire to do this in spite of the cautionary concerns Martha offered.  We also discussed the need for me to read up on actual autoethnographies that have been already done, those written by Bochner and Ellis being the most highly recommended.

As a way to end off the day, we shared technologies with one another that we have found useful in our classroom.  Chapter 9 in Stringer had a number of cites that were useful for Action Research.  I will be conducting a search for cites that connect back to autoethnography and hope to compile this in my digital journal.

Thursday’s Learnings and Reflections…

Mason’s article:  My take-aways

Using both quantitative and qualitative approaches as well as using a variety of different types of qualitative frameworks was encouraged but thinking about all the dimensions of a situation- in other words, expansive thinking rather than falling into the trap of narrow-mindedness was what she suggested. She encourages us to appreciate how things are inter-linked so that we are coming at things from different angles so as to consider everything that is going on in the context. We should think in terms of looser formulations-linking data and meshing data- instead of seeking to integrate methods and data. The words context and comparisons came up a lot. Qualitatively, we start to think and then extend into other dimensions of thought and interpretations. We need to constantly challenge ourselves to think outside the box methodologically. As teachers we use both quantitative and qualitative all the time to document our students growth and development. I think of the mixed-method approach as like an accordion- a whole organism that is constantly moving in and out from micro to macro and then back in again to the micro. We must be aware of our comfort zone in research and thus challenge ourselves accordingly. In the past, quantitative paradigms have traditionally held sway over the qualitative forms of inquiry so this is why it has been important to challenge our comfort levels. Qualitative researchers have had to fight to be seen as legitimate researchers, but there are still paradigm wars in that we still find ourselves in theoretical stalemates between qualitative and quantitative. I would be more comfortable with qualitative approaches than quantitative approaches, so the challenge for me is to be more open-minded.

 

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We also talked today about our experiences with surveys and what impressions have been left in our mind as a result. Procedural ethics and ethics of practice all come into play when you conduct a survey. When you do a survey online, there are preliminaries to go through as far as informed consent. ECE’s Digital Technologies in Personal and Professional Life survey conducted by UPEI was shown to us as an example. Starts out with informing survey taker of their rights as a ‘surveyee’. Also, questions about demographics are then asked. Then the bulk of the survey follows. At the end, you should always thank the person for responding. A prize at the end is always an incentive. What are the ethics of compensation? Small tokens are better than larger ones- to show appreciation for the person’ gift of time.

Points to keep in mind when developing a survey:

Keep it short (12-15 minutes)

2 types of questions: fixed responses (structured questions) – yes or no, short responses, answers that require a one word answer, allow people to offer something by providing the option of answering “other”.

Make sure you are not double-barreling your questions (ask one question at a time).

Be clear on what answers you are looking for.

Be clear on the ranges you are looking for (no overlapping on ranges).

A ranking question needs to included when applicable as a lot of info can be put into one question

Open-ended questions can be included

Tips for creating a good survey- state that its research you are doing, keep questions short and concise, make sure the questions are unbiased. When people are doing the survey, try to frame half of your questions so that a positive answer is desired; then construct half of the questions in such a way so that they are constructed in a negatively framed way so as to elicit a positive response. Helps keep people thinking and makes them not tune you out.

 

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Case Studies:

Stories from the Field

Rebecca Wisniewski Charlotte M. Murkland School Lowell, Massachusetts

Challenges with non-readers in this case study, so they created a team to look at their own practices/perspectives into the learner. They had done a lit review first then they had a bit of a division over the actual focus. Each researcher targeted something they felt was important/pertinent to their actual practice. The most powerful part of the action research was listening to their students. Findings: they needed to put supports in to place to support the students’ mother tongue first before transferring that learning to another language. The action research was invaluable. When they started trying to pick their focus, there was a bit of a breakdown which ended up being a benefit because more got done.

Stories from the Field

Julie Nora, from Roger Williams Middle School,Providence, Rhode Island

She asked: Does the explicit teaching of the NCEE standards enhance ESL student performance? She found that the action research dramatically improved performance of the students. She found it addressed the needs of her students and she documented the progress.

 

Breakfast program by Ros Beadle:

Making Good Food at Warburton School was a case study that started with four grandmothers in Warburton. They created a program that was self-sustaining which continues to involve.

Methodology in the case studies

Is it important to have a professionally trained researcher in the mix at times, as teacher lean on them for that for support?  Martha argues that this would go against the philosophy of our course in action research.

Kennedy’s article- overall problem was that gov’t services being offered weren’t meeting the needs of aboriginals in Australia due to a lack of communication.

There is a snowball effect- new topics of research came up continually from the original questions that were posed.

 

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The Problems with Interviews:

Nunkoosing’s article discussed 4 methodological and theoretical problems can occur in qualitative research.

1. Power and resistance

2. Distinguishing truth and authenticity

3. Impossibility of consent if knowing is a problem for both the interviewer and the interviewee

4. Nature and significance of stories and self

Power and resistance

The interview is the most widely used way of generating data in qualitative research and much depends on the skill of the interviewer. Interviews invite people to think and talk. Purpose of an interview is to construct stories and versions of events that can have the possibility of generating theories.

The power of the interviewer lies in his position as seeker of knowledge and the power of the interviewee lies in his position of knowledge authority. There is an interplay of power throughout the interview, between the interviewer and the interviewee- the interviewer has to get the interviewee to buy into the whole idea, agreeing or resisting the persuasion of the interviewer. The interviewer is also in apower relationship with his or her research committee/community.

There is also creative artfulness on the part of the interviewer and the interviewee calling to mind questions of deceit. And there is always risk involved when one opens themselves up to scrutiny.

Distinguishing truth and authenticity

The interviewer and interviewee collaborate to create the story- in this sense, all stories and authentic more than they are true. We corroborate the truth by adding information from other sources (such as interviewing people close to the interviewee). In an interview, people always have the right to resistance and keep some information confidential. The interviewer uses his voice to enable the interviewee to tell the stories that would otherwise remain untold. What is not revealed is just as important as what is revealed.

The Problem with Consent

Sometimes things come out in an interview that are unplanned and pose harm or duress for the interviewer and as such were not consented for in the original, preliminary consent disclosure.

The Interview and the Project of the Self

There can be political motivations and career advancements in mind when an interviewee agrees to give an interview- the interview is not a neutral product of the academy. What is the purpose being served by the interview? In an interview, self is always involved in a performance. The interviewer and the interviewee are always changed by the nature of the interview. Is what has been talked about an exact replica of what has been lived?

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I conducted an interview with Jeff Powers which I have sent to my professor as interview transcript notes.  I found that the interview was a very satisfying undertaking for me as I was able to learn more about Jeff than I would otherwise have time to know or discover.  I asked a few set questions then branched off on other probing questions as they arose in conversation.  Something I noticed in the course of the interview was that Jeff became more comfortable as time went on and revealed more to me.  I felt that the levels of trust were strengthened as the interview transpired.

Wednesday Learnings

Today, we had the chance to read the article by Guillemin and Gillam on ethics, reflexivity and important ethical moments in research.  The following two questions were posed and then answered: What is procedural ethics? What are ethics of practice?

Procedural ethics involves seeking approval from a committee or ethics board so as to conduct research involving human beings while ethics of practice involves the everyday ethical issues that arise when conducting research, issues not necessarily dealt with specifically in the codes of ethics or codes of conduct agreements.

Some important ‘take-aways’ for me were the following:

If the research is in your own classroom, you don’t need ethical approval. At a school level, you do need approval from the principal, a board of directors, a university body, etc.  As well, in terms of my thesis, I found that the term ethics of care was used to describe what happens during every interaction between a patient and their doctor, but which I translated to relate that concept to the relationship shared between the students and teacher. The following two questions came to mind: what everyday ethical issues arise during/in lived experience and during the practice of teaching and learning within the classroom? What trusts have to be in place between teacher and student for an ethic of care to be maintained?

There was also a section in this article on reflexivity and research.  Reflexivity being a process of critical reflection both on the kind of knowledge produced from research as well as regarding how that knowledge is generated. Reflexivity involves critical reflection of how the researcher constructs the knowledge as well as how the knowledge is revealed in the planning, conduct and writing up of the research. A critical researcher is able to step back and take a critical look at her role in the research process, so as to improve the quality and validity of the study while recognizing the limitations of such research. A researcher must be alert to ethical issues in research.

Also today, we did a short exercise with a partner in observational research in which we had to observe and then collect field notes which we wrote up directly afterwards.  I am including my summary of those notes here as well so as to document my first ever attempt at collecting observational field notes on a fifteen minute observation.

Spinnaker’s Landing

He saunters by with his green flower pot swinging, heavy and full. His keys jangle at his side, a full key ring of silver metal clicking and tinkling like little bells. I watch him walk over to the bed of geraniums and petunias, wind-blown and fading in the summer heat. He over-turns the pot of water so that an arch of water sprays generously on top of parched greenery. Then he turns and heads back from whence he came.

It is a windy day to say the very least. Between a blue clapboard shop and a muted pink one, the corridor acts as a wind tunnel complete with sound effects. A garbage bag ripping about at the far end adds to the dramatic effect, sounding like a miniature replica of a jet engine. Sounds abound everywhere I turn.

A man and his young apprentice work at installing a new walkway to replace the old. As the rotting structure is thrown out, it lands with a loud thud, startling me. Not long afterwards one can hear the intermittent blare of a drill as the new triangular wooden ramp is set into place. There is no hurry or rush to the labour. Everything appears to be very relaxed and easy here. The young helper sits on the porch as he waits for instruction about what next he must do. It appears as if this is a dream summer job- outdoors in the warm, fresh air.  What I wouldn’t give right now for that luxury!

The wind over-powers many of the more subtle sounds to be heard, but if one leans in close, they might hear the soft rustle of two pinwheel wind-catchers, brightly coloured and spinning in the breeze. The easy banter of tourists as they amble the boardwalk, walking in and out of shops as if they have not a care in the world- this is the sound of summer. Wind-chimes tinkle musically while nearby flags flap frantically as if signalling an S.O.S.  Over head, a plane flies by- while in the water, a Coast Guard employee sprays off his boat with a hose in preparations for some kind of journey or another. Waves lap the shore, slapping the side of the boat while a lone walker passes by.

Feet also are heard slapping the walkway.  Sandals which make a ‘suck, suck’ noise are sported on another person’s feet. Feet are such curious things. Feet in shoes, in sandals, in boots, in sneakers. What choices are behind the decision to choose which footwear?

A door closes with a slam even while the open warmth of friends conversing on the deck house patio adds background noise to the sights and sounds. I am drawn to a little squeaking noise in a narrow corridor between two other buildings, a sound resembling the squeak of a bird. Might I find a nest- should I be so fortunate? I follow my ears but am disappointed to find that it is only a door fastened shut with a lock and hook. As the wind thrusts and pulls it in repetitive motion, the lock rubs against its metal casing.  Sounding for all the world like the squeak of a baby bird.

Smells are ready at hand as well. The closer one moves to the far corner, the better to catch the fragrant whiff of frying food. And the air smells like summer- of salt water and humidity.

So much to see, from the grey clapboard structure that is the complex to the individual buildings, the shops and restaurants. To the displays, the signage, the products for sale. Monkey and flower bobble heads are carefully displayed at five dollars per item. The colourful paint on each building draws the eye and catches the attention of shoppers ambling by while the dirty water that flows below the large deck is a detractor if one should decide to take note. A lone pencil and white straw float listlessly along the rocks where water slaps the shore. A single oyster shell sits on the rocks looking rather lonely and forgotten.

Yet in spite of the odd piece of garbage, the walkways and main gathering area are clean and inviting.  It feels relaxed here. It is an easy place to be. And the wind seems to carry that sentiment as it moves me along from place to place, almost overpowering at times.

I accidentally knock an earring off from my ear and it falls to the board below, only to tumble out of my grasp and then through a crack in between two boards. I stick the second one in my pant pocket as I walk toward a group of people chatting on the benches at the center of the theatre. They are asking questions of my partner, initiated by a T-shirt she is wearing. I wait for the conversation to end before I head back to the class, bidding a farewell to the couple who has struck up the conversation.

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Something I would like to note about the two opportunities I had today to conduct observational research.  Although we were advised to NOT write down notes while we were observing, I did find it helpful during the above observation to have my phone out so as to do two things: take notes via texting and also so as to appear unobtrusive.  I find if you have a phone out, no one looks at you twice.  No one would have ever known I was there collecting data.  However, in the afternoon when I went to the library to observe, I did not use my phone.  I tried to appear as though I were a patron.  However, without an aid (i.e. my phone), I feel I attracted more attention at the library than I did at Spinnaker’s Landing.  It was almost as if I stood out.  I almost felt like I was “stalking” the people I was observing, whereas with the phone, no one suspected anything.  So, while in the past a paper and pen or a computer might have signaled that you were a researcher, one’s phone just seems to make you blend in more in today’s context.