Sunday, May 19, 2013

Tips for Comprehensive Exam: July 7-14


Our comprehensive exam is looming.  As I take the final two courses (currently enrolled) I am calm about the exam that is one week in length.  Many of my friends and fellow colleagues have taken the exam.  The suggestions they provided could help others reading this blog.  Obviously it all depends on the program, institution, and format of courses; however, our professors provide us the questions to answer (usually 3-5 questions).  We have one week to complete the questions and many of the students average 30-40 pages in length, once completed.  Tips from students that have taken the test:
  • If you have a job, take the entire week off.
  • Only work a maximum of 8 hours per day, nothing more. 
  • Treat the exam as a job, once your 8 hours are finished, stop.
  • Do not try to take on family responsibilities while doing your exam.
More later...

Article Critque: A Time for Understanding and Action: Preparing Teachers for Cultural Diversity by Edwin D. Bell and Geraldine C. Munn

This paper reports an analysis conducted on the article A time for understanding and action:  Preparing teachers for cultural diversity by Edwin D. Bell and Geraldine C. Munn.  The analysis identifies the research question, context, participants and their role in the research study, cycle of action research, research method, how the data was analyzed, and issues or questions about findings.  In addition, identification of interest points and contribution to the diverse classroom conclude the analysis.

Identification of Research Question

            The article focuses on three research questions:  (1) What attitudes, skills, and knowledge do teachers need to effectively educate all students in a culturally diverse classroom?  (2) What models of in-service and pre-service education provides teachers with the skills necessary to effectively educate multicultural student populations?  (3) What systematic issues must be addressed to implement the models successfully?

Identification of the Context

            Students within an East Carolina Teachers Program indicated that they do not feel prepared to teach students of varied backgrounds and diversity.  When teachers finished their teacher preparation programs and began teaching, many were ill prepared for the challenges of the classroom; new knowledge that pre-service teachers attempted to implement involved difficulties because of the racial disparity in the classroom (Bell & Munn, 1996).

            By 2010, over 64,000,000 million students attend schools within the United States.  Of those students, almost forty percent will have minor classification status.  In 2020, that percentage increases to almost fifty percent of students.  If teachers are not prepared in today’s schools to teach diverse students, the epidemic becomes worse as time lapses (Hodgkinson, 1989).

Participants Role in Research

            East Carolina University’s School of Education led the study to answer the research questions.  However, the School of Education at Barton College, Northeast Technical Assistance Center, Pitt County Schools, Bertie County Schools, Elizabeth City State University, and East Carolina University collaborated to solve the problem.  Typically, teacher preparation programs enroll 92% Caucasian and 85% middle class (Bell & Munn, 1996).  Their role of research was to collaborate in order to develop strategies and models for pre-service and in-service teachers.  In addition, to address socialization of teachers in changing the culture of schools, teaching diverse students, and altering training programs within various teacher preparation programs.

            The project participants, first, focused on identifying skills, knowledge, and attitudes that are necessary for teachers to educate diverse classrooms within K12 institutions.  Second, they developed a pre-service model of educational training, within teacher preparation programs, to effectively train teachers on multicultural issues.  Third, the participants developed in-service educational models to train existing teachers in the field of multicultural education. 

Cycle of Action Research and Method

             The cycle of research included the School of Education at Barton College, Northeast Technical Assistance Center, Pitt County School, Bertie County Schools, Elizabeth City State University, and East Carolina University.  A major flaw was the lack of collaboration originally expected at the beginning of the study.  The institutions were expected to strengthen and build relationships between public school teachers, graduate students, and university faculty.  Independently, the institutions researched literature as they moved forward in the study.  It appeared that the institutions, even though they wanted to collaborate, did not collaborate in the true sense of the word.  They worked on the same project, at the same time, but independently.  For example, if you assign a project to four people and ask them to work together on a solution, but then you place the people in four separate rooms, is this working collaboratively?  No.  It is merely working on the same project, independently, and then compiling the data.

            The cycle of research began with the University Model Clinical Teaching Program (MCTP), in conjunction with the North Carolina State Department of Public Instruction, in that they identified the problem.  The Colleges of Education worked separately on the issue, then compiled the data to reach their conclusions.  The cycle was not apparent.

Data Analysis

            As the project participants worked on data to help in-service and pre-service teachers, they explored existing research related to diverse populations and the increase of student achievement.  The data was qualitative, in that the organizations made conclusions based on research, but did not indicate if surveys or interviews were used.  The data analysis method was not clear and decisive.  The study focused on the issues that needed to be solved and the conclusions, but lacked clear direction on how the participates achieved their results.

Connecting the Dots

            I found the results to be quite interesting, in that the answers were clear and common knowledge.  People, in small or large organizations, have trouble changing existing practices.  According to Bell & Munn (1996), “the end result should be increases in the effectiveness of decision making, in the monitoring of decisions and policies, and in the probability that errors and failures will be communicated openly and that actors will learn from the feedback” (p. 4).  The most effective teachers are those who demonstrated their ability to understand their culture, understand the stages of child/student development, and students consider the teacher to be a caring human being.  Common sense, but the study cemented the fact that we, as teachers, need to really care about the students, as people.  If that common bond and trust is not present, educators cannot get to the foundation of learning and student understanding (Bell & Munn, 1996). 

            Another interesting fact was the study found a generation gap, not surprising, between students and teachers; personal/cultural and popular knowledge that minority students possess conflicts with the personal/cultural and popular knowledge of administrators and teachers.  Usually, these things are ignored by administrators and faculty.  The lens of the teachers does affect the manner in which a teacher instructs students.  If a teacher grew up in a poor household, the lens in which they teach does alter the instruction.  The study is of great interest because it cements why I became a teacher.  To help all students, regardless of background or culture, and this study provided insight in why teachers do the things they do.  It allows me to reflect on why I am a teacher, where I want to be as a teacher, and the changes I want to make within myself. 

            My research, in the area of diverse classroom instruction, will improve after reading this study.  Understanding and utilizing research from all contributors enhances the scope of research.  Knowing that several educational institutions research the topic of the diverse classroom provides a solid foundation to move forward.  The biggest thing I learned from the study was the lack of education minority students received, mainly from lack of teacher training.  According to Bell & Munn, “the demographic and cultural differences between typical in-service and pre-service teachers and the culturally and economically diverse students whom they teach make multicultural teacher preparation a necessity if effective teaching is to become a reality.  Cultural discontinuities between the community and the school and lack of cultural relevance in instruction contribute to the lack of success that some members of minority groups experience in school.”

References

Bell, E.D. & Munn, G.C. (1996).  Preparing teachers for diverse classrooms:  A report on an

          action research project.  Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED401239.pdf

Hodgkinson, H.L. (1989).  The same client:  The demographics of education and service delivery

          systems.  Washington, DC:  Institute for Educational Leadership.

I'm Baccccccccck!

As you may have noticed, I am back after a 2 year hiatus.  No, I did not leave the program, but a technical glitch did derail my postings.  However, I will continue to share my experiences within my doctoral program.  Enjoy! 

Friday, February 4, 2011

New Blog, New Site

Thank you for your continued support.  I have moved my blog to the WordPress format at http://www.teddyklein.com/

Please visit my new site!!!!  See you there...

TJ Klein

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Incorporating Diversity and Ethical Standards in Student Conversations

In a perfect world, employees within any organization work together to solve common problems; however, leaders and subordinates go their separate ways, thus raising concerns about the positive pursuit of diversity. Common standards and efforts allow organizations to increase productivity, service all common customers/students, and fulfill diversity and ethical goals. Concerning universal purpose, such as student counseling, taking into account the diversity of students speaks directly to ethical standards of the counselor. In this blog entry the subject to discuss is a change plan for the Masters of Education in Administration and Supervision program (MAED/ADM), specifically assisting individual Teacher Education Specialist (TES), creating a set of talking points while incorporating diversity and ethical standards.

Diversity

Three counselors provide educational and program information to students, thus appropriate ethical standards causes mutual disagreements. Dissimilar circumstances among assorted students produce varying opinions on the appropriate shared information. All students who enter the MAED/ADM program receive a TES. The responsibility of the TES is to ensure the academic welfare of each student. Personal questions come up in conversation, thus counselors maintain mandatory ethical standards (Weber, 1993). Although in the planning stages, the set of talking points specifies what information each student receives during each call. Within the talking points, tips on diversity, cataloged by state, provide the TES with prompts. For example, if a TES speaks with a student in Arizona, the prompt provides specific information about Structured English Immersion. Students within the state have specific experience with diversity, Hispanic population, and the varying degrees of English Language Learners (ELL). The purpose of the prompt allows the TES to incorporate diversity topics within conversation. In the past, the TES would speak only to program requirements, without consideration for diversity issues. Since August 2010, ethical standards and student welfare are essential topics of discussion.

The change plan involves creation of talking points that keep counselors with varying degrees of experience, on track with students. Ethical relativism is inconsistent among counselors (Weber, 1993). When counseling education students, individual beliefs are not important, thus counselors should not impose his or her will on students. Academic counseling is fact-based, but personalizing the student experience increases student success, a quandary. Common talking points with students provide standard guidelines on the “right thing” to do within conservations with students. For example, three counselors provide guidance to students within the MAED/ADM program. All three counselors have varying degrees of experience. One counselor is a certified teacher with educational administration experience, whereas the other two have no education experience. Recorded conversations between the three counselors are vastly different. The change plan involves creation of talking points that help MAED/ADM counselors speak with students on a personal, ethical, informational, and educational level while taking into account the diverse nature of each student. TES’s take notes during the conservation and use these notes for future conversations.

Within the Stages of Concern, seven levels of concern occur when adopting a new practice (innovation): awareness, informational, personal, management, consequence, collaboration, and refocusing (Hall & Hord, 2001). Consideration given to innovation involves preoccupation, thought, and feelings. Prior knowledge, experiences, and personal makeup allow each TES to contend and perceive the student experience differently; thus the Stages of Concern help a TES to interpret each student contact, electronic or verbal. Student diversity and individual ethics vary, student by student. The TES maintains a professional, ethical demeanor. Dependent on circumstance, interpretation of individual students and counselors falls into the category of rewarding or threatening. A person’s “situatedness” translates to overwhelming joy for the knowledge received or a feeling of confusion and lack of information; thus affecting a student’s educational experience. Taking into account diversity and ethical standards provides the transitional bridge between a poor call and an amazing call with a MAED/ADM student.

Ethical Communication and Implementation

A set of talking points focuses the TES to a common objective or goal, self-paced while helping to build rapport with each student. Students demand information. In relation to that demand, counselors explore actions, risks, rewards, solutions, and potential barriers to satisfy the student’s need for information. Implementation of talking points, accessible during each call enables a TES to look at a set of questions with diversity prompts. The talking points, available electronically, and as a flipchart, increase the knowledge-base as of each TES. Counselors keep mental awareness within each student contact. The general feeling of the call includes questioning, analyzing, re-analyzing; inversely, counselors seek alternative actions and reactions, anticipating consequences while taking into account the diversity of each student experience. The manner that each counselor conveys speaks directly to their ethical prowess (Hall & Hord, 2001). Valentine and Fleishman (2002) say, “Individuals employed in organization that have an ethic code are more tolerant of diversity than are those employed in organizations that do not have an ethics code” (p. 302-303).

In this blog entry the subject to discuss was a change plan for the Masters of Education in Administration and Supervision program (MAED/ADM), specifically assisting individual Teacher Education Specialist (TES), creating a set of talking points while incorporating diversity and ethical standards. Ideally, the TES melds diversity topics, incorporating ethical standards that enable an increase in the quality ratio of university students; diverse, ethical, and quality conversations with individual students.

References

Hall, G. E., & Hord, S. M. (2001). Implementing change: Patterns, principles, and potholes (2nd ed.).  Boston, Massachusetts: Pearson.

Valentine, S., & Fleischman, G. (2002). Ethics Codes and Professionals' Tolerance of Societal Diversity.  Journal of Business Ethics, 40(4), 301-312. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Weber, L. J. (1993). Ethics and Praise of Diversity. Business Ethics Quarterly, 3(1), 87-96.  Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Grasping the Future

As an avid writer, I tend to write about my experiences at great length. Writing has always been a passion. This personal statement encompasses several areas of my past and current life. The elements of discussion include early influences for engagement in a doctoral program, level of preparedness and current higher education position, anticipated outcomes of the program, and life beyond the Ed. D in Teaching and Learning.

The Early Influences

During the 1980’s, the idea of pursuing a doctoral degree entered my teenage brain. High school was still a reality, the pursuit of something special began in a neighborhood bookstore. College entrance exams loomed, yet I found myself looking at graduate school reference guides. My father, a graduate of University of Michigan, provided an example of the necessary drive and determination to achieve greater things. The doctoral vision in my mind was that of a brown suit coat with elbow patches, a satchel, plaid scarf, worn blue jeans, and tattered brown shoes. The outfit was complete with an Indiana Jones styled hat; the vision complete. Material items and a doctoral education do not meld well. Something was missing. My abilities as a student were acceptable, but it was not until the 1990’s where my motivation and academic prowess began. The responsibilities of being a father provided the drive and push deserving of a doctoral learner.

My early years included many influences. Ernie Harwell, the Detroit Tigers radio announcer, provided audio accounts of summer-time baseball; the boys of summer. The summer evenings by the campfire fueled long academic conversations with my father, with Ernie Harwell’s voice in the background. He would teach and share stories of his academic experiences and how such achievements open doors to the future. I would listen and express my desire to one day be addressed as, Dr. Klein. My father’s response, “Will this degree make you happy? Other than being called, Dr. Klein, what drives you to want to achieve this amazing journey of scholarship?” At the time, I didn’t know.

Shortly thereafter, I went to college and experienced a freshman writing professor that introduced me to the book, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. As Ernie Harwell provided the audio dreamscape of my thoughts, the book provided a written storyboard about my dreams and aspirations. The book was rather dark and macabre, but the elements that stayed with me involved the stories of Lennie and George. They spoke of their dream to buy a piece of land. I share this dream. The passion in their voices of something greater moved me. These real world examples directed me to want something more, something greater for myself and my family.

Preparedness and Current Position

In 2001, I entered the field of education with a firestorm of passion and wanting something greater. My involvement in primary and intermediate education was a mere stepping stone for my ultimate goal of higher education. Paying my dues, learning everything I could about the inner workings of education provided a backdrop to my future in higher education. Currently, I work as an academic counselor at University of Phoenix. The Ed. D program in Teaching and Learning directly impacts my position within the university.

Doors open on a weekly basis because of my academic studies. Topics such as student retention, hiring of staff, and program changes have been introduced and refined as a student within the program. Knowledge is power, thus my academic career in K-12 and higher education brings a wealth of real world experience. The challenges within the program include conflicts between current workplace experiences and the research conducted. For example, on a weekly basis, decisions made within my department conflict with what I would do as a higher education administrator. Instead of thinking of it as a negative, I embrace the challenges. Observing the wrong way of doing things is just as valuable as the right way.

Anticipated Outcomes

Aspirations within the program include refinement in the areas of writing, research, and administration decision-making. Examples of scholarship, practice, and leadership appears daily during the workday. The program helps to open doors to potential teaching and leadership positions within the university. The position of Dean within the College of Education is a future goal. According to University of Phoenix (2010), "Our mission is to develop leaders who will create new models that explain, predict, and improve organizational performance. These leaders are scholar-practitioners who conduct research as a foundation for creative action, influence policy decisions, and lead diverse organizations through effective decision-making” (School of Advanced Studies Mission, para. 1-2). My goals not only include future academic positions, but conducting research with Argosy University, University of Phoenix, and other higher education institutions. Expanding the active research function within my workplace would allow an increase in the viability of the university.

The Future

The future is unexpected and challenging. As a scholar, academic surroundings and workplace elements change. My current position as an academic counselor does not offer growth potential. A position change is inevitable within student services because advanced degreed individuals occupy positions within academic affairs. Holding an Ed. D, adjunct and full-time faculty positions, as well as leadership opportunities become available. Toastmasters International, National Educational Association, American Educational Research Association, and Arizona Educational Research Organization provide interaction among public schools, universities, and community colleges. Staying current with educational issues provides the needed fuel for academic discussion and research (Arizona Educational Research Organization, 2010).

Conclusion

Reflection is a necessary part of growth as a scholar. This personal reflection encompassed several areas of my past and current life. The elements of discussion included early influences for engagement in a doctoral program, level of preparedness and current higher education position, anticipated outcomes of the program, and life beyond the Ed. D in Teaching and Learning program.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Organizational Communication

Within my extremely large educational institution, communication flows at a decent pace. Once a major decision is made, higher up, it flows down in a rather timely manner. Once it reaches the lower levels, mid-level and lower-level managers take this information and distribute it to respective employees. Several forms and types of communication exist within the organization: email, Adobe Connect, instant messaging, Share Point Sites, Internet sites, and telephone.

The basic forms of communication like email and telephone are self explanatory. The other types are amazing, such as Adobe Connect. This allows real time communication, using presentation software that involves creation of workgroups and chat. It replaces the concept of everyone driving to one place to meet, very efficient. Our organization does use instant messaging as a major form of communication, surprised? Many counselors and education professionals are with students on a daily basis, but answers are needed very quickly, instant messaging allows you to communicate with one student while taking care of another issue, very convenient.

Leadership with my organization emerges when there is a problem. In the past, they tended to put out fires instead of lead. Just recently, with the many for-profit changes on the horizon, they have come to the forefront to provide leadership. A great thing! But, why does it take a crisis for them to show up to the party? Maybe the crisis could have been avoided if that leadership was available in the beginning. Previously, the focus of leadership was on expansion, hiring of new employees, creating new programs, and enrolling students. But, the goal was lost in translation. Existing students were not getting what they needed, thus they left the university. Previously, if one student left the university, the concept was to replace that student with two more. Nothing lost, right? Wrong! Instead of focusing on creating an amazing academic program that would make students proud, the university graduated students at a NASCAR pace. A positive leadership focus has arrived and is here to stay, I truly believe their intentions. Upper-level, middle-level, and lower-level managers appear to be working toward the same page.