Here is another progress update. I missed my May update. I got busy with life/work balance again. A lot has happened since April. As I sit here and reflect, I am truly proud of myself—professionally and personally—as I continue learning, living and leading. I just had a birthday (insert birthday dance). I am a 48 year old woman and I feel like I am truly beginning to live (I think I say that every year). I have just completed my 20th year as an educator. I am an educational specialist with a wealth of knowledge to share. I am looking forward to the next 20 years of having an impact on student academic success via working to build teacher self efficacy in every educator I come in contact with.
I have knocked down two more courses which brings me closer to end of coursework. . I hit a bump in the road, when I miss calculated how many classes I had left to take, but I had to remember that I am not trying to rush the process, I am having to pay close attention to the courses I register for, because I am close to the end and other doc students have had issues with taking courses not needed and/or taking courses again without knowing. This summer I will get a break (July) because the amount of courses I need is shrinking and there is no available course for me to take in the summer II session. I was temped to take two tough courses this term because this would have allowed me to finish a semester sooner. I was advise against it for my sanity's sake and I am glad I listened. I am trying to keep moving at a steady pace to maximize my learning along the way. It is working and I am able to apply what I am learning in practical ways in all aspects of life. I continue to try to get my writing published and keep getting feedback that tells me to "revise and resubmit". I do expect that, and I know feedback like that will help me focus my writing and help the dissertation process become much smoother when the time comes.
On to statics, I am in the place in my pursuit where I am working through courses that will help me build the skill set necessary to be called Educationis Doctor (EdD). Statistics is one of the first of those courses. I had/have anxiety about this course because I fear working with numbers and I fear not being successful in my pursuit. Week one is over and my anxiety has subsided (just a little). Like my sister told me: "The last quarter is always the gut climb". I am understanding that this course is set up to prepare me to use, understand, and interpret the data that I gather when I conduct my own research. I am excited to be this close to the finish of my pursuit. I will be fortunate enough to have a break in course work to rest, refresh, and work on making sense of all the courses I have taken thus far.
I have big things coming this year. Stay tuned to see what happens next. Thank you for reading..
I am tired!!! It is hard, at times to even want to continue. (I am not stopping though; I will finish) The quality of my work is suffering and so is my focus I know that means it's time for a break. All I can think of is finishing and what I need to do to get done. That is my motivation for now. In my talking to people who have made this pursuit, I understand that these feelings are normal. I also know that since I am not giving up, I must find a way to push through.
So, here is my update for this month. I continue to find ways to discuss, share, and refined my research topic. I participated in the A & M-Commerce Research Symposium. I used information that I have so far on my topic. I know I was not nearly ready, but I know that I need as much experience as I possibly can get in sharing my topic so that I can defend it when the time comes. I will say that I did not do well, but I did not expect to. I did have the opportunity to share my thoughts and get some good feedback from a couple of professors on what some good possible next steps will be for me. So, in that aspect; the experience was beneficial.
I'm a guest blogger:
As a result of this blog, I was given the opportunity to be a guest blogger for McGraw-Hill Education's Art of Teaching Blog. My piece was titled "The Heart of the Read-Aloud". https://medium.com/inspired-ideas-prek-12/the-art-of-the-read-aloud-5847af75c792 Check it out here. My piece was published this month and I am very proud of that. I will be writing something for them again, very soon.
Big News Alert!!!
I have an upcoming opportunity to do some work related to my future goals. This work has required me to update and revise my resume and my vita. In doing so, I realized that I am missing some very important experiences that are necessary to "pad my resume" if you will. I am venturing out and making new connections—this is hard for me— I am an introvert. I have some new and big things coming in the next few months that will help me to establish myself as a thought leader in the field of literacy.
I can see the future and it is looking bright. I believe that I will not fail if I can just keep moving. So, here's to forward motion...
Thank you for reading...
Well, it’s time to update you again. I know, I know, I said that I would update you on my progress more often, but I’ve noticed that I have been repetitive when I do. So, I’ve decided to make sure I update at least once monthly and/or when I have big news to add. I am still struggling with balance—I think I always will—which means I play catch up quite often. I will continue no matter what. I do have some news that I think is good. That leads me to this month’s updates. I want to tell you about my experience at TALE 2018 and about me now being a published author.
The TALE conference is nothing new, but to me it is a very big deal. It is another opportunity to present to educators at the school level, the college level and at the post graduate level that I don’t work with every day. It is also an opportunity to share my ability to create a presentation and share my research. That is the fun part. I would do this just for the shear enjoyment of my own creation. This time I decided that I would take a different approach and share some of the work I have done toward my dissertation. I was able to work on the beginnings of my dissertation in the classes I took in the fall semester, so I decided that I need to share that information as much as possible because I need to become better at sharing and defending that information. I am proud to say that I was able to do so at this conference and had an audience of people that came to hear what I had to say. I was pleased to have this opportunity. TALE (the Texas association for literacy education) is an organization that I am glad to have an association with and I plan to continue this association. I see opportunities for my growth as a literacy leader.
In one of my reading courses, our class’ main assignment was to complete an action research assignment to show how we used the information from the class in our occupations. Each person in the class had to write that information into a narrative and submit to our professor. He showed us the format he wanted us to use to submit it. We did it and he told us he was going to submit it to the Journal of Teacher Action Research. He did, and we got an email that our article titled: “Using Action Research in a Graduate Literacy Class to Connect Theory to Practice: A Replication Study” will be published in their Fall edition. I am very excited by this opportunity. I will continue seeking opportunities to write and publish my work. My next step is to submit a version of my dissertation’s chapter 2 (the review of the literature) to the TALE yearbook. This is the same publication that told me “No “last year. I am going to take their feedback, look at what I have already written and do some edits and try again. I feel that I have learned a great deal from my experiences thus far, so I am ready to try again. Whisper a prayer.
Thanks for reading. Leave me some feedback.
Since my fall semester finished in December, I had lots of ideas for goals to accomplish while I was on break. At the same time though, I was exhausted. So, although; I wanted to edit my review of the literature on vocabulary instruction and the read-aloud and find a place to publish it, I didn’t even look at it. This was an opportune time for a break and was also a good time to write because the spring semester did not begin until the first week of February. I did get plenty of rest but also may have lost so valuable time toward my timeline of having my doctorate by 2020. The rest worked out though because during this time I had to stop to bury my dad.
If you remember, I looked at the courses I have completed thus far and I told you that I am 3 semesters (including this one) away from completing my coursework. That is seven classes, 2 this spring, 2 in the summer and that leaves 1 left to complete in this fall. There are several factors that can come against this timeline for example, the courses I need may or may not be offered when I want to take them. I am in prayer that this situations happen. In the time that I have left to complete my coursework. I have residency requirements that also need to be completed by the time I finish coursework.
I have several things I want and need to have completed in order to stay within my timeline (Ed.D by 2020). I still intend to be working on chapter’s 1, 2, and 3 of my dissertation. I want to start that by revising and editing my chapter 2–the lit review. That portion is my proposal—the “what’s and why’s” behind my research idea. That needs to be completed because the college has to say yes to what I want to study. I often work on my residency and am finding lots of enjoyment doing so. I have volunteered to work at conferences, I have attended workshops where other doctorate students talk about their research, and I have presented at conferences at the state level. I understand why this needs to be done because it has opened my eyes to all the opportunities that having a doctorate will bring my way.
I am especially proud to be presenting at TALE 2018. This is my second year doing so. I am looking forward to sharing my progress so far. It is a good feeling to be going again. I am looking for ways to work in this organization and networking with these Texas literacy leaders.
I can see the light at the end of this tunnel I call doctoral pursuit and I am very excited about my progress so far.
Thank you for reading…
Dear Daddy, I know it is time for you to go. You are truly missed and it’s time to say goodbye. I want to thank you for your part in making me who I am. I was able to see what a man should be by watching you. A few times I’d eavesdrop on some of the conversations you would have with the people who sat in your chair and talked to you while you cut their hair and learned that a man should be passionate about something. I saw a man who was always there and always worked to keep us taken care of and I learned stability. I saw a man who was revered and respected by people all over the city and felt protected and safe. I saw a man who had a vision for something and went out and did it. I saw a man that said education was important so, I keep going and keep learning and keep growing. I thank you daddy, because of you; I am me. I have the memories of you that will keep me going and I will cherish them in my heart forever.
Good bye daddy, I love you, your service here is done.
Thank you for reading...
Another semester has come to an end. I am writing to update my progress, not only for any readers I might have; but also for myself. I can tell I am nearing the end because I kept getting the question: "How many semesters do you have left?" I really could not answer that and I felt that, that was a question that I needed to know the answer to. So, I looked it up. As of an hour ago when I submitted my last assignment for my Reading 640 class, These are my reflections so far.
I have taken (and passed with all A's so far) 12 classes. I have gone through learning to write professionally (the reason for this blog) to process writing which is the theory behind the process. I have learned about content area literacy, culturally appropriate literature and pedagogy, assessment and the learner, and reading courses that taught me reading theories, processes, and research. I continue to say that I am learning and applying what I am learning to my work, but; I am also very fortunate to say that I have also been able to begin the process of writing my dissertation proposal. That is a very big deal for me because I can see how all of the course work I have completed so far can and does relate to everything I do in my doctoral pursuit.
I have 7 classes, that's 3 semesters left before I take my comprehensive exams and begin the process of writing my dissertation Which is another (possible) 12 semester hours, These courses go at my pace so, that will be the true test. I will have no specific date or time to attend class, no specific date that assignments are due, and I will have those 4 semesters to write, conduct my research, and defend my research dissertation. I have had a very hard time this semester staying and keeping focus on reading and course work. This will be the biggest test yet. I am excited about the challenges that are coming. This break will be a good time for me to get some reading and writing done at my own pace so that I can get back into the habit of writing everyday.
Thank you for reading...
Pearl Dean Garden
It’s time for a temperature check. This time of year educators often experiencing burnout. How do you know if you are experiencing this? Well, I read an article in Psychology Today written by Sherrie Bourg Carter Psy.D. In the article, Carter states that burnout is a state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment (2013). These feelings are valid and should not be ignored. Life is busy and sometimes hectic but; guess what? It doesn’t stop cause we are tired and the kids (our commodities) still show up. They always show up!!! So, how are you? I have had to stop and think about my answer to this question. I will admit I am tired. This is the main reason for this blog post. I have issues with work, life, school, balance at times (most times) and it is coming to a head on the verge of burnout. My work load and home responsibilities seem to go into overdrive. Fortunately, I recognize the warning signs and make the necessary adjustments to keep it from getting out of control. I have to quietly remind myself to remember my balance. Your co-workers may also be experiencing these feelings. What can we do to help with this? We can be each other’s advocates. You can check-in with your teammates and other co-workers to see how they are doing. I am an instructional specialist and as I recognize the signs of burnout with my teachers, I become a listening ear, to hear their frustrations and validate their feelings. Any placing where I can be support to them, I step in and provide that support. As a doc student, I try to share my feelings with other doc students just to see if my frustrations and issues are valid and to see what others do to combat these issues. You can also take the time to relax, relate, and release to rejuvenate yourselves to make sure you are your best self for your most precious commodities — the children you are responsible for. Please remember that we have to be our best selves for the children. It's all about the children.
I am at a midpoint in my course work for this doctoral pursuit. At this point, I truly have come too far to turn back. The courses I am currently taking are preparing me for the writing of my dissertation, one course deals with research methodologies and the other deals with reading research. Each of the courses collectively are preparing me for the literature review that will begin my dissertation. I am learning things that I am applying directly to my work and synthesizing things I have learned in some of my other course work. This is allowing me to focus more specifically on a research problem to explore. It is time to narrow my research topic a little more. I am reading more than I am writing and have subsequently stopped updating this blog as often as I once was. I
I am feeling tired and am showing a little less focus which may be a sign that it is time to take a break between courses. I am a procrastinator at heart so, for me to stop for a break could be detrimental to my goal of finishing in the time I have targeted. I feel like as I matriculate through this pursuit, there will be other things that may slow my forward motion so, stopping for a break is not an option I want to explore at this time. I just have to keep my work-life balance in mind as I continue on.
I am still looking for opportunities speak to educators and to share my writing. I have been allowed to present at TALE 2018, so I am excited to have the opportunity to do that again. I will work on revising the manuscript that I submitted to them and find the proper audience to bring it to. This time when preparing for TALE I will be building the basis for what will be my dissertation topic. I am going to look at using vocabulary instructional strategies during read-alouds. I am still toying with this idea and I want to see if it is even feasible to do so.
I am excited to be sharing this pursuit with you. Thank you for reading. Please feel free to leave a comment.
As a part of my RDG 640 Seminar in Research, I was given the assignment to create a timeline of the events leading up to and culminating with my pursuit of this doctorate. Creating the timeline gave me the opportunity to reflect on my progress thus far and also helped me remember and refocus my end goal. I thought this would be a great post to share with you all, because Habakkuk 2:2 says: " and the Lord answered me: "Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run with it who reads it. " I will reflect on this goal, update, and edit it as necessary.
In 2013, I was given a letter of non-renewal from my school district. The letter stated that If I did not find a job by the end of the school year, I would not have a job and my contract would be terminated. At this point in my life and my career I was a single parent, had a deceased ex-husband who had suffered from mental illness and truly was never much help. I had been in education for about 15 years but had only obtained a masters degree to receive an extra 1000.00 a year. I was truly doing nothing to make myself marketable. It was at this point that I was forced to make a lateral move in my career (it truly was a blessing in disguise though) I began working and learning at my new job and had vowed to never be in the place again where I would have to take a position in desperation. I pursued a second masters in advanced literacy with a reading specialist certification. I then applied for and received a promotion to become a k-2 instructional specialist.
In 2015, I began work as an instructional specialist. I was responsible for coaching, training and mentoring 8 educators. I learned a lot in this position and began thinking about how I could continue to learn my job better. (this position is not a contracted position which means that if funding for the position ends, so does the job.) I already had the impending mission to keep making myself marketable and noticed that several people that were in higher positions, positions that I would love to be in; had their doctorates. It had become a bucket list "thing to do", before but I'd never felt ready to commit to the workload nor level of work it would take to complete it. My children are going up and completing and/or beginning college, now is the perfect time to commit.
In 2016, I applied for and was accepted into the doctoral program with Texas A&M-Commerce. I am learning and growing with every course. I am applying what I learn to work and life. My residency is teaching me what I need to do to be a thought leader in my field and I am gaining the experience necessary to be a leader in my department and/or move into top positions in other departments within my current school district and (if available) outside of my district. I have even considered becoming a consultant. I have submitted proposals to conferences and spoken at the district, local, and statewide level. I have found that I love doing this and will continue. I have also found that I love working with new and novice educators and would love to do this as an instructor at the graduate level at some point.
My goals are constantly being molded and reshaped as I learn and experience more. Stay tuned to some exciting announcements to come as I pursue them..
Thank you for reading. Feel free to leave feedback.
Pearl Garden is a doctoral candidate at Texas A&M- Commerce. Follow along as she chronicles her pursuit of her Ed. D in Supervision-Curriculum and Instruction- Elementary Education. Just know that these are the ramblings of a doc student and a lot of what you read is a first draft and will go through some rewrites.