Blog #2

We are currently in the data collection phase of our research. As of right now, I am interviewing interviewees using a semi structured approach. I currently have a list of questions that each correspond with the schema. As I move along through the interviews, I take notes and record the conversation. I have currently secured the interviews of nearly half of the original 20. I am working to have those interviews scheduled so that I can start analyzing the results as soon as possible.

From the data I have collected thus far I have gained an interesting perspective on perceptions of school safety and discipline in schools. One of the most interesting aspects I gained from doing my interviews is that teachers and other school staff are aware of safety and discipline issues that occur. From the interviews that I have conducted, it does not seem that this is a problem that people do not understand is occurring. However, from what I have gathered it seems as though some schools lack in professional development and adequate training. The school personnel who I have interviewed expressed the fact that there needs to be more training if any employees are going to be able to reduce their negative contributions to the school-to-prison pipeline.

One of the main questions that I have from the research that I have conducted thus far is that if we are aware that teachers are contributing to the pipeline, not only demographics and socioeconomic standings have an impact on student outcomes, and that professional development and more teacher training is needed then why have school districts not taken steps to correct the issues? I have noticed that according to my interviewees, school discipline in the general population is dependent on removing students from the educational environment (whether it be detention, in school suspension, or out of school suspension). When students are removed from the learning environment this hinders their ability to stay up to par with the rest of the students in the class. This could cause disruptive behaviors that can contribute to their introduction to the pipeline.

One of the biggest challenges I have had during this project is scheduling the interviews. I have a lot of people who are willing to go through the process but catching them at the right time has been a little bit of a struggle. One of the biggest successes I had during this project would be the process of creating the interview questions and then seeing them in action. All of this is brand new to me. Every time a step forward is taken it feels as though I have accomplished a milestone.

I have learned a lot about the research process during this project. I have also been reaffirmed on the importance of communication. During the interview process I have gained insight on the day to day safety and discipline issues. It seems as a consensus is that there is a huge lack of training when it comes to methods of dealing with the behaviors that may trigger disciplinary actions. It would be interesting to test a cohort of students where disciplinary policies were completely altered to avoid our current method of removal from the classroom.

This project has made a major impact on the way that I view my current position (TA), and the position that I aspire to be. Every school employee has something to offer. Each one has a major impact on the way that the school operates and can make a difference on the way that students perceive their school. These student perceptions are important because people like to go to places that they like. If school employees can find ways that help students enjoy their time at school, I predict better outcomes. As of currently, I need to find a way to have administration hear the voices of teachers and school staff. There are so many ideas that could help improve not only safety and discipline measures, but the learning environment on a whole. However, the voices of school employees are not always heard. I aspire to be a principal. This project has helped me realize the importance of proper teacher training and the power of having an open line of communication from teachers/TAs/aides to administration.

Blog #1

The title of the project that myself and my faculty adviser Joan Walker are working on this summer is School Safety and Discipline and the School-to-Prison Pipeline: Examining Policies and Teacher Practices in Districts that Differ by Race and Affluence.

We are conducting a qualitative, narrative inquiry that examines school safety protocols and disciplinary measures across affluent majority White, diverse suburban and low-income majority Black school districts. Our goal is to get a better understanding of how safety and discipline impact teachers’ engagement with students and students’ access to opportunities to learn. This work is important because it may inform research that has identified gaps in safety and discipline procedures that mirror achievement gaps observed along the lines of race and class within our education system (Gregory, Skiba & Noguera, 2010).

Our tentative research questions are: What do school safety and discipline policies and practices look like on paper and on a day-to-day basis? How do they impact students’ and teachers’ ability to work together?

I expect to learn a great deal about the research process from this project. Dr. Walker and I meet in person to discuss the project. In our weekly meetings, we discuss our goals and objectives, the procedures we’ll use to achieve our goals and why we are conducting each step. This is important because it allows me to see how research unfolds. Aside from learning about the research process, I expect to learn a lot about the methods and policies employed by a diverse group of schools and how teachers within those schools describe their work. By interacting with the interviewees and by analyzing their answers, I can gain a great deal of perspective on an important aspect of teaching–maintaining classroom order and opportunities to learn–and on a national dilemma, which is known as the school-to-prison pipeline.

We will answer our research questions by triangulating publicly available (1) artifacts such as school policies, (2) data summaries of school demographics, demographic distributions of school disciplinary actions (https://projects.propublica.org/miseducation) and (3) interviews and surveys designed to answer specific questions that contribute to an overall schema. Using these schema to design our interview questions is important because it allows us to maintain focus in deciding the true purpose of individual questions. Our participants potentially include approximately twenty school professionals from four different schools (5 / school). As we gather our data we will analyze and code it for how it answers our research questions. We will also look at the data for emerging themes and patterns that we did not anticipate.