Standard 2: Analyze learning to promote student growth

Before my studies in the Masters in Teacher Leadership Program, I had heard mention of Action Research but did not know what it entailed. EDU 6979 – Action Research in School Settings and EDU 6528 – Accomplished Teaching helped guide me through valuable learning experiences regarding the Research Action process itself, and also more specifically regarding my area of focus for my project. I now feel capable and confident enacting an Action Research Project on my own using 3-legs of data and presenting  my research professionally to colleagues.

For my first RAP Data Collection, I had two main goals:

GOAL 1: Increase student appreciation for the complexity of Spanish-speaking cultures

GOAL 2: Give students the tools to compare their own culture with that of Spanish-speaking peoples, and to do so in a respectful, sensitive way.

These goals came from:

  • Feeling like I’m teaching content and skills, but what I really want to do is teach deeper, more meaningful themes of inclusion, tolerance, kindness, acceptance and understanding, social justice.
  • A very interesting line of conversation about culture and misconceptions about what it meant to be “hispanic” vs. “Spanish” that arose in a Spanish 1 class. My mind was spinning after the class about where I should go with this theme from here. The students were clearly engaged. One student asked me on her way out the door if we could continue a similar conversation the next day.
  • As Spanish 2 students finished up their cultural presentations this week, I noticed they have a fairly superficial knowledge of Spanish-speaking cultures and I’m thinking I will use them as my classes for my RAP.
  • I observed this week that I still have a lot of work to do with my students, as I had a student complain of comments made by another student in class that were generalizing all latinos in derogatory ways and making said student feel uncomfortable. I started direct and explicit lessons that will helped them first understand the many components that shape each of our own personal culture and make us so complex. I took some ideas from our Multicultural Education class.
  • I had a couple different conversations with one of our school counsellors and the ELL teacher about my RAP and got their input on strategies for raising awareness of cultural diversity in our community and deepening their cultural sensitivity. We started small group conversations with ELL students who are native Spanish speakers. As Clark and Minami (2015, p. 189) discuss, it is important that students “also engage in weekly interactions with native speakers” in order to deepen cultural understanding while negotiating language.

Specific interventions employed during the length of this project were:

  1. Explicit teaching of cultural factors that affect our lives. As was recognized by Charles and Stevens, “programs need to recognize the current, existing reality of the students, particularly with respect to diversity.” (Charles & Stevens, 2005, p.20)
  2. Integrating cultural and linguistic lessons: In order to analyze stereotypes and cultural generalizations, cultural media and text should be used to address the topics from a logical analysis perspective and not a personal analysis perspective. In this way,“students are less likely to perceive and therefore resent the unit as yet another accusation that they and their generation are bigots.” (Wilson, 2015, p. 56)
  3. Exposing students to native speakers by utilizing: Skype in the Classroom, El Café discussion hour, student generated questions for Señor Vasquez and native Spanish-speakers. To improve cultural sensitivity in conjunction with language acquisition, it is important for students to “engage in weekly interactions with native speakers” (Clark & Minami, 2015, p.189).
  4. Question Box cultural questions and topics: Gutiérrez suggests various strategies I applied to try to increase cultural knowledge and sensitivity and meet students where they are, including: creating a cultural questions box, using student research and presentations to “hear what students have to say,” (Gutiérrez, 2015, p. 274) exposing them to the spoken word, raps, and culturally responsive music, and creating journals or learning logs.

Data collection included:

  1. 2 open-ended questions regarding general cultural factors
  2. A personal letter in which students explained their understanding of their personal culture
  3. Teacher observation and tally of culturally insensitive comments or generalizing questions

I gave an assessment regarding students knowledge of personal culture and it opened up some interesting conversations around what is culture. I asked students to write questions they had about diverse cultures, Spanish-speaking cultures, questions for my husband who’s from Bolivia, or for our TA who’s from Honduras. They could also write a topic they want to learn more about. I was blown away by all the questions and topics they came up with! I have basically an entire Semester’s worth of topics and curriculum now!

As I went over Period 5’s baseline assessments (a letter they wrote to me explaining their personal culture)  I learned a lot about my students on multiple levels, including:

  • Writing ability in English
  • Got a really good feel for the depth or superficial nature of their understanding of culture
  • Realized A LOT of students have a very superficial understanding of what factors make up/influence our culture.
  • Students wrote questions they have about culture/topics for investigation. REALLY good ideas-I got a whole semester’s worth of curriculum from here.

See full Action Research Paper here: Raising Cultural Competence and Sensitivity.

I’ve decided to teach more explicitly now and then I will work to weave themes of multicultural education into my lessons for the rest of the year. However, I struggled to figure out how to balance staying in Spanish and engaging ALL students in meaningful conversation about deep-rooted cultural concepts that go below the superficial surface of food, festivals and clothing. I really like being able to discuss cultural concepts, stereotypes, etc., but I hate switching into English to do so. In a Spanish 3 or 4 class we could discuss deep concepts and discuss/debate them, but with Spanish 2 it is challenging at times.

However, to truly make a real impact and get meaningful results, I need to extend the interventions over a longer period of time. My greatest takeaways from this course are that I can intertwine meaningful and interesting cultural lessons with Spanish instruction, and that I must be intentional and explicit about teaching cultural themes, but culture and language teaching need to be taught in a delicately intertwined way, not taught in isolation as so often is the case. They are not mutually exclusive. Also, cultural sensitivity comes through explicitly teaching students first to recognize and understand their own culture in a deeper way, and then through learning about explicit and implicit practices of other diverse cultures. Strategies I have been using that I will continue to extend even after this course has ended are:

-give students space to generate cultural questions/topics they are interested in and organize projects/presentations where they have to investigate and find their own answers

-teach students explicitly about their own culture first

-role-play with scenarios: explicitly practice what cultural sensitivity sounds and looks like

-implement student dialogue journals (in Spanish)

-expose students to authentic resources that teach cultural themes and use the Spanish language to engage students in conversations about these topics

-expose students to as many native speakers as possible, through Skype-chats, guest speakers, and conversation hours with ELL students

I have also reflected upon the idea that my PLC could significantly benefit from implementing some of the structure and research that is built into the RAP. As of now, PLC meetings are loosely defined and fairly unproductive. There is usually a general goal that defines our topic of discussion, but data is never discussed nor shared. We have yet to implement common assessments across courses to compare results and best practices. Frustrations are shared but rarely are concrete techniques or strategies discussed. I would love to bring my learning from this course to my PLC and suggest we follow some of the steps to conduct an informal Research Action Project and compare results among students to explore best practices across many classrooms and teaching styles. It would also benefit us to establish clear student outcome goals and specific data collection strategies.

Sources/ Literature Referenced

Charles, J., Stevens, R. (2005). Preparing teachers to teach tolerance. Multicultural      Perspectives , 7(1), 17-25.

Clark, A., Minami, N. (2015). Communication skills, cultural sensitivity, and collaboration  in an experiential language village simulation. Foreign Language Annals, 48(2), 184-202.

Gutiérrez, R. (2015). HOLA: Hunt for Opportunities-Learn-Act. The Mathematics Teacher,  109(4), 270-277.

Howard, G. (2006). As diversity grows, so must we. Educational Leadership, March 2007, 16- 22.

Wilson, N. E. (2015). Cross-Examining Bigotry: Using Toulmin’s Argument Model and Huckin’s CDA to Interrogate Overt and Covert Racist Arguments. The CEA Forum, Winter/Spring. Retrieved from http://www.cea-web.org

 

Standard 7: Utilize Instructional Frameworks for Teaching (TPEP) to Improve Teaching

Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 1.37.45 PMBefore taking the EDAD 6580 – Leadership in Education course with Dr. Alsbury, I knew very little about leadership theory and leadership styles, other than that which I had experienced and could discuss anecdotally. This course work and connected reflection helped highlight the importance of recognizing that who we are as individuals greatly influences our leadership style and preferences.

In this course I learned that I strongly tend towards Y Theory Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 1.37.49 PMManagement style according to the X-Y Theory Questionnaire. According to the Managerial Grid, I am strongest in the “Sound” managerial style that is characterized by examining what is right versus who is right. However, I also have tendencies toward the “Accommodating” and “Indifferent” styles. According to the Leadership Survey, I demonstrated a tendency towards a high task and high relationship style of leadership, but also with a second tendency to a high relationship and low task style of leadership. This parallels the results from the Managerial Grid and calls attention to weaknesses that can come about from too much emphasis on relationships and not enough follow through regarding high standards and consistently high expectations for everyone in the organization.

According to the Jung Typology Test I am have Introvert Sensing Feeling Perceiving strengths (ISFP), but only just. I scored only 9% introvert, meaning only a slight preference over extroversion, and only a 3% preference of sensing over intuition. However, I had moderate (38%) preference of feeling over thinking, as well as a moderate preference of perceiving over judging. I feel like this Typology test is quite accurate to how I perceive myself, and reflects changes in my adult leadership style, compared to my younger self’s tendencies. According to the Ross-Barger Philosophy Index I align strongest with Existentialist and Pragmatist philosophies.

We looked at the Washington State Leadership Standards (WSP Standards) 6 Washington State Principal Standards (WSP)  and compared them to the Danielson model used in teacher evaluations. A deeper analysis of my strengths and areas for improvement in relation to the WSP Standards can be found here: Leadership Standards Reflection.

Additionally, this course challenged me to look comprehensively at the whole-school vision and culture in a way I had never done before. Much time was spent analyzing the efficacy of data and educational research in this process. My most comprehensive artifact of this work is the Visionary Leadership Analysis.

My most important takeaways were:

  1. Any effective leader, but especially school leaders, must have a well-articulated vision that springs from one’s values and/or spirituality. This vision must be a shared vision with the rest of school stakeholders, although leaders should have some fundamental “non-negotiables” that speak directly to the core values and vision of the school.
  2. Every situation/school/community is unique and requires a different leadership style. Great leaders are able to recognize this, know themselves and their community, and adapt appropriately.

Resources

Owens, R.G., & Valesky, T.C. (2015). Organizational behavior in education: Leadership and school reform (11th ed). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Houston, P.D., Blankstein, A.M., & Cole, R.W. (2008). Spirituality in educational leadership. Thousand Oakes, CA: Corwin.

http://www.k12.wa.us/TPEP/Frameworks/default.aspx

Standard 3: Improve teaching and learning through the use of educational research at the classroom and school level

At the beginning of this program, I had a superficial understanding the role research played in teaching, but mainly viewed research’s impact  as relevant to setting school policy. When reading research, I often avoided dense articles that provided raw data, as I didn’t understand what it meant or how to read it.

However, at the end of this Teacher Leadership Program, I feel I have gained both the knowledge and confidence to find educational research articles, interpret raw data included in research articles, analyze and critique researchers’ conclusions regarding research, and apply findings appropriately to my own practice.

Some work that I have produced that helped me practice these skills can be found here:

Final Article Analysis

Assignment_Exam Anxiety Data Analysis

Mergendoller Article Critique_2

I also learned a lot about Action Research and put Action Research into practice in various courses throughout the program.

In my Action Research Class, I conducted a RAP that had two main goals:

GOAL 1: Increase student appreciation for the complexity of Spanish-speaking cultures

GOAL 2: Give students the tools to compare their own culture with that of Spanish-speaking peoples, and to do so in a respectful, sensitive way.

These goals came from:

  • Feeling like I’m teaching content and skills, but what I really want to do is teach deeper, more meaningful themes of inclusion, tolerance, kindness, acceptance and understanding, social justice.
  • A very interesting line of conversation about culture and misconceptions about what it meant to be “hispanic” vs. “Spanish” that arose in a Spanish 1 class. My mind was spinning after the class about where I should go with this theme from here. The students were clearly engaged. One student asked me on her way out the door if we could continue a similar conversation the next day.
  • As Spanish 2 students finished up their cultural presentations this week, I noticed they have a fairly superficial knowledge of Spanish-speaking cultures and I’m thinking I will use them as my classes for my RAP.
  • I observed this week that I still have a lot of work to do with my students, as I had a student complain of comments made by another student in class that were generalizing all latinos in derogatory ways and making said student feel uncomfortable. I started direct and explicit lessons that will helped them first understand the many components that shape each of our own personal culture and make us so complex. I took some ideas from our Multicultural Education class.
  • I had a couple different conversations with one of our school counsellors and the ELL teacher about my RAP and got their input on strategies for raising awareness of cultural diversity in our community and deepening their cultural sensitivity. We started small group conversations with ELL students who are native Spanish speakers. As Clark and Minami (2015, p. 189) discuss, it is important that students “also engage in weekly interactions with native speakers” in order to deepen cultural understanding while negotiating language.

Specific interventions employed during the length of this project were:

  1. Explicit teaching of cultural factors that affect our lives. As was recognized by Charles and Stevens, “programs need to recognize the current, existing reality of the students, particularly with respect to diversity.” (Charles & Stevens, 2005, p.20)
  2. Integrating cultural and linguistic lessons: In order to analyze stereotypes and cultural generalizations, cultural media and text should be used to address the topics from a logical analysis perspective and not a personal analysis perspective. In this way,“students are less likely to perceive and therefore resent the unit as yet another accusation that they and their generation are bigots.” (Wilson, 2015, p. 56)
  3. Exposing students to native speakers by utilizing: Skype in the Classroom, El Café discussion hour, student generated questions for Señor Vasquez and native Spanish-speakers. To improve cultural sensitivity in conjunction with language acquisition, it is important for students to “engage in weekly interactions with native speakers” (Clark & Minami, 2015, p.189).
  4. Question Box cultural questions and topics: Gutiérrez suggests various strategies I applied to try to increase cultural knowledge and sensitivity and meet students where they are, including: creating a cultural questions box, using student research and presentations to “hear what students have to say,” (Gutiérrez, 2015, p. 274) exposing them to the spoken word, raps, and culturally responsive music, and creating journals or learning logs.

Data collection included:

  1. 2 open-ended questions regarding general cultural factors
  2. A personal letter in which students explained their understanding of their personal culture
  3. Teacher observation and tally of culturally insensitive comments or generalizing questions

I gave an assessment regarding students knowledge of personal culture and it opened up some interesting conversations around what is culture. I asked students to write questions they had about diverse cultures, Spanish-speaking cultures, questions for my husband who’s from Bolivia, or for our TA who’s from Honduras. They could also write a topic they want to learn more about. I was blown away by all the questions and topics they came up with! I have basically an entire Semester’s worth of topics and curriculum now!

As I went over Period 5’s baseline assessments (a letter they wrote to me explaining their personal culture)  I learned a lot about my students on multiple levels, including:

  • Writing ability in English
  • Got a really good feel for the depth or superficial nature of their understanding of culture
  • Realized A LOT of students have a very superficial understanding of what factors make up/influence our culture.
  • Students wrote questions they have about culture/topics for investigation. REALLY good ideas-I got a whole semester’s worth of curriculum from here.

I’ve decided to teach more explicitly now and then I will work to weave themes of multicultural education into my lessons for the rest of the year. However, I struggled to figure out how to balance staying in Spanish and engaging ALL students in meaningful conversation about deep-rooted cultural concepts that go below the superficial surface of food, festivals and clothing. I really like being able to discuss cultural concepts, stereotypes, etc., but I hate switching into English to do so. In a Spanish 3 or 4 class we could discuss deep concepts and discuss/debate them, but with Spanish 2 it is challenging at times.

However, to truly make a real impact and get meaningful results, I need to extend the interventions over a longer period of time. My greatest takeaways from this course are that I can intertwine meaningful and interesting cultural lessons with Spanish instruction, and that I must be intentional and explicit about teaching cultural themes, but culture and language teaching need to be taught in a delicately intertwined way, not taught in isolation as so often is the case. They are not mutually exclusive. Also, cultural sensitivity comes through explicitly teaching students first to recognize and understand their own culture in a deeper way, and then through learning about explicit and implicit practices of other diverse cultures. Strategies I have been using that I will continue to extend even after this course has ended are:

-give students space to generate cultural questions/topics they are interested in and organize projects/presentations where they have to investigate and find their own answers

-teach students explicitly about their own culture first

-role-play with scenarios: explicitly practice what cultural sensitivity sounds and looks like

-implement student dialogue journals (in Spanish)

-expose students to authentic resources that teach cultural themes and use the Spanish language to engage students in conversations about these topics

-expose students to as many native speakers as possible, through Skype-chats, guest speakers, and conversation hours with ELL students

I have also reflected upon the idea that my PLC could significantly benefit from implementing some of the structure and research that is built into the RAP. As of now, PLC meetings are loosely defined and fairly unproductive. There is usually a general goal that defines our topic of discussion, but data is never discussed nor shared. We have yet to implement common assessments across courses to compare results and best practices. Frustrations are shared but rarely are concrete techniques or strategies discussed. I would love to bring my learning from this course to my PLC and suggest we follow some of the steps to conduct an informal Research Action Project and compare results among students to explore best practices across many classrooms and teaching styles. It would also benefit us to establish clear student outcome goals and specific data collection strategies.

Sources/ Literature Referenced

Charles, J., Stevens, R. (2005). Preparing teachers to teach tolerance. Multicultural      Perspectives , 7(1), 17-25.

Clark, A., Minami, N. (2015). Communication skills, cultural sensitivity, and collaboration  in an experiential language village simulation. Foreign Language Annals, 48(2), 184-202.

Gutiérrez, R. (2015). HOLA: Hunt for Opportunities-Learn-Act. The Mathematics Teacher,  109(4), 270-277.

Howard, G. (2006). As diversity grows, so must we. Educational Leadership, March 2007, 16- 22.

Wilson, N. E. (2015). Cross-Examining Bigotry: Using Toulmin’s Argument Model and Huckin’s CDA to Interrogate Overt and Covert Racist Arguments. The CEA Forum, Winter/Spring. Retrieved from http://www.cea-web.org

Research, 5 Star Research and Knowledge Construction

This week we focused on Research procedures and teaching research to students.Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 8.17.17 PMThe LWSD encourages use of the 5 Star Research Model. I appreciate the methodical and straight-forward approach that is this process. It makes sense to present to students in this format. However, I can foresee that to teach to students one would have to teach one step at a time, for example teach just planning, then just gathering, then organizing, etc. This would take up a lot of class time.

In my research this week I looked into the use of Google Cardboard in the classroom. My colleague first mentioned this new idea to me a couple weeks ago, and he is going to try to propose that we get a pilot program running at our school, now that myself and a few other teachers are on board and would be willing and exciting to see it’s potential in the classroom. I’m very excited by the idea that students may be able to take virtual field trips to Latin America and Spanish destinations. The applications for this technology in my classroom are endless.

My favorite source I found through my research this week was

http://www.youvisit.com/travel

Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 11.54.17 AM

Even without Google Cardboard, students can take virtual tours around the world. The only technical glitch I’ll need to work out and explore is whether or not students are able to access this website on their District laptops.

However, I must admit that at this moment, I am feeling quite overwhelmed with the prospect of teaching research to my students in an all-Spanish environment. I have heard it said that each year find one or two really meaningful things you are going to change to improve your practice and focus on those things, so as to implement them effectively and to not overstrain yourself and your time. However this year, I have completely changed my teaching model AND I am trying to be more reflective AND I’m video taping lessons for the first time AND I’m implementing OneNote Notebooks AND I’m trying to incorporate other ISTE Standards and implement other new technology. It is a lot and realistically I reaching a point where I am unsure how much “new” I will be able to handle this semester.

On a positive note thought, I do feel energized and excited this year because I am really being pushed and challenged to be better and to improve my practice for student benefit.


On a different note, this last week I spent 3 days introducing OneNote to my students. It took a lot of time and was hectic. I set up activities ahead of time and gave students a brief, all-class introduction to OneNote and then set them to work on a list of tasks which required them to explore OneNote and complete different activities, some individually, some in pairs. It was a bit chaotic. In the future, to improve this activity, I will put students in groups of 3 and organize the room so that they are physically sitting in these groups and work together to answer each others’ questions and work through tasks.