I enjoyed researching and working on this case study. One of the most challenging, yet interesting parts of my research was the required emphasis on student strengths. I found it challenging to not allow myself to focus on a "problem" that the student appeared to be having. This felt really against the grain for me. I feel like I've been trained to look for problems and come up with solutions. It was hard not to look for deficiencies and immediately attempt to find "solutions." The research for this case study was much more like a puzzle with lots of pieces that didn't appear to fit together at first sight. Some pieces seemed too big or misshapen. I'm used to dumping all of the puzzle pieces on the floor and being able to quickly fit them together. I'm used to forming quick conclusions about people and about students. I think this has become the norm within the world of education, a norm born out of a lack of time and training. It's also a culturally accepted norm. Our sloppy thinking allows for snap judgements that go unquestioned. I don't think I can fully explain how frequently I make judgements and assumptions based on a single observation.Stepping outside of this deeply engrained habit was one of the most challenging, yet revelatory assignments I have yet to receive throughout my educational career. The process of forcing myself to choose a more critical lens made me a more conscientious and thoughtful teacher. It has also made me a more conscientious and thoughtful learner. It's like a form of mind control, exercise for the brain. I remember one night in class where I was writing my observations on the whiteboard and immediately jumping to conclusions about these observations. It took a few minutes for me to realize that I needed to step back and analyze the data, that I still was skipping this step. I needed to ask more questions. I was able to realize this without being told to do so. Dr. Horwitz was observing and she asked me why I decided to go back and add more questions and analysis. I told her that "smart people ask questions." She immediately said "yes, and good researchers ask questions."Through these struggles I learned how to be a better researcher and how to ask better questions. I learned that I don't always have the answer (even if I think I do). Answers and conclusions take time. I learned that I must give everything (and everyone) time to truly be revealed. Wisdom is not born out of snap judgements, but out of patience and tenacity. This is a never ending lesson for me, one that I will need to very conscientiously go back to. It's kind of like forming a new habit. I'm on my way, but there is always more work to be done.
I couldn't agree more with every bit of what you wrote, Brittany. It was like a mind exercise; like forcing myself to step back and observe and take time to think. In a quick-paced class in a quick-paced day in a quick-paced society, that's so hard to do. You named it perfectly... patience and careful observation and analysis led me to reconsider my pedagogy with respect to teaching. And like you write, we need to conscientiously work to do this, especially now that we were able to see results from just one student. The entire case study was a thought-provoking exercise from which I learned how to observe, how to learn, and ultimately, how my students learn.
Keith ColwellWhat roadblocks did you hit in your research?I feel that I collected a lot of information however; there is information that I cannot collect because of HIPPA laws that protect students privacy regarding obtaining health information. I have the parents permission to do the case study however; I feel uncomfortable with pursuing this kind of information. I have read about the symptoms the student has described and the worst case scenario is that she has some sort of cancer. The student could simply have an anxiety that causes the student to have sores in her mouth. There could be a lot of reasons for these kinds of symptoms.There was also a problem obtaining the student information from her previous school. It took two months for our school to receive the information. This information was very important in order to provide her with the right kind of support and interventions. Once we tested the student on reading and math we determined her needs and provided her support with reading. The absentee data that was obtained from her previous school was received late as well. We soon realized that the student had an absentee problem that warranted a need for more information related to her health. How did you work through these roadblocks?My main goal of this exercise is to determine how students learn and how to support them. I decided to focus on the student being ready to learn and how the school can provide the student support in and out of the classroom to ensure that she is successful. There is a real opportunity here to support her learning even when she is out school. All the students are using Chromebooks and therefore; she has a real opportunity to reach out to her teachers to ensure that she is learning when she is absent from school It is important to teach the students how to self advocate for themselves and the Chromebooks provide an excellent communication link between the teacher and the student. The absentee data is important because it identifies a need to ask further questions in order to provide the right support. What did you learn from these roadblocks?It is very important to obtain school records from the student's previous school as quickly as possible. While collecting data I realized how often students switch schools. One of the reasons that I did not realize was that families from lower socio economic background change schools often because their living conditions are not acceptable. When I interviewed the sister of my case study she indicated that she moved multiple times in the last four years. The sister indicated that her mother promised her that they would not move again. As a sidebar to this case study, I intend on creating a plan to support students outside the school to include active communication, video support, and teachers contacting students who are absent for more than one day.We have had plans through the guidance department however; we need to reevaluate these plans and use technology to create more viable solutions.
What roadblocks did you hit in your research?The first major roadblock that I hit in my research was figuring out how to interpret the data that I had in front of me. I never thought about how much information can be gained from some of the most simple things. For example, observing a student in the cafeteria, or in another class was eye-opening for me. I had never thought much about how difference a student can act with another teacher until I began my research. Another roadblock that I hit was trying determine the overall direction of my research, because I knew that my student did well in my class, so my focus had to be a little bit bigger than performance in my class. How did you work through these roadblocks?I worked through the roadblocks with the help and support of my classmates, and by being shown how to interpret the data that I was collecting. For example, Dr. Horwitz helped me to analyze the comments that were on a progress report in a way that I had not thought of doing before. I also think that my student helped me to work through the roadblocks. By spending more time focused on one student I was able to think about characteristics and tendencies in a different and deeper way. What did you learn from these roadblocks?I learned that each student is a unique puzzle that has an undetermined number of pieces. I thought that I had figured out the "answer" to helping my student, but the reality is, I just scratched the surface. I learned that thinking about each student individually, each day, is hard work. In fact, it is exhausting, but it is a beautiful exhaustion.
What roadblocks did you hit in your research?The biggest roadblock that I hit was not thoroughly analyzing my data.I was too quick to make judgements and conclusions without really asking enough questions. I had a good amount of information on my student but I was not looking at it from different angles. I wanted to control my results.How did you work through those roadblocks?Dr Horwitz helped me see how I was not treating my data with fidelity. The times that we spent at the whiteboard with members of the cohort was very helpful. It was helpful to hear the perspective of my peers when they were looking at my data. The questions that they asked in turn made my ask more questions.What did you learn from these roadblocks?I learned that questions have layers. I have learned that I must be more patient when I am doing research and not to feel that I have to have the answers right away. Things can be messy for a while. I have begun to apply what I have learned to my other students. I hope that I have learned to be a better learner. Hopefully I will become a better teacher.
My major roadblock was that sometime in early November, I thought that I didn't have enough pertinent information about my case study to really have a "study." I lost focus of my student's crisis, and I subsequently overlooked some of the "cries for help" she was sending me as well as her relationships with teachers in other classes. I didn't consider things like her learning with respect to her gender, her family, her socioeconomic status, her being the first member of her family to graduate from high school... it goes on and on. In my concern that I didn't have enough, I ended up writing off this incredible human being as being "all fixed." In reality, I had barely spent any time analyzing how she defines herself as a learner and how she has been defined as a learner by her teachers. It was a huge roadblock that I fortunately overcame one night as a result of a brainstorming session on the white board in our class with #TheCohort.I worked through the roadblock not only in class that night, but also through the process of writing my paper and uncovering more and more fascinating quotes from my case study that tied in with something I had heard or read during this past semester. I found this to be one of the most gratifying experiences of this challenge; ultimately, I was able to find meaning in the mess.I learned that I almost did something that was completely contrary to the point of this case study: I considered abandoning my candidate because she seemed too academically successful. I nearly wrote off this amazing young woman because in her first term of high school she got an outstanding report card. I realized that my case study was so much more than just her grades on paper; there was a story that I needed to and am so grateful for uncovering. Working with this student helped me to be a better teacher to all of my students. Some of the strategies I used with her were ideas I applied in all of my classes, and the outcomes were incredible. Getting to know how my case study learns was an incredible wake-up call that not all students are like me; I cannot assume anything about them and I need to work each and every day to make sure they aren't invisible. The process has opened my eyes to the fact that observation is ongoing and ever-changing, and I need to be better at observing and learning from my students from now on.
What roadblocks did you hit in your research?At first it was simply difficult picking a student to study. When I finally decided who to do the study on I was able to collect data using the teacher journal, but I was not sure what direction to take with the information that I was collecting. Ultimately, I think that the hardest thing for me to do with regard to this type of research was to break out of the habit to try and label things. Having a background in science made that difficult. I wanted so badly to come up with a hypothesis and find the data to either support it or disprove it.How did you work through these roadblocks?The work we did in class and the pep talks from Julie really helped move me along. Also, reminding myself to let the data tell me what it wanted to say was a mantra of sorts.What did you learn from these roadblocks?I learned that I had to let myself give into the idea that perhaps I wasn't going to change the world with my first shot at a case study. I learned to let the data drive the study and not the other way around.Gabe