All posts by katelynnwalkersthesisjourney

Mapping Out The “Break”

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Looking back on how much I have accomplished this semester… I could have done more. I think that is the nature of a writer. Always thinking about how much we could have or should have done.

Despite the feeling of “regret” I am looking forward to a manageable course load next semester. Over the break I plan on drafting the final essays for my thesis project. I have the first six drafts, minus that one pesky section on the child study team, which leaves two final drafts of chapters seven and eight. With no other distractions I think that I will be able to get these drafts done before the spring semester.

I have ten days off from work, but four of those days are considered holidays so I will not be working on those days. It would be great to get essay seven done over break and then complete essay eight the first two weeks of the new year. Since I was able to get the outlines mapped out during my work in progress presentation it should be easy to work on these chapters in sections and then put them all together. I want to map out a time schedule each day to dedicate to writing. I need a writing chair or desk at my house to get into the zone. Home Goods here I come!

The only other thing I would like to do over break is scan my essays for teacher lingo or vocabulary to create my glossary. I will do this at the end of essay eight. It would be nice to have the entire body of work printed out to annotate for vocabulary and typos. This will also let me see where I can insert quotes.

I have not done any work to my literature review this semester so this will be a two or maybe three fold task. I will be scanning for vocabulary, do a light editing, and also marking off where to insert research or data to support my claims.

Getting these tasks completed by the start of spring semester will allow me to work on one essay per week. With these tasks out of the way I can edit one essay a week and build my new literature review. I want to include one or two sources per essay which will give me eight to 16 sources for my literature review. I have all my tangible sources gathered in a dusty pile in dining room. I will dust off the resources and support all my claims in the spring. Giving myself this eight to ten week revision period will allow me to spend some time with my sister on creating a final product that is visually appealing and marketable.

These are my hopes for break and I believe it is manageable.

Thank you for a great semester Dr. Zamora.

Filling in More Gaps

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A little time away from school was a much needed break and allowed for some additional time to write. I spent a few periods, one to two hour spans, writing and editing a few missing sections.

I have completed essays one thru three and moved into essay four. I was able to fill in two sections completely – “Intervention and Referral Services (I&RS)” and “Individualized Education Plans (IEP),  PLEPS, and IEP Meetings.”

I am currently working on a section titled “Child Study Team (CST)” and then essay four will be tentatively complete. I should have this section completed by class on Wednesday.

I am feeling the pressures of the end of semester submissions, but I am not trying to get carried away with the doom and gloom anxiety of not having it all done. I am less stressed for thesis progress than my other course’s final project(s), but I will get it all done. I have a tentative outline of what I want to complete by the due dates, and I think it will work.

I plan on having essay four done by or in class on Wednesday.

Friday I will be completing the Language of Racial and Ethnic Identity Critical Controversy paper… by Friday I mean at least by Sunday night. This will leave me with two full weeks to complete my creative project. I will be using all the time to submit this assignment Dec 20th! I will not be submitting any work early.

The week of the 6th I will be gathering all of my work for the thesis semester into one organized folder for submission. I know I did not work on my literature review this semester, but I did work greatly on the organization of my thesis and completed the first six essays. I feel I have set myself up for a manageable course load next semester.

There is light at the end of the semester tunnel. I am still in the dark, but I can see the light switch.

Filling in the Gaps

Happy Thanksgiving Y’all!

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I am working my way through my essays and filling in all the gaps. This process takes a bit more time than expected because naturally I tend to start revising other sections instead of just filling in the one gap and moving on.

I have worked my way back through the first three essays and added in three full subsections, revised two additional sections, and I am happy with the way they turned out. Below I included the two new outlines for the essays and bolded the edited and added sections.

Essay four will be filled in with three more subsections (Intervention and Referral Services (I&RS), Child Study Team (CST), and Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and Meetings) and then I will finally be ready to move on to essays 7 and 8. I am feeling like I am making some progress. I am looking forward to filling in the rest of the gaps and then filling in the remaining chapters. Essay four will be done tomorrowish.

Essay 1: Physically and Emotionally Building an Interpersonal Classroom Outline

Physical Space

Freedom to Move Around 

Desk Arrangement and Student Groups

Class Participation

Head Space (mental health check-ins)

Classroom Management 

Flexibility (prepare for the unexpected, space for the unknown, “emergence”)

Traveling Teacher Tips (advocating for space, surveying the classrooms before first day, teacher bag)

Essay 3: Assessing Students

Co-Teaching

Data Analysis 

Grading Rubrics 

Preassessments 

Formative Assessments 

Overview of Student Growth Objective (SGOs)

Meaningful Feedback

Reteaching

Check-ins 

Looking Forward to Writing Time

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Dear Time,

Please stop moving so quickly.

Sincerly,

Someone Trying to Find You

I am so grateful for the working time that Dr. Zamora has built into our class schedule. I keep running out of time during the week and on the weekends to get it all done. Despite the constant reminders to take our time and to keep chipping away at our work, I still feel pressure to finish everything right now.

I am looking forward to working before class and in class this Wednesday. Last week I was able to fill in a few more sections of my work and found a few spaces to fill in my most resent vent about areas in need of improvement within the field of education.

At the end of my first essay I added in two sections titled, “Flexibility” and “Traveling Teacher Tips.” These two sections give hints to the reader about some of the unpredictability future educators will encounter within the classroom. I gently tell the truth and toss in a few subtle jabs to the people who are setting the rules for the classroom from rooms well outside of the classroom. The classroom has changed so much since I started this project…I am thinking that this document may need to be a living, breathing document that exists on the internet somewhere safe and cozy for burnt out teachers.

My students keep pushing me to finish my book so that they can read a copy of it, why they would want to read a teaching guide, I don’t know, but they are also encouraging me to create a teaching TikTok. I am opposed to at the moment, but I feel like I will cave soon because it will be a useful tool for advertising and sharing helpful tips with future educators. I am too busy at the moment, however I will be looking into creating a content page with tips, tricks, and stories about teaching.

How punny – I don’t have time for a TikTok. Man I feel old.

Filling in the Gaps

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After tinkering with my outline and attempting to fill in the gaps in my essays, I have come to an impasse. I have a roadblock in my thought process due to the injustices I have been seeing, feeling, and experiencing since the return to in-person learning in September.

Dr. Zamora suggested writing out the problem and adding in these truths to sections where they fit, while also keeping the scope of this project in mind. I have been wrestling with my thought process verses my actual productivity on this project since last Wednesday. My thought process has been rather negative, but also productive in terms of creating a realistic teaching guide for young educators who are brave enough to enter the field of education in the near future. I have been taking notes and talking to fellow educators about the pros and cons I see in the classroom, our school system, and professional development initiatives that are being mandated in our area and around the country.

Once I write out the mental block, channeling my Peter Elbow centering through focused free-writing, I will see where these issues fit. During my conference with Dr. Zamora we discussed fitting in the realistic state of teaching in as an introduction or possibly as a section within essay eight about post pandemic teaching.

I want to write a realistic account of the programs that are being put into place, and then share what happens to prevent these programs from being successful. While I am writing this blog I am seeing space for some of this “reality rant” in essay four which discusses various intervention methods and strategies that are falling short right now. I will be able to include some of the problems or short comings with the programs that are in place right now. Hopefully, being honest upfront will allow teachers to be proactive when selecting a support or intervention program for their students.

While sounding a bit pessimistic, I feel that there is hope in getting a first hand narrative about the state of teaching now and giving teachers tools that can help them get a hold of their profession and classroom. I plan on spending tomorrow afternoon writing out my issues with the current state of teaching in a mini-rant/vent and then getting an hold of where I want to add in the knowledge within my body of work.

Slow Motion Progress

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This was a very slow week in terms of tangible progress on my thesis project. I spent a bit more time editing my outline and I spent a lot of time thinking about the sections that I have in place now and sections that I may want to add after I complete the drafts of chapter 7 & 8 .

The space in between writing this week was very reflective. This year I have been put in a position to observe quite a bit of “action” in the halls of the high school. I have been pulled out of the classroom period 10 to monitor a girls bathroom. Yes, I said I was pulled from my intervention work 5 days a week to scan students into a bathroom. This experience has been rather eye opening and has me taking a lot of mental notes about student behavior, student needs, and student patterns.

While in the halls for five hours a week I get to spend a lot of time talking to students, mostly the “trouble makers” and I am noticing what causes them to get kicked out of class. As a high school teacher I have mastered the art of befriending the hallway kids, an affectionate term for kids who spend a lot of time in the halls, in order to make my life easier and to maintain a distraction free classroom while I am teaching in my room. I am spending a lot of time talking with them about what makes an effective classroom environment for them and what the like about teachers. These are rather informal conversations and I allow my hallway friends to vent naturally while I try to help them problem solve and calm down before going to an administrator or back to class.

In addition to getting me to think about student patterns, I have become increasingly aware of the system of education and how it can help or hurt students if it is not thoughtfully constructed.

We have partnered with Kean’s Restorative Justice movement as well and… I am thinking about how we are restoring justice at our school.

During this week of reflection I am trying to make sure that I am including everything I want to say in the moment and not stretching myself in too many different areas for the particular product/project.

Work in Progress Feedback

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Thank you peers!

It was so refreshing to get positive and constructive feedback on my work thus far. I took notes on everything that was said during the presentation of my work and I am going to revise my project based off the suggestion from my peers and Dr. Zamora.

Here is a brief list of what I will be changing/modifying over the next few weeks:

Adding an author’s preface with explanation of works referenced in my book

Adding a notable sources document with links to open resources or suggestions to works that one can buy for reference

Adding Flexibility and Traveling Teacher Tips sections to chapter 1

Adding I&RS and CST sections to chapter 4

Switching the order and outlines of of chapter 7 and 8 (see below)

Essay 7: How tracking impacts teacher performance in the classroom – Need to Draft

Observations

Discussions in the teacher’s lounge

Discussions with students during RTI

My Own Experience with Teaching Various Tracked Classes

Research from literature review

Essay 8: Post-Pandemic Teaching – Need to Draft

Self-Reflection from Teacher’s Perspective (beginning to ending)

Virtual-Hybrid-Back to “Normal”

Teacher Anxiety about Return to Virtual-Hybrid  

What are the kids bringing back to the school from the virtual learning period?

Culture Shock 

Retraining Students

            Breaking Bad Habits/Honoring Good Ones

            Students Self-Advocacy

            Toxic Positivity on Students and Teachers

            Trauma Informed Practices – Research to Support Learning

What is the Learning Gap? – Research to Support Learning

Strategies for Bridging the Gap – Research to Support Learning

Teacher Self-care Strategies

Adding a glossary of teaching jargon

I am looking forward to making these changes over the next few weeks and having a better flow to my project. I did not write this week, I made edits to my outline, and will be adding in the missing sections in class on Wednesday. I want to draft chapter 7 the following week and 8 the next week (if I can make it work time wise).

Thank you again for all of your advice.

Ready for Feedback

First, thank you Dr. Zamora for listening to my request for flexible writing time and allowing me to take a breath this weekend. I was able to get so much work done in class last week and also had the ability to rest my eyes and brain a bit more this weekend. I feel like this extra hour to hour and a half each week is exactly what I need to get through the semester. I am looking forward to the spring semester when I can really just focus on this course.

I am presenting my work in progress this week so I will share a bit of the introduction here. While reviewing my essays, I am noticing that I am in major need of a revision period. So I am taking a play out of the Kelsey Carter handbook and printing out a section of my work to read and discuss with the class. I am looking forward to great feedback and suggestions.

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Title and Objective of Thesis –

The Other 175 Days The New Teacher’s Guide to Creating an Interpersonal Classroom

By Kate Lynn Walker

After the first few days of school, this book will guide new teachers through their first years of teaching. There are many books, as the title alludes to about The First Days of School by Harry Wong, but there are not many books about making it through the entire school year. Through my professional development and research there are even fewer books that focus on managing and creating an interpersonal high school classroom. This thesis project is a bridge between a literature review and a teacher’s first-hand experience in the classroom.

Goal of Inquiry: 

  •  to calm the nerves of first year teachers
  •  to inspire teachers to give students-controlled freedom 
  •  to share what works with my fellow educators 
  •  to allow students to grow in supportive classrooms
  •  to guide teachers towards helpful research in the field of secondary education

Questions for Peers –

1. If you are a teacher, what fears did you have about entering the classroom as a first-year teacher? Or what struggles have you encountered during your first years of teaching? If you are not a teacher, what fears could you imagine having entering the classroom in today’s world?

2. I have only drafted the essays in a print format. What ideas do you have about creating a sellable/distributable product? Digital with hyperlinks? Paperback workbook with perforated pull-outs?  

3. I am trying to find a way to incorporate research without distracting from my narrative voice… suggestions? I have been thinking of making the book look like a magazine or high school textbook with my written text starting on the left margin and filling the right margin with images, quotes from professionals, charts, graphics, etc. What other ideas do you have?

A Day Away

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Last Wednesday I made the decision to stay at school to work on my thesis writing instead of wasting time commuting to and from Kean for back to school night… This was an eye opening experience for me and I think I will need to do this again when it comes closer to producing a final product and also working on essays for my other course.

The news and social media are filled with images, memes, and constant reminders of teacher burn out and the need for self-care and I think staying away to get work done from time to time is what I need to do to be successful this semester.

Last week I was able to re-read and revise essay 5 and get most of essay 6 written. I was not able to find complete solitude, but I stayed in my classroom with two coworkers and I was able to bounce wording and ideas off of them in real time. I read, revised, and wrote for nearly two hours and felt like I had accomplished so much more in my classroom than I am capable of doing on campus.

Within my classroom I was able to find inspiration to write about being in the classroom. I worked on my SEL chapter and read short sections of my work to my co-workers, Nicole and Dana. Nicole is an experienced teacher and Dana is a first year teacher, so it was nice to have two different POVs on my writing.

Coming into this semester I thought that class time would be dedicated to working on our thesis writing, however, for me it seems to be more of a team building experience. I thoroughly enjoy the team building and camaraderie, but I need to make the most of the time that I do have available to get work done. I am finding it very difficult to get work done on the weekends and during the week in addition to work, my elective, and trying to maintain some sort of life outside of school and work.

Moving forward I am going to take some time away to get work done. Wednesdays and Thursdays are my school days and I need to do what is best and most productive for me.

Holding Myself Accountable

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Carving out quality writing time is more important than any other activities right now. I am getting into a routine of writing for about an hour and a half on Mondays, a half hour on Tuesdays, and an hour or so on Wednesdays.

This Wednesday is back to school night. I will be opting to stay at school to avoid the crazy traffic back and forth from work to school, to back to work, and then work to home. I will save myself precious commuting time and be able to focus my attention on my project. Instead, I am going to focus on finding a quiet hiding spot in my classroom to carve out at least two solid hours of writing time…A task I have yet to complete since the beginning of the semester. I will have from 3PM – 6PM to write, eat, and energize before meeting my student’s wonderful parents.

During this time I plan on completing essay 6 of my teaching guide and editing both chapters 5 and 6. I have 5 drafted so far and I have half of essay 6 written. I think that this is a goal that I can adhere to as long as my door stays locked. I will be putting my headphones in and sitting away from the door of my classroom. It is really hard to find a quiet place at work that is free from people who seem to have a lot more time to talk than I do… hmmm. I must be doing something wrong.

I hope you all have a great class on Wednesday night. Good luck on your presentation Amber! I’ll see most of you on Thursday. Happy Writing All!