Final Days

Today marked the final day of class for my yearlong Interdisciplinary Seminar. This course spanned two semesters, meeting weekly to discuss theories of learning and literacy, paradigms, research design and conducting interdisciplinary research. Many of our discussions were anchored in the AZ Move on When Reading mandate that is being implemented this school year and the problematic nature of what it means to learning and literacy. It has truly been a year of rich learning and a space to grow in this new space.

The fact that this has been a year long class which I had with 11 other first year students and 3 wonderful professors—makes it hard to see the semester close–and our year together come to a close. We will enter our 2nd year, continue to follow our individual paths based on our interests and passions—and see less of each other. I do look forward to the day when we can work together again as scholars—making a positive impact in education.

I Am Thankful

I am thankful for critical conversations and shared laughs. For metaphors for scholarship (gangs of academia) to images to help us understand paradigms. I am thankful for the 13 smiling faces that greet me every Wednesday for class.

I am thankful for Amber, “The Task Master” love of Ke$ha.

For Kewman’s kindness and for Olivia’s celebrations that make us all feel special and loved.

 

I am thankful for Lori’s strength and resilience and for Josh’s thoughtful ways.

For Kelly’s style and computer support and Jim’s questions that move our group to different ways of looking at an issue.

 

I am thankful for Alice, the other part of the English Ed. cohort, sharing every moment with me.

For shared conversations with Julia and inside jokes with Maria.

I am thankful for Anna’s helpfulness and constant support.

 

I am thankful to my teachers and mentors, Betty and Jory, guiding us each week, stretching our thinking, and supporting us in this new space as doctoral students.

For your kindness, insights, and listening ears—I will forever be thankful.

 

I am thankful for this time that we spent together during the first year of our journey and for what the future holds as we continue on this path from student to scholar.

 

This is dedicated to my friends and colleagues in DCI 791.

 

 

 

Evolving Research Identity Memo

In my Intro. to Qualitative Research course, we were given the task of creating a research identity memo. This is to be a reflective piece about what informs my research goals, assumptions about my research, view of the world, and what knowledge I hope to produce through this inquiry. This is a very rough draft, evolving on a daily basis, as I continue to expand and extend my thinking in new ways.

Research Identity Memo

Before entering my doctoral studies, I taught for 8 years in schools across Phoenix and Glendale. These teaching experiences consisted of working with culturally and linguistically diverse students in 2nd-6th grade classrooms, with a majority of students being enrolled in self-contained Structured English Immersion (SEI) classrooms, then later, in English Language Development (ELD) classrooms. During my time in the classroom, the laws surrounding instruction of English Language Learners (ELLs) drastically changed mandating students be segregated into classrooms based on language proficiency level to receive a 4-hour block of prescriptive English language acquisition curriculum with the belief that students would reach full language proficiency within one academic school year.

Experiences working with students in both SEI and ELD settings, viewing first-hand the significant impact these mandates had on students, specifically their identity, motivation, and self-efficacy, was disheartening. This narrowing of curriculum, which was mandated by state policy, brought many unintended consequences to the learning space for ELLs. This included an increasingly more rigid view of what constitutes English language proficiency and the lenses through which reading and writing instruction was to be implemented, limiting the gaze of what counts as literacy.

My experiences led me to pursue a doctorate with the hopes of joining the larger conversation, already in progress, surrounding the instruction of ELLs, specifically in relation to providing them with a rich literacy curriculum that builds off their cultural and linguistic resources, allows them opportunities engage with text for authentic purpose, and find their voice through sharing their stories. With the research that I wish to conduct, I desire to illuminate the stories of my students and their families, both the struggles and successes, to inform practice and move the language and literacy conversation in new directions. However, my goal is not to impose my beliefs and values on the lives of students, families, and teachers, but to engage in critical inquiry work alongside them in their respective classrooms and community. It is important to me to stay grounded in the issues that classroom teachers are facing and the impact it is having on their daily instruction, specifically issues related to equity.

With this work, I am working at not bringing a “prescription” to the situation, but rather to better understand this dynamic and discuss how spaces can be created or are being created to support learners, without muting their voices. Through this I hope to uncover powerful teaching that is taking place and being successful in these conditions to possibly inform the practice of other teachers. Majority of my experiences are in SEI/ELD with one year teaching in the general education classroom, this gives me a working knowledge of the ELD mandates, but with a different view of non-ELD classes that could possibly cloud my research gaze.

The Language Police Strikes Again

The Language Police has struck again.

Haven’t had a run in with them in a while. Maybe it is due to the fact that I’ve let go of some of my past baggage surrounding my language narrative.

But, a conversation with an acquaintance reopened that wound.

A wound that I thought was healing.

A wound that I fear our children, in this crazy policy driven educational system, is causing pain, and possibly scarring of their identities. 

First Semester Musings

The marathon of the first semester has come to a close. Just five short months ago, I embarked on my first day of graduate school as full-time doc student, leaving the comfort of my very own classroom, and entering the next chapter in my life. It feels like just yesterday I stepped foot into my first class of my doctoral program, excited, but unsure. Not about my decision, but about my abilities. Would I be able to measure up? Did I belong in this new place?

Grades posted, and I feel happy and confident about what lies ahead. I ended the semester with positive grades, but regardless of the letter grade that I earned, I feel like I made tremendous growth as a learner, thinker and writer—and this is truly priceless.

The break from the classroom is by far the toughest aspect of my new journey. For the past 8 years, I had the privilege of working with linguistically and culturally diverse students in 2nd-6th grade. I loved the time that I was able to spend with my students, learning together as readers and writers. During this time, I grew as a person, learning each day, refining my craft and doing all that I could to ensure that my students learned all that they could. Most importantly helping my students to find their voices through writing and expanding their minds through reading.

However, being a full-time doc student at the university has been a blessing, allowing me to fully immerse myself into the daily life of the “academy.” I never imagined that I’d be able to go to school as a full-time student, but due to the blessings and support of Dr. Arias, I was granted a research assistant position that enables me to work and take classes, allowing me to participate fully in activities on campus. Being able to meet other doc students who are in various places in their journey has been the MOST beneficial. To hear their stories and feel their support has meant the world to me. It helped me to realize that I’m not alone on this journey, though the road may be long; it is one that is not impossible to travel.

My classes provided me the platform to grow as learner, thinker, writer, and aspiring scholar. Classroom discussions expanded my mind and encouraged me to think in different ways. I learned to really listen, without judgment to opinions/viewpoints that may be different from mine, finding new lenses with which to view and attack educational problems. Dr. Gee, Betty, Steve and Dr. B. will always hold a special place in my heart, for they were my first teachers during this journey, nurturing me and guiding me along the way. Their support and guidance has been remarkable. I owe them all so much.

As the 2014 semester begins, I remain grateful for this opportunity, not taking a moment of this journey for granted. I’m looking forward to the learning ahead and the opportunities that await. Learning, and continuing my education, taking my studies to the next level is the greatest gift that I have been given from my family and those who are lifting me up and supporting me on this exciting journey.