Monday, September 17, 2012

Well, I'll tell you, this has been the journey of a lifetime. My son and my mother just want me to finish this darn thing. Everyone seems to just want me to write the darn thing and then find myself. I seem to be determined to write something significant, both to me and the people involved. So, it seems that I will be interviewing some of my students. Particularly the ones that graduated last year that were from Bloomfield. And I am beginning to know that this is a book. And I am beginning to want to add on West Orange, but perhaps after the dissertation. I cannot go through any more IRB processing. But the story becomes more interesting every day. I am feeling the end. It is in sight. Perhaps another year or so and I be ready to wrap this up.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I have both a theoretical framework AND a conceptual framework. This seems strange, but I took them to mean different things because a theory is very different in my world than a concept. Concept defined:
a general notion or idea; conception.
an idea of something formed by mentally combining all its characteristics or particulars; a construct.
a directly conceived  or intuited object of thought.
Theory defined:
a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena: Einstein's theory of relativity. principle, law, doctrine.
a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural and subject to experimentation, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact. idea, notion hypothesis, postulate. practice, verification, corroboration, substantiation.
With these definitions in mind, my conceptual framework consists of some very good ideas that I have more or less combine to construct an overarching theme that contextualizes my research. My theoretical framework is based on well-tested ideas in the field that I am contributing to.  Maybe is isn't necessary to make that distinction.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

I think this may have been one of the most difficult years of my life. It was just one financial struggle after the next. The school I have been teaching at has spiraled slowly into complete chaos. Sometimes I feel like the only person that still has any hope left. Needless to say, I have not made much progress in the dissertation. I tried to take a few courses in ethnomusicology, just to feed my needs as a scholar, but even that turned out to be a disaster. I just haven't had the fortitude. And yet, I remain full of hope. Anthony Howell called me some weeks ago to invite me to help open a new school! The Eagle Academy of Newark! I pray that all goes well and that we will see that victorious event take place in September! Bruce Bukiet, who hopes to publish with me soon, has encouraged me to use his spare office and focus on my writing. I am taking him up on his offer. Good friends in academia are so very important. Here is the outline for my dissertation, with DEADLINES! Hooray! Note to self: It is much too aggressive, but I want to at least try to get this mostly written over the summer. Here we go:

  • Two more interviews with the three participating teachers about how they view themselves and whether "putting themselves under a microscope" had any affect on their discursive exchanges with students. Due date: May 31, 2012
  • Completion of analytical memos and identification of critical events: June 15, 2012.
  • Completion of coding: June 30, 2012
  • Completion of Introduction and Conceptual/Theoretical Framework (Chapter 1): April 15th
  • Completion of Literature Review (Chapter 2): April 30th
  • Completion of special chapter on identity and how it shapes us as facilitators of discourse (Chapter 3): May 15th
  • Completion of chapter on the identities of the three participating teachers (Chapter 4): May 15th
  • Completion of special chapter on Bloomfield High School history and polity from participating teachers' points of view (Chapter 5): May 31st
  • Completion of chapter on perception of student identities by participating teachers and what they attribute student identities to (Chapter 6): June 15th
  • Completion of Methods and Analysis (Chapter 7): June 30th
  • Completion of chapter where analyzed data is presented July 15th
  • Completion of chapter on findings July 31st
  • Completion of epilogue on what happened at one alternative school where I taught 5 students who were thrown out of Bloomfield High School. August 15th
  • Completion of chapter on how this research can be used to aid teachers who seek to use conflict during discursive exchanges as a window to teacher and student identities and an opportunity to reveal the causes of identity conflicts. The chapter will include suggestions for further research. August 31st

Thursday, November 10, 2011

wow. The last three months have been a blur. All that I can say is that this has been the hardest school year of my life so far and it has nothing at all whatsoever to do with this dissertation. It mostly has to do with the fact that hurricane Irene flooded our building and now we are in a much less suitable space. I am really only now able to focus on writing again. I am also making music again in my new church and starting an exercise regime. Those things really help. I am taking a couple of courses to keep me going academically.

So my thoughts on the dissertation are that I want to interview two students at ECA who went to BHS. They have become pretty close to me and want to spend more time with me. I want to bring them to a focus group interview once or twice. I have to get IRB approval to do that, however. But it will really bring this whole research full circle. My next move is to contact GT, DD, and MG to arrange a few visits to observe them.

Ever onward.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A new addition

Yesterday I ended up recording a classroom session from MG and interviewing him about his personal background. I love this. it is so very intriguing. I want to do at least one more focus group may be two. Last year's were amazing and I only did two. One at the beginning of the year and one towards the end. I think with the remaining month of the summer I will listen to all I have so far and look at the genocide writings to see if I can create some focus group questions for next year. I also have to look at Henry A. Giroux, Irving Goffman and Foucault. I owe to research papers and I need to get those done before school starts. I was thinking that Morell and I need to create a library schedule so we can both succeed. We need an exercise schedule, too. I'll work on that over the next couple of weeks. I think what has been difficult for me is coming to terms with the realization that this is a dual effort. I have to figure out how to include Morell because he has really sacrificed greatly so that I can do this.

So interesting. I felt like I was meeting MG for the first time. The would-be historian who became an Earth Science teacher. His dad was a mathematician who watched the calculus problems on the Rutgers channel on Saturday mornings. So math and its acceptable cousin, science was a more acceptable pursuit. He was most influenced by his high school history teacher. I really saw that influence in his teaching when I observed him. I also saw how his teaching style was influenced by his college education in science. Good stuff.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I'm starting to understand who they are

I am listening to the interviews and I am getting an idea of who DD and GT are as people and as educators. GT wants his students to ask questions and wants to push his students to do some work outside of class. He identifies with the College Prep student who has not yet come into his or her own yet and has a fear of failure and a fear of success. He remembers sharing that identity with those students as a teenager. But seeing as how GT went on to acquire a PhD in pharmacology, he came to understand that he needed to do some work to get there. I relate his experiences with his Dad to the spark that propelled him to succeed. His father's identity influence GT greatly. And yet his is experiencing success in getting students to read and study outside of class, because he has made that his main focus. He sees that discourse is increasing because in his words"they now have something to talk about because they have done the reading.

DD on the other hand came from the working poor class. He has stated how greatly that influence him as he was growing up and what a wonderful childhood he felt he had in spite of the economic challenges. Dan relates to the lower level student and feels he has street cred because he lives on the South Side of town where many of the less wealthy students live. DD is much more aware of racial statistics in the school. Listening to his life story I found that DD was deeply influenced my MLK and the racial issues of the 50s and 60s when he was growing up. DD wants his students to be open about their thoughts and questions and to feel comfortable and enthusiastic about his class. He wants them to perceive him as an ok guy who is not so different from them. He sees his students as potential friends in the future.

What is a bit saddening is that neither DD or GT or FR thought that there was much room for true discourse in their classes due to a number of issues. The acknowledged that there was pretty much exclusively fact giving and clarification. But both GT and DD acknowledged that they allow students to go off into tangents if they will only ask questions. I need to observe them for myself to try to capture some of these tangents. They feel that very little critical thinking and synthesis takes place, but some students are thinking if they are willing to ask questions that they have come up with on their own. I am beginning to understand what is coming out of these data. But at the same time, I need to see for myself what is going on in their classrooms. Since there can be no video recording, I have to just take some days off next year and sit and observe.

Now, to rope in MG. He agreed to participate! Woo Hoo!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

So what will this book look like?

I was just thinking while listening to DD's interview that I want to start from the interviews. Of course after I do the required review of literature and framework and methodology sections, I'll depart with discussions about the teachers as individuals. From there I think I will discuss their perceptions of how their identity influences their interactions with their students and their perceptions of discourse. Those interviews were so interesting, that it will immediately grab the reader's attention. After that, I will tie in some of the theories with their discussions about their perceptions of how identity influences discourse. The focus groups will be the next chapter, and again I'll start with a discussion of how they are perceiving themselves and the state of education. I'll talk about how all of this influences discourse identity. I think some of the literature we read in Alan's class will become useful at this point.

The next chapter will be about the classroom sessions. What I am realizing is that I want to sit in and observe the teachers myself. Not even so much to code the sessions, but just to see if there is evidence of how their beliefs match up with what they are saying int he focus groups and individual interviews.

I'll end with analysis and conclusions. I had the idea the other day to contact Jeff to see if he wants to come to ECA and talk to me about how to use those data and also about how to code and analyze the other data I have. That might be a really good idea. I'll get in touch with him towards the end of August.