Monday, March 26, 2012

Final Session

Tonight was our last Family Engagement Seminar.  Although our sessions went quickly I have learned a lot about what Family Engagement means to beginning teachers and how to share resources, facilitate conversations - and I think I've planted a couple of seeds with these teachers.  I am excited as a practitioner and colleague to see where they might go with some of their new knowledge.

It is now time for me to pull all the research together - and begin to write again...

Monday, March 12, 2012

Reflecting on Research

This will surprise many people in my life but I have thoroughly enjoyed the research phase of my dissertation.  I have learned a lot in these short months from a talented and motivated group of beginning teachers.  In retrospect and although not possible because of the dissertation protocol I wish I had of started with them last August.  My research would be far more rich and encompassing of the many tenets of family engagement.  These teachers have gotten a strong introduction to family engagement but I know as I wrap up our last session later this month they will not have gotten everything I'd planned.  With that I know what I will incorporate in BTSA next year and that is really exciting!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Readying for our Second Seminar...

I just sent out an email to the research participants asking them what is the one or two things they want to talk about or know about Monday.  We've only met once, but I sent them home with one resource and I'm hoping someone has tried out something and we can use their experience to delve deeper into family engagement.

I have pulled so many materials I think I could keep them there all night! 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Like-minded Colleagues

I spent the day at a CDE conference.  There were some pieces that I took away - specifically on Common Core and how we can support new teachers in engaging in these new standards.  BUT the best part of the day was running into a committee member.  I think I have mentioned how great my Chair is - but I have an equally as distinguished committee.  I feel fortunate that she was willing to serve on my committee - talking to her today not only encouraged me on my journey, it also got me motivated to do more for my research participants!  I am fortunate that I have surrounded myself with colleauges who are as passionate about the work I am studying as I am - they continually ask me hard questions that push my thinking.  LOVE IT!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Labor of Love

I love my research.  I feel fortunate that I found a topic that I am SO passionate about - both as an educator and a parent of two school-aged children.

I have found seven teachers who are willing to share this journey with me.  This week I asked them to reflect on: What has changed or how are you thinking differently about engaging families since our last session?  The reality is that these seven teachers are highly motivated and the feedback I am receiving represents a very engaged group of educators.  The fact that they are participating in my research demonstrates their commitment to improve their own knowledge and skills.

I already received my first reflection from one of the teachers.  Big smile.  I asked my chair last week if I should be having this much fun... he responded that he "really pushes doctoral students to find something they care about studying, otherwise it just becomes a task that needs to be completed".  

It's a labor of LOVE... and I guess on St. Valentine's Day I'll leave it at that!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Participant Feedback

I purposely waited until after I had reflected on how last night's Seminar went to read over the beginning teachers reactions.  To evaluate feedback of each Seminar I am using Guskey's level of evaluating professional development.  The questions require participants to move quickly from "I feel" (Participants Reactions) to "How I will use..." which I thought would be helpful for beginning teachers to think about.  (Level 4: Participants Use of New Knowledge and Level 5: Student Learning Outcomes will be asked before the 2nd Session.)

Level 1: Participants Reactions
Were the activities presented tonight meaningful?

Level 2: Participants Learning
List one or two things you will take from tonight's training that you will try implementing with families.

Level 3: Organization Support & Change
How could you share something from tonight's training at your school site?

The beginning teachers feedback was really strong - not specifically because it was positive but because it provided what they liked about the 60 minute session.  They seemed to really enjoy the article (Ruby Payne) and the resources provided (Dr. Joni Samples book).  And one of the most reoccuring themes was "having time to talk about how to engage families".  What I know about teacher professional development is that we are so pushed for time - that it seems like a luxury to really talk about their own practice.  I will be sure to include that in each session!

Ultimately, the "best" pieces from these sessions will create modules that can be incorporated in beginning teacher training.

Monday, February 6, 2012

First Session

What a GREAT afternoon!  Five beginning teachers just left our first session!  It was terrific and I felt like we had a lot of "ah has" during our time together.  We read an article from Ruby Payne - and talked about strategies that we could use during the next couple of weeks to engage families.  I also gave each of the teachers a copy of The Parent Playbooks by Joni Samples - we will be using this book for the next few months as a resource and tool.  They were excited --- and the fact that the book identifies the common core standards with each activity is outstanding!  So excited to read their weekly reflections as they reflect on how they are engaging families.  Good things to come... I'll post more after I've read their reflections.