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Teacher as Researcher/Applied Project

Topic: Looping for Learning

Robert Sager
DCI 510.593

 

This research project showed me, in part, where I stand as a teacher. It showed me where some of my strengths are and it definitely showed me areas where I can improve. Through this six-week journey I saw that I could reach students in a more constructive manner. I always believed that teamwork was the answer to many of life’s situations. This project reinforced that belief. If the parents are involved, the job of a teacher can be less stressful and if the job of a teacher is less overwhelming then the teaching process is more successful. Journaling helped me get my frustrations out on paper where I could then search for answers. This project gave me a start in the right direction to help me become a happier, empathetic, and more successful teacher.


Pam Jewett and Nancy Goldstein
May 7, 2003

Introduction

Background

After I earned my teaching degree I discovered how lucky I was. Many new teachers send resumes and interview endlessly hoping to land the best job possible. I was offered a contract in a growing, southwestern city which was also where I lived. My first two years of teaching I taught fifth grade and was ready to make a career of teaching American History and multiplying fractions. In the spring of 2002, however, I was informed that a section of fifth grade would be cut. I loved the fifth grade curriculum, but I loved the school I was teaching at more which led to an idea never tried at my school.

My principal and I had heard about "Looping" where a teacher teaches the same group of students for more than one year. Being able to spend two years with the same teacher, a student is given a sense of security knowing what they can expect from a teacher. With looping, the students already know what their learning environment is and this promotes risk-taking and discovery (Grant, 1996). The idea for me was to go down to fourth grade, where they needed an extra teacher, and then "loop" back into fifth grade. I would have to learn another grade’s curriculum and that frightened me because I was so comfortable teaching fifth grade. As I researched the idea, I was amazed at how much sense this philosophy made. In looping I was able to get to know students at an even deeper level. Another aspect to looping was getting to know the parents better. A basic purpose to looping for me was to build a strong team atmosphere between parents, student, and teacher.

Purpose

The school year was off and running, going in a positive manner, but I was experiencing four or five students who consistently failed to turn in work, and this eventually led to poor grades. During the spring semester, I began my research class and kept thinking about the students who were struggling with completing work. As I wrote in my journal, the same students and their struggles kept "speaking" to me (Research Journal 2-13-03). I wanted to find a way to help these students who were capable of completing their work, but failing to do so.
Research Question

For my research class I had been keeping a journal. Although an arduous task at first, I began to see the value of its impact on my teaching. In my class we had discussed journals between students and teachers. These journals helped teachers get a better understanding of their students by writing back and forth. After a few weeks of keeping a journal I wondered what would happen if I could develop a stronger communication tool than a simple note home concerned about a student. During my class, the question for my research struck me:
What happens when a journal is kept between the teacher and a parent?

Classroom Context

My first year of teaching I had thirty one students so when I discovered I only had twenty nine, I was overjoyed. I knew the "Looping" philosophy would be a positive one to parents and also knew there would be pitfalls along the way. The first obstacle was knowing that I would be with the same group of students -- good, bad, or indifferent -- for two years. Like most teachers I had my share of requests, but being a male teacher I also had the opportunity to receive the students who would, as my principal and other teachers would tell me, "benefit from having a male influence on their life." Sometimes I get frustrated by getting that stereotype, but for the most part I wear it as a badge of honor because deep down, I knew I was that student twenty years earlier.

My twenty-nine students consisted of thirteen girls and sixteen boys (The stereotype lives and breathes). Like most classes I had a wide range of student abilities. Seven of my students were in the gifted program while three others were part of the English Language Learners program (ELL). Besides having gifted students I also had extremely motivated students who worked hard for their A’s and B’s. My average students were the ones I was struggling with. Again, I looked back on my own life as a fourth grader getting a few A’s, a few B’s, and a few C’s.

There has always been a soft spot in my heart for the students who are viewed as just plain average. There are programs to give extra assistance to the gifted and services available for students with a disability or language difference, but when it comes to the "average" student a heavy burden weighs on the teacher and parents to get them to succeed. My research question, along with looping, allowed me to do something about my concern.

Theoretical Orientation

Being only my third year in teaching my theoretical orientation seems to be a work in progress. I have listened to speeches by Master Teachers such as Harry Wong. I have learned to set high expectations for my students, and I have worked on developing lessons to help my students reach mastery (Wong, 1991). With the help of my own post graduate courses I have learned many dynamic and exciting ways to keep students involved and motivated to make their own learning meaningful. There are times, however, when I revert back to the styles of my own "traditional" elementary teachers where a good room was quiet room. I knew there were things about teaching I wanted to understand more deeply, but frustration with not having all the answers probably led me back to this type of comfort zone.

My main goal as a teacher is to prepare a student for their future in and out of school. Part of this preparation includes maintaining expectations with an emphasis on positive and negative consequences. As I prepare a student for the next grade, they must understand the importance of completing their daily assignments and homework. This teaches them to become aware of the importance of time management which will only become harder to manage if they are not given the basic skills. To help students with this I have them maintain a daily agenda showing their assignments and future projects. I also provide the students, along with their parents, with bi-monthly progress reports to allow them to track their progress. This also lets them always know where they stand in each subject.

Another goal as a teacher is to find a balance between the philosophies. My teaching philosophy includes trying to reach all of my students by using various teaching methods. I believe in that students have multiple intelligences and try to make sure my lessons are diversified so that the strengths of all the students can be utilized. As much as I tried to meet the needs of all the students, there was one student whose learning was being diminished by other problems that went beyond different learning styles, and I wanted to understand how I could help him.
As mentioned earlier, there is sense of loyalty I have to the students who get average grades or are not totally committed to their school work. There is also a yearning to help some of the students in my class who share a similar background to my own. My parents divorced when I was in first grade. The custody issues that students face today are very comparable to my own. My father would get me every other weekend and once in a while throughout the week. If I had homework, it may have been packed in my weekend bag, but it usually stayed right where I left it waiting for me Sunday night or even worse, Monday morning.

Methods

Participant Selection

Thinking about the struggles I had growing up led me to Connor. The comment card his mother filled out at the beginning of the year advised me that he was very distractible. As mentioned earlier, the focus of my early journal entries for my research class kept leading back to Connor. We shared a common bond being products of divorce. Growing up I felt none of my friends could understand what I was going through because most of them came from the traditional nuclear family. I wondered if Connor had the same feelings. Spending the next two years with Connor could be a real struggle if we were going to battle daily to get his work turned in. Instead of looking at the next two years as a prison sentence, I looked at my looping experience as a way to build a stronger bond between the parent, the student, and myself. I looked at my own journaling and started thinking about the possibility of using a journal to gain insight from the parents and figure out what motivated Connor to excel.

Data Collection

Throughout this six week study with Connor I was able to compile data through a variety of tools. My first collection tool was the parent-teacher journal. The parent-teacher journal was greatly welcomed by the parents, especially Connor’s mother. I received an e-mail explaining her gratitude for my concern towards Connor. My original plan was to communicate at least twice a week with each parent. Since the parents were divorced the custody situation forced a change to a new plan of using the journal with the father when he took Connor for the weekend. The journal would be sent bi-weekly with the mother since Connor spent most of his time at her house. As I will explain later, this did not go as well as planned, but I was able to gain valuable information from both journals. It is important to point out that I used a separate journal for each parent to maintain a certain amount of privacy hoping that this confidentiality would develop a trust between the parents and me.

Another tool which had value was the student interview I recorded and transcribed. Although, the interview only lasted about six minutes, I was able to pull some information for my research that helped in the triangulation process and helped solidify my findings. For the interview, Connor and I went to the teacher’s room next to my own where we could talk in a private manner without leaving my other students unattended. The questions asked were meant to detail his progress in school and his attitudes towards the subjects taught. Another data collection method was student artifacts. One artifact I was proud of showed an improvement in Connor’s ability to complete his daily agenda in the allotted fifteen minutes each morning. Another artifact, which will be discussed later, was used to see what happened when a timer was used.

The last two forms of data collection were probably the most influential in guiding my research, my observations and my research journal. My observations of Connor, documented with field notes, were made during different parts of the day and in different social settings. The observations were not limited to the classroom. One observation was made during an assembly, while another was made during his Physical Education (P.E.) class. These observations helped strengthen the concerns made by the parents in journal entries and led to the codes in which this paper is based. Using the observations, I was able to find Connor’s strengths and look deeper into what his challenges were.
Finally, my own research journal was an indispensable tool where I could spot trends which developed into during analysis. This also became a place where I could go over my successes and vent my frustrations. This was a place for me to reflect on my teaching and develop further questions as I used the other forms of data collection. For example, the research journal gave me chance to compare an observation made at school and something a parent may have written about in their journal to me.

Data Analysis

Through the course of six weeks I was able to compile pages of information. In my parent-teacher journal I was able to ask the parents what their concerns were regarding their son. This allowed me to have a fuller picture of Connor at home and school. Their journal entries, combined with my own observations, led to three significant codes in which I studied further. These codes then led me to try different teaching strategies in order to help Connor become more successful. The three codes I targeted were: incompletion of daily assignments and homework, lack of focus, and the analysis of different teaching strategies.

Code: Daily assignments and homework.

Not completing his daily assignments was a definite problem for Connor. My general rule is that if I give an assignment the student had until the next day to complete it and turn it in. With Connor I would get a lot of excuses and blank stares (Research Journal 1-31-03). The consequences of staying in from recess did nothing more than make him sad. Another problem this consequence had was that I felt Connor needed to be outside and unleash his energy.

As I also reflect on the school year prior to my research, his grades were "saved" by being allowed to turn in late work for partial credit. This was reinforced when both parents cited that getting work turned was difficult for Connor. As his father pointed out in one journal entry, "Homework with Connor is always a series of negotiations…he can occasionally be very stubborn or uninterested." (Parent Journal 4-4-03)

Code: Lack of focus.

The next code was lack of focus. Both parents commented in their journals about the struggle to keep Connor on task. One journal entry discussed Connor’s lack of effort when it came to his chores (Parent Journal 4-11-03). Another journal entry made by the father advised that he would make classroom visits to his third grade classroom to help redirect Connor so he would get his work completed (Parent Journal 4-16-03). My own observations of Connor were at times very frustrating because of the amount of time spent off-task. I will go into more detail later, but he would do a number of things besides his assignment. Suffice it to say, Connor’s parents and I were in agreement on this concern.

Code: Analysis of different teaching strategies.

The first two codes led to the third code and a dialogue between one of my instructors and me. My instructor had experience with off-task behavior and provided me with some strategies to help with keeping the student on-task such as having the student keep a running tally of when he is redirected and using a timer. The trends came mainly from observations and student artifacts which were compared. With an analysis of suggested teaching strategies, I was able to construct more questions and led to intriguing findings. This code also led to some deep reflections relating to my teaching style and reaching every student in the best ways possible.

My Study

At the beginning of the year I thought that the quick fix would be to put Connor at the front of the room so he could better concentrate. This plan was not the grand solution I was looking for. The first two quarters we struggled to get his assignments completed and turned in (I say "we" because it was a daily battle asking him for work; Connor always looking through his back pack saying he could not find it, with the end result usually having me giving him another copy of the assignment. This was on the contingency that he gave up his recess time which basically meant giving up my preparation time).

The first part of my research journey started by asking permission to conduct this study. As mentioned earlier, both parents gave permission, but I was shocked at how grateful Connor’s mother was because she felt that I must care a great deal about her son to base my final project on him. They both signed the consent forms, and I sent each parent their own journal. My first question to each of them was to tell me about the family history and background. When I received the completed journals I was very impressed with how much detail they provided. Connor’s father discussed the day Connor was born and how hot it was. Both parents included how proud they were of him and how much love and devotion they had towards him. For example, Connor’s father wrote, "I am very proud of Collin and the way he cares about and involves himself with others…he truly cares about people and their feelings." (Parent Journal 4-1-03).

Once I had my question for this study I started to keep track of my interactions with Connor. One of my first research journal entries started off with frustration. I mentioned and highlighted "broken promises" (Research Journal 2-13-03). This was important to me because this was the initial part of my first code. Whether it was turning in an assignment or fulfilling his reading expectations, he would always advise that he would do everything at night. More excuses from Connor told me that the paper would be turned in the next morning or he would be able to take an Accelerated Reader (AR) test the following day. He once went over thirty days without taking an AR test. This may not seem like a huge calamity, but making the distinction of Model Classroom by AR was important to the class and viewed as a team effort. Another item I highlighted in my journal was how he was letting the team down.

I would not classify Connor as a typical behavior problem. Connor was not the student who interrupted a lesson or talked incessantly, but when I tried to organize my grade book there were always missing assignments. This is where I started to concentrate on my own observations. During one of my first observations of Connor he would sit at his desk and just stare and concentrate at what a student was doing or focus on the clock (Research Journal 2-24-03). Now I knew why work was not being completed in class.
Other observations included Connor taking his pencil apart or talking to a classmate as they walked by. The minutes of work time given seemed to slip away. After one observation, I called him to my desk and advised what I was doing for my research. I went over my expectations for work time and completing assignments and then asked when he was going to get his completed. He looked at me with a confused expression and asked, "What assignment?" (Research Journal 3-6-03). Lack of focus stood out clearly as a code for my data collection and I realized then that I, or we, had some work ahead of us.

Watching how he worked in class and the assignments he did not complete made me look at his progress reports I print out every other week. Math was not the biggest concern. Connor had all of his assignments turned in and did well on the quizzes. Where he was struggling had a correlation with something his father wrote early on in the journaling process. I asked what Connor enjoyed about school and he said math, P.E. and recess. What Connor did not like, according to his father, was reading and language (Parent Journal 4-1-03).With this in mind, I looked at one of our reading programs, AR. From August to February, Connor did not make any progress in his reading level. Making his AR goal had always been a struggle for Connor, but if one does not like to do something, it has to be difficult to put effort into it so I could empathize with Connor, to a point (Research Journal 3-4-03).

Another interesting discovery from the father’s journal focused on Connor’s "negotiations" when it came to doing chores or completing homework. As his father put it, "Before Connor would start his homework he would "negotiate" some kind of reward. He would only like to work on things for an hour at a time." (Parent Journal 4-4-03). Answering another question again referred back to Connor’s negotiations. Connor’s father wrote, "If I ask for something that seems to be a task, that is when he likes to start his negotiations." (Parent Journal 4-4-03).

Obviously, parenting takes on unique characteristics and it was definitely not my place to view this as right or wrong, however, there was a distinction between how he was treated at home versus how he was treated at school. As a teacher, or a parent of a three year old, I do not view homework or a request from an adult as "negotiable". This became a thought to consider when asking why he wasn’t completing his assignments. Since I was not one to negotiate, was it easier for Connor to simply put his school work in his desk and forget about it?

Although I received some valuable information from the father’s journal, I felt that the mother’s journal was a way for her to vent her feelings because she saw similar patterns at home regarding taking responsibility for chores and finishing them in a timely manner. One journal question I wrote for the mother was, "What types of chores or responsibilities does Connor have?" She wrote back that his responsibilities included taking out the trash, keeping his room clean, feeding his turtle, and emptying the dishwasher. My second question asked was about his consistency in completing these tasks. My third and last question for the week dealt with Connor being so easily distracted and wondered how this was at home. I received a page long e-mail explaining that the mother was getting nothing but excuses from Connor and he was being very mean to her and his sister. She saw a lot of frustration when she would sit down with Connor to do his homework. She also mentioned the routine that he goes through: "He’ll tap his pencil and then drop his pencil. The paper that was just in front of him was now lost. Or he’ll say that the teacher did not give any homework. When the paper is found he’ll put his head down and say how tired he is. When I ask him to sit up and get busy he gets mad and snaps at me." (Parent Journal 4-11-03). I definitely related to her frustrations. I have often found myself frustrated when a student gives every excuse imaginable. This type of behavior has always thrown my teaching rhythm off. I wondered if curbing these excuses could lead to a more successful student. If I could help Connor, I could help the other students with the similar situation.

At around the same time I discussed the situation with one of my instructors and looked at the codes that were forming. Because the time on task was linked and so important to getting work completed my instructor suggested that I use a timer with Connor and see if this would help. This sounded like a good idea so on April 21, 2003, I gave the class a timed multiplication drill with fifty math facts to answer. I normally used my watch to time the students, and Monday I did not make an exception as I gave them two minutes and thirty seconds to complete the drill. Looking it over, I recorded that Connor completed thirty out of fifty problems, but missed five. On April 23, 2003 I introduced the timer and repeated the multiplication drill (Research Journal 4-23-03).
So he would not be embarrassed, I told the whole class that the timer would be used. It was convenient that he sat towards the front of the room because I placed the timer next to him on the table near his desk. Yes, I was hoping that the timer would be the answer to my prayers and Connor would be "cured" showing me a perfect paper. After more thought, however, I understood that a cure was not what I was looking for. I was simply looking for some teaching strategies that could help a student. In reality, he finished twenty eight problems, but only missed three. The percentage correct was the same, yet a bright spot was he did miss fewer facts (Research Journal 4-23-03). In a way, I felt this was a success because he was concentrating more to get the correct answer.

As I used the timer sporadically throughout the next few weeks I noticed Connor’s assignments come in with more regularity. Not just for Connor’s sake, but for the class also, I would make myself more cognizant of the time and give a warning to let the students know how much time was left to work. As this seemed to be working I mentioned this in the mother’s journal. She advised that she was going to the mall with Connor to pick out a special watch to help him (4-22-03). He wore that new watch with a great deal of pride. I am not sure if the watch helped him stay focused, however, I did notice him check his new watch more than he checked the wall clock. Was the timer the answer to the question? I cannot say that it was. Connor was receiving more attention from his parents and his teacher. The timer did make him more aware of the time to complete a task, however.

As the time for the research project drew to a close I asked two final journal questions to the mother. I wrote to her about the progress he seemed to be making and was wondering how we was doing at home. Connor finished his chores and completed his weekly homework packet which had been another struggle throughout the year (Parent Journal 4-25-03). The second question involved a little extra homework completed by both Connor and his mother. I asked Connor to read to his mother, Just a Mess (1987), which was written by Mercer Mayer. I wanted to see what impact a story about expectations and completing a task might have on Connor. The book I asked Connor to read was about a boy who did not want to clean his room. I asked Connor to summarize the story to his mother. His mother asked him if the book tied into their life at all and at first he did not think it did. He thought a little more about it and then told his mother that he should keep his room clean and help more. Connor finished by saying that he should not argue with her or his sister (Parent Journal 4-25-03). I was surprised by how things worked out so well. After reading about the mother’s frustrations around the house I think reading this book made Connor realize that a family is also a team where everyone needs to pitch in.

I finished my journaling by asking Connor to do some journaling of his own. I asked Connor how he felt about using a timer and he responded, "Using a timer has helped me because I’ve been doing better and it helps me get my work done." (Research Journal 4-30-03). I then asked him how he felt about being part of my research project. He wrote back a very complete answer which shocked me. He wrote, "I think being part of your research is making me feel better. Because of being in your research I think I am getting more work done." (Research Journal 4-30-03)

Findings

Reading Progress

My major findings were that with time and effort, everyone can be more successful. I am not sure if Connor’s reading level improved, but I do feel confident that his motivation to read increased. Connor continually struggled with AR, but he improved during the last two weeks of the study. Connor is not considered an at-risk reader in AR any longer. He is consistently earning points to keep himself off the dreaded AR list and he is scoring well on the AR tests with eighty and ninety percent tests. My journal notes at the beginning of this project commented on his "empty promises" of reading forty pages at night when he does not read at all (Research Journal 2-13-03) to completing a 128 page book in less than a week (Research Journal 4-15-03). Consequences may have something to do with this because the class rule is if a student is at-risk they must stay in for recess. However, this has been the rule all year and something has changed making him want to read more. The extra attention he received was probably a huge motivator. He liked being part of my study and at the end of the study I asked that his mother read with him. Whatever the reasons were, I am simply happy that he was reading more.

Completed Assignments

Keeping a journal has been a positive experience in communicating concerns about Connor’s work. Through the journal I can see how communication can be filtered from the time a student leaves my class to the time they get home. The mother’s journal response from April 11, 2003 had two references to the teacher saying that the student did not have to turn that assignment in. Using a journal was a way for me to better explain how a student was to use their own daily agenda (see appendix) which went home every night and was to be signed to show that the parents knew what was going on with assignments.

Some student artifacts I collected to show this were parts of Connor’s daily agenda. Looking through Connor’s agenda, I was looking for consistency in filling out the correct sections, the completeness, and of course the parent signature (parent signature or support of this was hard to judge because they cannot sign something if it is never there for them to sign). I collected a section before the study began (October). I then copied a section close to where my study began (February) and finally a section towards the end of my research (April).
Through the analysis of Connor’s agenda I saw a lot of inconsistency. The month of October left many days unfilled and unsigned. February was interesting because his mother wrote in when his book report was due. He did do the book report; however, another major project was left incomplete. I remember having to recopy materials for him because he could not find his. Looking back, I am not sure if having his agenda filled out would have been the answer, but analyzing his agenda made me realize that Connor, his parents, and myself, needed to be held more accountable for his success.

As mentioned earlier, Connor showed progress in getting his work turned in. The last two progress reports were free of missing assignments and he had straight B’s in all five subjects taught. Looking back at how Connor felt about this research experience, I think the extra attention he received was very positive for him. Communicating with the parents about his progress also helped them keep track of what assignments were due or coming up in the future.

Managing the Parent Journals

This extra support led to Connor becoming more accountable for his choices. Just by giving him the added responsibility of getting the agenda back and forth to school was a way for him to practice being responsible. Like all new experiences, learning of procedures requires practice and the journaling process got off to a slow start. A journal entry of mine showed how frustrating this project could become when I was very down on myself and very unsupportive towards the ability of my participant. The journal was continually forgotten at school when I finally put the notebook in Connor’s backpack myself. I wrote in capital letters, "THE JOURNAL WILL GO HOME TODAY!" (Research Journal 3-28-03). I needed to remind myself of what he was accomplishing and to focus less on what he was not getting done.

Even though we got off to a rocky start, the journals did go home on somewhat of a regular basis. My original plan was to send the journal home with the mother twice a week and the father on the weekends he spent with Connor. Even though we had difficulties, I was able to get four journal entries from Connor’s father and six from his mother. Although the numbers do not sound too impressive, they both provided a lot of information and the mother, especially, went into great detail about the matters at home.

Lack of Focus and Teaching Strategies

Connor’s father brought up the fact that he went into his son’s room in third grade at different times to help Connor stay focused. He stated that this seemed to help him throughout the rest of the day (Parent Journal 4-16-03). His mother also believed that he had a problem with short-term memory (3-28-03). As mentioned earlier, the focus was a major hurdle in his success in my classroom so it was reassuring to have some data and history to better understand my student.

With the help of my instructor, I put a timer to use to see if that would help. The time restraint I had to conduct the research did not allow for conclusive findings, however, I think we made steps to help Connor stay focused. Because I get to "loop" with Connor into fifth grade I can actually continue my research and try some of the other strategies my instructor and I had discussed such as desk charts and self-checking tally sheets.

Some of the strategies I would like to try before school ends is to keep a chart tracking Connor’s off-task behavior. Throughout the study I questioned whether or not he knew how much time was spent doing other things besides his school work. I believe the timer helped, but I would like to try some other ways to help him understand this fact. Looking back through the interview transcript an answer Connor gave made me question his ability to perceive time. When asked how many times I redirected him, he answered once (Student Interview 4-4-03). Listening to the tape recording I could hear in my voice how shocked I was when he said that. Perception of time was also a factor when it came to accomplishing an assignment. For example, when he would tell me that he was going to read forty pages at night I could only ask myself, "How long does he think that will take him to do accomplish that?" (Research Journal 3-4-03). Throughout the rest of this year and next year Connor and I can focus on these issues and we can grow together.

Researcher Reflection

This study offered some very good news about my teaching as well some areas on which I need to reflect. After reviewing the journals and discussing the various teaching strategies I felt like I needed to reflect on how I approached Connor because he probably just needed that extra attention and reinforcement. Before this study I would blame the students for not fitting into my mold and doing as I asked, but now I can see where I can change my words or actions to encourage extra effort on their part. When they did not perform, I would agonize over the extra five minutes that it took to grade their paper and record it. I guess with twenty-nine students a teacher tends to get overwhelmed.

What I did understand through this process, like my students who get frustrated when they cannot figure something out right away, was I was feeling frustrated, too. The students get angry when they do not do something perfectly, and I guess I do as well. The difference is that if I do not do my job as well as I can then a student will suffer and possibly develop negative attitudes about school and learning. The thought of that is heart-wrenching. I realized that this was only my third year of teaching, and I was improving with each day. This class and this study made me a better teacher because I could help students like Connor.

My study helped me realize how important communication is. Getting to know the parents of a student helped me understand why a student might act the way he or she does. This study helped show how important expectations given by parents and teachers are to a child. With a deeper understanding of what Connor has to cope with going from one home to the other, I have been able to develop a stronger sense of empathy towards Connor. I can also reflect on my own life when I was his age and understand why I did some of the things I did.

Future Plans and Lingering Questions

Having Connor in fifth grade will allow me to continue my research. Through e-mail, Connor’s mother is better able to correspond with me about his progress. The journal definitely had value, but the use of technology will allow quicker response times. Continuing this research will also enable to explore questions I simply did not have time to pursue. For example, I would like to further explore Connor’s reaction to completing tasks and monitor his progress with our school social worker. He met with the social worker and a small group of students on a weekly basis where they could develop and discuss organizational strategies (Research Journal 3-24-03).

The research definitely influenced my teaching in the future. This project gave me the opportunity to make the time and try some new strategies where I may have looked for an excuse to maintain the status quo in the past (maybe Connor and I have more in common after all). This project, along with the experience of the instructors, offered some valuable tools to make my teaching better. If my teaching is improved, I can better meet the needs of my students. If that happens, the team of parents, student, and teacher is a successful one.

This research project showed me, in part, where I stand as a teacher. It showed me where some of my strengths are and it definitely showed me areas where I can improve. Through this six-week journey I saw that I could reach students in a more constructive manner. I always believed that teamwork was the answer to many of life’s situations. This project reinforced that belief. If the parents are involved, the job of a teacher can be less stressful and if the job of a teacher is less overwhelming then the teaching process is more successful. Journaling helped me get my frustrations out on paper where I could then search for answers. This project gave me a start in the right direction to help me become a happier, empathetic, and more successful teacher.

 

 

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