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CARN paper on action research as professional development

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This presentation was made to CARN and contains information on the use of action research for professional development for teachers and principals in schools. For more information see: …

This presentation was made to CARN and contains information on the use of action research for professional development for teachers and principals in schools. For more information see: http://www.ar4everything.com

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  • I put this here because as a trainer and person working with staff development I have been frequently dismayed at the low rate new ideas “stick” in educators and in their schools. The outcomes here were vastly different
  • Give examples of services – free lunch, supplies, special education, etc.
  • Mention need to have measureable academic data
  • Transcript

    • 1. A mixed methodological study of whether and in what ways PAR is efficacious for educators developing new practices for homeless or transient students in the United States E. Alana James, Ed.D. http://www.ar4everything.com http://www.ealanajames.com
    • 2. Purpose
      • The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of PAR methodology:
      • As a tool to engage both administrators and teachers
      • As a process of professional development through which to address issues of educational disadvantage
      • The discussion will conclude by asking whether and to what extent educators in the study improved their educational practice for homeless and highly mobile students in the United States?
    • 3. Context and Background
      • Homeless (H) children may periodically live out of their parent’s car or sleep on a friend’s couch (sofa) – there are approximately 1.5 million homeless children in the United States. A recent study of homeless street youth showed that some had attended as many as 19 schools .
      • Highly mobile (HM) or transient children attend two or more schools each school year and have been shown to be at high risk for dropping out (leaving early). There is no way to measure the size of this population.
    • 4. All students are affected
      • Because schools in the US are not on the same curricular schedule, moving from school to school is like surfing waves of educational strategy – these students frequently end up years behind their peers in literacy and comprehension (Rumberger 2003).
      • Studies have shown that in urban areas any given cohort of students may change more than 50 % of their population every five years (Kerbow, 2003).
    • 5. 50% of the US has moved in the last five years
      • Yet educational practice has not changed to meet this challenge and pre-service preparation continues to prepare teachers as though they will be able to practise their classroom management strategies in a stable school environment.
    • 6. Would the PAR process work?
    • 7. The Participatory Group
    • 8.
      • Seventeen educators – 9 administrators
      • Representing:
      • 1 homeless shelter ,
      • 1 charter high school (ages 14-18)
      • 2 middle schools (ages 11-13),
      • 1 multi level school (grades 4 - 19)
      • 4 elementary schools (ages 4- 10)
      Participants:
    • 9. Their context:
      • Schools that were in: rural (1) , small towns (3), suburban areas (3), urban (3)
        • Rural = 120 students in 13 grades - population less than 1,000
        • Small town = 75,000 people or less
        • Urban population = 1.5 - 3 million
        • Suburban = industrial or residential community clustered next to urban population
    • 10. Measurement:
      • Implemented a primarily qualitative mixed methods design
      • Used variables derived from the research:
      • Greenwood and Levin (AR as a method to engage with social issues),
      • Zuber Skerritt (AR as professional development),
      • Paolo Friere (qualitites of participatory and emancipatory groups)
      • Open and selectively coded data
      • Verified outcomes through triangulation with final administrator and teacher focus groups
    • 11. Data rich environment
        • Reflective memos collected monthly
        • Survey on engagement
        • In depth interviews – pre and post
        • Their final reports
        • Email correspondence
        • * Focus groups, administrators and teachers
    • 12. Results: PAR and Engagement
      • Started the process overwhelmed, frequently admitting that if not for the stipend “they would not have finished”
      • After six months
      • 82% had demonstrated engagement through action.
        • 70.6% engaged in issues pertaining to welcoming school culture
        • 70.6% also engaged in developing flexible instructional strategies but with fewer examples
        • 52.9% with increasing access to educational services
    • 13. Results: Professional development
      • Framework for research and action that enhanced participant’s capacity to address the issues they studied.
      • Process of reviewing data and theory with other educators to plan action = a feeling of their own expertise.
      • Difficult challenge s in personal research = pride in their results .
      • Healthy dissatisfaction with the issue = The greatest increase in capacity
    • 14. What practical changes resulted?
      • Educators increased the access H&HM students had to services (8)
      • They worked at making their school cultures more welcoming and inclusive (9)
      • They increased the flexibility of their educational practice (2)
    • 15. Access to Services – their research
      • What services were H&HM involved in?
      • Had services been offered?
      • What prevented attendance?
      • What could increase H&HM attendance/participation in school?
      • Were appropriate services offered soon enough?
      • What was the impact of those services?
    • 16. Welcoming school culture
      • Opened a parent welcoming centre (1)
      • Developed a “lunch bunch” group so highly mobile or transient students could make friends and discuss their experience in school (2)
      • Researched how students were greeted and the ways in which they learned about the school (2)
      • Interviewed parents enrolling students mid year (3)
      • Transmitted more information to teachers (5)
    • 17. Flexible Instructional Strategies
      • Flexible instructional strategies are something that everybody strives for all kids, you have to differentiate, it is not an easy thing to do.
      • Teacher changed poetry in her reading curriculum to include poems about homelessness. Motivation to memorize the poems soared.
      • At the end of the school year her homeless students had excelled in this curricula four times the expected growth.
    • 18. Conclusion
      • PAR methodology created the holding environment necessary to allow them to engage in these issues without being uncomfortable (Heifetz, 2000)
    • 19. Did they improve educational practice?
      • They say their practice was much improved:
        • Poised to welcome new students
        • Understand and are able to address situations that involve meeting a student’s primary needs such as food, clothing and supplies
        • Have increased empathy to student’s challenges
        • Have implemented new practices
    • 20. Lack of student level outcomes
      • Only one study showed student level outcomes- that of the teacher who increased her reading scores an average of 300 lexiles for her H&HM students on a curriculum known for an average of 75 lexiles
      • Recommendation to improve facilitation to focus on the attainment of student level outcomes
    • 21. Epilogue
      • During the 2005-2006 school year 46 participants from four states (Colorado, Texas, Arkansas and Virginia) are participating in a similar study using web-based PAR methodology.
      • They each are responsible for:
        • Completing an individual project for which they receive a stipend of $1,000. Each participate in:
          • A local team of an administrator (mostly principals), a teacher and a community member
          • Two online Communities of Practice (CoPs) using web based forums of communication.
    • 22. More information:
      • www.crsllc.org/resources/html = the pdf for the book done by the participants in the first study
      • http://www.ar4everything.com
      • http://www.ealanajames.com
      • [email_address]

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