Saturday, March 31, 2012

EDLD 5301 Reflections


During EDLD 5301, I have learned valuable information pertaining to the beginning steps to performing an action research project. This course has helped me recognize the difference between traditional research and action inquiry. I understand the importance of continuous evaluation and revision. I know this is going to be a long process, but it feels like a way to actually make a mark on the world.  To play a role in making a positive change in education is the reason why I became a teacher in the first place. Action research provides an avenue for reaching others and improving learning for all students.
I enjoyed the interviews from week two, especially Dr. Kirk Lewis’s views on action research and how to make it relevant and practical. The strategies for sustaining improvement from week four interested me and I have already researched ways to include the Delphi method and the Nominal Group Technique into my data collection. The CARE model described in the Harris text provides a way to “examine improvement with a focus on sustainability” (Harris, Edmonson & Combs, 2010, p. 97). I plan to use all of these methods to improve the quality of my research.
The discussion boards and blog entries in this course were very beneficial because it allowed us to communicate with each other and provide feedback on our topics and ideas. This provided some comfort that others were having the same concerns and obstacles.
I feel confident that I will be able to aid my campus and district by providing answers to questions that have challenged administrators and hindered the growth of technology in the classroom. Even though I still have many questions, I am certain that I have enough insight to begin data collection.
I believe that action research should be a component of lifelong learning and professional development. I look forward to working with administration, staff, and my site supervisor during the entire process. I know I will help others by completing this project and providing quality solutions and encouraging the utilization of effective strategies for professional development focused on the implementation of technology resources in the classroom.

Harris, S., Edmonson, S., & Combs, J. (2010). Examining what we do to improve our schools: 8 steps from analysis to action. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Draft Action Research Plan


Action Research Plan
Goal: What are the most effective strategies for providing teachers/staff with the highest-quality training and professional development centered on the integration of technology into the classroom?
Action Steps(s):
Person(s) Responsible:
Timeline: Start/End
Needed Resources
Evaluation


Observe various trainings on both campus and district levels



Tanya Henslee


March 2012-February 2013


Observation Template


Record observations/self reflection


Survey and interview facilitators, trainees, and administrators on their experiences, difference of perceived and actual outcomes, and ideas for improvement.




Tanya Henslee



March 2012- February 2013



Facilitator, Trainee, and Administrator Surveys



Data analysis, report findings to Site Mentor


Compile a list of suggested effective strategies to improve current technology training.





Tanya Henslee
Wendy Jones



March 2012-February 2013


Internet Research, Literature, Previous Surveys


Administrators/Site Mentor consensus based on evaluation of surveys, observations, interviews, etc.



Demonstrate effective strategies during professional development/staff trainings.




Tanya Henslee
Wendy Jones


November 2012-March 2013


Presentations


Observation of trainee participation and understanding of topic.

Observe integration of technology (introduced in training) into the classroom before and after implementation of effective strategies.




Tanya Henslee

March 2012-April 2013

Classroom Observation Template

Teacher interview/classroom observation

Compare the utilization of technology with improved training strategies as opposed to previous strategies.




Tanya Henslee



March-April 2013


Continuous survey comparisons


Observations/Data analysis

Complete action research plan


Tanya Henslee

February-May 2013

Rubric, plan requirements

Completion of program

Friday, March 9, 2012

3...2...1...ACTION!


It’s week two of 5301 and the black cloud looming over my head (a.k.a. Action Research Project) is beginning to turn a light shade of grey. Now, that’s not to say it isn’t ready to burst at any second, but I have a good feeling that it will remain intact, but applying just the right amount of pressure. All exaggeration aside, I have digested a considerable amount of information over the development and beginning stages of action research.

Watching Dr. Kirk Lewis’s interview made the most impact on my understanding of action research. He conveyed the importance of conducting action research on a topic of true interest and how that will ultimately provide a more focused outcome and will prove to be most beneficial to students. I really learned a lot about his tactics and his views on the importance of action research. His strategy of evaluating data and research from various districts or campuses and learning from the ways they have addressed problem areas is a great way to begin assessing your school’s areas of difficulty. Just as Dr. Arterbury and Dr. Jenkins expressed in their interview, knowing what is practical for your students or teachers and being invested in your action research project will ensure a more focused outcome and a project that is beneficial for advancing student achievement.

After considering many topics with my site mentor including using iPads in the classrooms, evaluating discipline procedures, and improving student-teacher-parent communication, we decided to focus on evaluating the effectiveness of professional development and teacher training. I struggled with finding an action research project that I would have the opportunity to really spend the amount of time necessary to research and comprehensively evaluate. Unfortunately, I am not teaching at a school this year because we moved at the beginning of the school year for my husband's job. After seeing the limited opportunities for teaching positions in my certification area, I have begun exploring other options. I thought that focusing more on technology-centered training, which is something I thoroughly enjoy and currently do part-time, I would have a better chance of really utilizing my research in the event that I cannot secure a teaching position next year.


            I plan to attend many trainings and faculty/teaming meetings in order to observe the overall structure vs. effectiveness of the meetings. I plan to research recent findings and other literature to determine how to present material in the best and most beneficial way possible. To teachers, time is everything. It is scarce and precious. In an interview for the New York Times, Barbara Stein, senior policy analyst for education technology issues for the National Education Association, said "The greatest indicator of technology improving student achievement depends on the degree to which the teachers can use it" (“More technology training,” 2000). I completely agree. I plan to prove that cooperative, ongoing training focused on implementation in the classroom is the best approach for teachers to utilize technology and relay these learning experiences to make certain their students are receiving the highest-quality education possible.
 
More technology training for teachers. (2000, November 22). The New York Times. Retrieved from    http://nytimes.com/2000/11/22/technology/22EDUCATION.html

Friday, March 2, 2012

Blogging for Educational Leaders


I have always been one to keep a journal. The fascination with recording my own thoughts began in middle school. It was actually spurred by a beloved English teacher who I admired greatly. She required us to journal for the first ten minutes of every class period. I must have filled a dozen journals that year. Granted, these weren’t profound or intellectual and usually revolved around middle school drama such as the day a girl bought the exact same sweater that I had, they still hold a record of my life, no matter how trivial the words on the page may be. I still love to know that they are tucked away in the back of a closet with the rest of my sporadic journaling. As an adult, I appreciate that my teacher made me write and reflect on my own thoughts. I believe that journaling is a great way to understand your values, your concerns, and your goals.

The 21st century version of journaling, or blogging, is a fantastic for educational leaders to collaborate with one another and discuss current educational issues and action research. As administrators reflect on their own professional goals and experiences, they discover ways to challenge their own thinking and develop interesting and engaging ideas that provide springboards of thought for other educators. Being able to share ideas with other administrators or teachers on a global level is incomparable. Using blogs to connect with people in a personal way can promote a valuable line of communication and interaction between the administrator, teachers, parents, students, and surrounding communities.  Blogs are a great tool to promote learning and collaboration.

Utilizing Action Research

In order for administrators to fully understand their faculty members and students’ needs, they must evaluate the need for change and improvement. By conducting administrative inquiry or action research, administrators can raise questions and generate knowledge in order to improve both the education and training of their staff and the continued success of their students. Action research allows the administrator to become the “head learner” of their school through continued professional development and routine inquiry so that they may pass that same knowledge onto their teachers. By posing questions, collecting data, analyzing the data, and making necessary changes based on the findings, administrators provide effective problem-solving skills and provide the basis for school improvement. This can lead to better choices by administration based on teacher-centered and learner-centered research results.

Conducting action research is beneficial because it not only shows teachers that their administrators are actively seeking effective and productive solutions to current problems, they are also including the teachers themselves in the process. Action research conducted by administrators can evaluate and remedy problems that exist in almost every school or district. Such problem areas include integration of technology, scheduling, discipline, faculty collaboration, standardized testing and evaluation, and professional development training. Whether we participate in ongoing education by enrolling in university coursework, attending administrative team meetings, utilizing leadership teams within a school, or building professional learning communities, principals understand that collaboration is vital to the success of action based research and demonstrate the need for professional development.

Administrative inquiry allows staff and administration to collaborate freely and gives the “practitioners” a role in implementing change that will ultimately result in school improvement. As administrators develop the mindset that action research should be a constant practice, they open themselves up to so many opportunities that will enhance their leadership skills and effectiveness with implementing changes and producing positive results.