And we’re off

wow, 580+ days since I have blogged, probably can’t consider blogging a habit, yet. So what have I been doing? 

Moved from Cairns to Brisbane.

Changed jobs.

Almost changed jobs again (I came second).

Settled into inner city living.

Discovered lots of restaurants for brunch and dinner.

Developed a great fitness regime. 

Ran my first 10 k.

Ran my first half marathon.

Wrecked my dodgy knees.

Lost a great fitness regime.

Travelled to NZ, Thailand (twice), Sydney all for fun.

Organised finances and even submitted my tax – twice.

Started sending Tweets.

Discovered Foucault ( bet you didn’t even realise that he was lost)

Sent off my Confirmation of Candidature transfer paper. 

Ok, so now everything is up to date! See I haven’t just been sitting around playing ‘Three’ and ‘2048’, although I did plenty of that, too. 

I’ve always planned to use this blog as my public research diary. I’d planned to write in it regularly, as is the way with diaries, to assist in my reflexivity process. But each time I thought about a topic and structured the text in my head, teased out the key points, determined the style, tone – it would get so big I never even opened the page. I like to get things right, not just correct (although, partial to that, too). Yep, I’m very partial to ‘right’. 

Just to make it clear before you think that I am a total control freak, pedant obsessed neurotic dipstick (and as my sister will never likely discover this blog, and my favourite daughter likes visiting for food, no one should contradict me here) – I don’t mean right as in no mistakes. Mistakes, oops moments, move us along, they are often funny and we can all do with a good laugh! I mean ‘wrong’ but sometimes I get caught up in ‘not perfect’.

I battle with the intertwining of ‘right’ and ‘perfect’. And the battle often prevents the writing of blogposts, the starting of conversations, challenges avoided all because I may not get it right/perfect. I tried hard to make sure my children were confident risk takers (note to favourite son – limit the risk taking when travelling in South America!). And they are – they are right and perfect and their belief in me and their ability to teach my lessons back to me have been soul strengthening. 

So this is a mishmash blog, it’s not structured, it is an ’empty brain cache’ post to restart the research journal. I’m hoping for more regular posts (Yes. More that one per 586 days). I’m hoping for a theme for each one. But I am positive that there will be many simple ’empty brain cache’ posts along the way. I would love to develop into a blogger like the Thesis Whisperer, but I’m more aiming for ‘confirmed candidate’ status. Did you notice the last item on the list above? 13 days to go until my presentation for confirmation of candidature. 

Time to click send (only checked this once, so may have spelling grammatical errors – hope world keeps turning, if not, sorry about that).

Time to prepare for my presentation.
 

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Looking but not finding :( or :)

I can’t seem to find what I want (yes, I may be pouting).  I’m halfway through a second book by Fullan on educational change. The first one, The New Meaning of Educational Change (4th ed, 2007), I left a sticky note saying “I’m having trouble with Fullan”, which seemed slightly heretical. It may have been because of his focus on improving student outcomes. Don’t get me wrong, that is a very fine focus to have. I have no problem with his focus (I’m sure he’s relieved), it is an excellent focus. And yes the ultimate goal in education for all levels and perspectives is or should be improved student outcomes, especially in the three areas that Fullan discusses of literacy, numeracy and well being. But (you knew there was going to be a ‘but’), I’m having difficulty with regarding teachers and school-based personnel as separate to ‘the system’. It seems to be a point of view within some of his writing. If that is the case system-wide changes will have no bearing on what goes on in a school. And great things that are happening in a particular school, if it is not acknowledged as being part of the system, will have no influence over improving another school – OMG 

So how do we create a system in which school-based, regional and central personnel are all recognized members and acknowledge their own and others’ membership? Do not ask for whom the school bell tolls. It tolls for thee.

Back to focus, my focus is further back and at the same time beyond student outcomes as it looks at the management tools of the system (school to government inclusive). To determine what changes are needed, we need to look at the data, to look at the data we need a process and tools, and we need personnel to be capable at all levels and in all areas of using those processes and tools. 

So I’m finding some of what I need to build my knowledge in these early days of my Ph.D as I plough through the literature trying to clarify my research question, from search criteria such as Systems Analysis, Change Management from a business perspective, Knowledge & Information Systems rather than works by Fullan and Hargreaves, even though my perspective is firmly in and from education. Now this possible disconnect could be arising from two circumstances – 

1. I have no idea what I’m doing and my journey through the fog of early Ph.D’dom is heading down the boggy path towards the sludgy bottom of the quagmire where there is a card saying ‘return to go’.

2. I am looking for a hypothosized combination of ideas and concepts that have not been created previously for an educational perspective – that would be seriously cool. Because to me that’s worth a Ph.D thesis! So instead of becoming glum as I don’t find what I’m looking for I should be getting excited when I find the knowledge and theory that I can mashup for my own tune. 

 

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The unarticulated obvious

Reading Michael Fullen – as one does when looking at educational change I was struck by the blindingly obvious. But before I get to that, another skipped given was reading Fullen.

My supervisor had been trying very hard to prompt me to say his name in one of our first meetings, as he asked me who I had been reading in the early days (hours) of my PhD journey. As my topic was deeply snuggled into the educational change nest, Fullen was an obvious choice. But I hadn’t even thought of adding his name to my research terms. Why? It seemed so ‘bleedin’ obvious’, once said, I mean working for Education Queensland you could hardly miss the name. It was a classic moment of not knowing that you know. I spoke Andy Hargreaves name, but then I’d met him – well I was in the audience when he presented at the international Principals’ conference in Cairns in 2013. Hard to forget the push up demonstration to illustrate what occurs when all countries focus on being in the top 3 for PISA – not a demonstration that Andreas Schleicher repeated when he spoke a day later, shame really.

On reading the introduction to Fullen’s, The new meaning of educational change, I was struck by the realization that nowhere have I mentioned that the sustainable change that I am aiming to determine processes to create in rural and remote educational settings should be geared towards improvement of student outcomes. At first I read over the words, ‘achieve continuous improvement’, then I went back and questioned what was special about them. ‘Ah ha’, love those ‘ah ha’ moments even if they occur and you want to smack your head against a brick wall – it was significant because nowhere have I recorded that basic concept – that it was change that improved student outcomes that I wanted to promote.

Of course that realization was rapidly followed by the rapid backing away from the whole area of determining what improved student outcomes! It will of course (now I’ve thought of it), be intertwined with the concept of feedback to improve policy and processes to implement change. I do wonder what else I don’t know I know and wonder how I determine such information – possibly nailing the questions.

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On your mark; Get set; Wait

On your mark…
So many beginnings prior to getting to the starting mark of commencing my PhD:
– brought up with a love of learning
– decided at 5 years old to become a teacher
– became a teacher at 20 years old
– question much of how we do business in education
– watched those with puffy hats walk in the processional when my son graduated and decided that I wanted a puffy hat!
– rejected by a uni when I applied for a Grad Cert in research as preparation – on the grounds my 30 year old grades were not high enough (And no, I am not over that although blowing raspberries at their sign every time I drive past, helps.)
– blitzed my Masters of Education, even though my GPA of 6.4 doesn’t beat my daughter’s ( Yes, we are competitive – ever met a mother/daughter who aren’t?)
– applied to apply for my PhD
– requested a supervisor
– chatted with supervisor
– invited to apply
– applied
– met with supervisor
– currently waiting for the official starting gun

Get set…
So while I wait for the starters gun, there are things I feel I need to do to get things set:
– read about starting a PhD and decipher some of the jargon, the differences in USA, UK, Europe and Australia, the differences in faculties
– pin all sorts of infographics, cartoons, memes and words of wisdom regarding a PhD (yes, I also found some great travel and Christmas pins along the way.)
– find and follow some supportive, informative Twitter feeds
– decide if my Twitter account is going to be for personal, professional or academic use (ongoing decision process)
– follow supportive, informative blogs on both thesis creation, PhD journeys and my topic (difficult until I nail the topic)
– start my own blog to record the story of my next few(?) years (this would be it – Not that kind of Doctor – yes I’m a Doctor Who fan)
– determine which online tools I’ll keep from my Masters and professional experiences and which I’ll switch
– determine pre-reading on methodology, build on knowledge from Masters
– consider the many aspects of my initial question

GO:
Not yet – I’ll let you know

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