E-flections of an Educator

Pulling It All Together and Staying the Course

Posted on: July 16, 2009

I met with my dissertation adviser today. We talked about my progress to date, and what I need to do to graduate in May. She was so encouraging! We also made and signed my dissertation credit contract for Fall 2009. Tasks to be accomplished to “pass” this term:

  • Final draft of Chapter 1 (theoretical framework)
  • Final draft of Chapter 2 (literature review)
  • Draft of Chapter 3 (method)
  • Work on data analysis
  • Meet with chair at least twice

Chapters 1 & 2 are in pretty good shape; I just need to take out what is no longer relevant, and add a section on CBAM and Stages of Concern. Chapter 3, according to my adviser, is “easy” because you just write what you did. I have my data (well most of it…more on that later) so I just need to dig in.

A little about my study:

Working title: “The impact of coaching on teacher efficacy and stages of concern of teachers implementing an educational innovation.”

Operational definitions:

  • coach–a peer (non-supervisory relationship) with expert knowledge
  • innovation–something a teacher has a) never done before; b) partially implemented; or c) previously implemented and abandoned for any reason.


Here’s the gist of the case study: Voluntary participants self-selected an innovation to implement in their classrooms. Half worked with a coach for implementation support. TSES & SoCQ were administered before, at the mid-point and at the end of the 10-week implementation cycle. All teachers submitted weekly reflections following the AAR format.

I know what I have to do, now I just have to do it! I would be remiss if I did not give a hat tip to Dr. Leslie Good for recommending a great book, Completing Your Qualitative Dissertation: A Roadmap From Beginning to End. I wish I’d had it sooner, but it’s been a great tool to help me organize my thinking and plan of attack to get my dissertation done. (Note to any higher ed folk–this book needs to be on your course bibs for doc students!)

My biggest problem right now is focus, and I’m interested in some ideas. What do you do to help you focus? How do you balance and/or “block out” other responsibilities and facets of your life? Please comment!

Tschannen-Moran, M & Woolfolk Hoy, A. (2001). Teacher efficacy: Capturing an elusive construct. Teaching and Teacher Education, 17, 783-805.

6 Responses to "Pulling It All Together and Staying the Course"

Hi Linda 🙂
Thanks for inviting us into your process;your dissertation sounds very interesting! I can totally relate to the challenges of staying focused when working toward important goals, especially with regards to those involving writing.
One thing I know helps me focus is getting a good 30-40 minute exercise session to stimulate my brain and calm down the worries/stresses that seem to arise when I have to write. Another is to divide my goals in to manageable parts for daily accomplishment. Using SMART goals it’s easy to build momentum. I also make sure I cross off what I have done on a checklist.. that way I really feel spurred on to continue.
Good luck and I look forward to hearing about your successful completion!

Hi Joan,

Great tips! I did join a gym last week, so I’m doing something right! Great suggestion about using SMART goals http://www.topachievement.com/smart.html and checklists. With such a large project, it seems overwhelming; the to-do list is so long that you can feel defeated before you even start! So if I break it down into chunks via goals, and create lists for each goal, it will help the project to be manageable. Thanks for stopping by!

Hi Linda and congratulations for getting to this point! I’ve found that doing what you are doing – writing about your process online and inviting comments – is helpful. The more we stay with the process, the more we can trust it 🙂

The exercise idea from Joan is a great one as well. We forget how much a part our bodies play in the thinking and creating process.

Other than that, when it comes to finishing large bodies of writing, I pin this quote up on my wall:

Langston Hughes
…the only way to get a thing done is to start to do it, then keep on doing it, and finally you’ll finish it…

[…] The other day I wrote a post outlining my dissertation, and thinking about what needs to be done so I can graduate in May of 2010. I received some great […]

[…] Last week I wrote a few posts (here, here & here) about my dissertation progress and plans to graduate in May, 2010. In one of the […]

[…] is a case study consisting of nine participants. (For more details about my study you can go here.) I am presently working on chapter 4, data analysis. I am in somewhat of a quandary as to how to […]

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