identity, Storytelling, Teacher Indentity, Women and Leadership, Writing, Storytelling

I don’t know how she does it

IMG_3311I am sure you have known that amazing, inspirational colleague. The teacher that seems to be on top of her game, shares her knowledge, builds confidence in the team and manages to push you that ‘little’ bit to achieve your best. Often we realize that impact that she had on individual teachers and students and the department as a whole after she has gone. And frankly, we really had no idea how she did it. She led, inspired and quietly challenged us all.

I have been reflecting on leadership and how we inhabit the role as leader, how we become that woman who inspires, challenges and encourages our colleagues. And I have been reminded to ask her before she moves on – ask her how she does it. Ask her how she entered the teaching profession, what drives her each day to make a difference, what she does to counter the challenges that inevitably come her way. Ask her who she looks up to, how she unwinds at the end of the week. Ask her to share her story.

Stories continue to shape and define us. One of the best ways to learn as an educator is to share stories. Invite others to tell their story and find ways to share your own. It is then you may be closer to understanding how she does it and perhaps why you too can do it.

PS. This post was first published on Staffrm a professional learning network and community for educators. I was sad to learn that this initiative is no longer viable and no crowdfunding or support can keep it alive. I hope I am wrong. Thanks for the introduction to Staffrm Hannah Wilson (@TheHopefulHT ) – a woman that inspired. #WomenEd #WomenEdAus

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research, Rural Women Educators, Writing, Storytelling

Data: a gathering with friends

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How to you read your data? How do you analyse and dissect the information you have gathered doing your research?

I have spent the morning ‘hanging’ out with the data today and it has been a joy.

It is as though I have been to a gathering of friends, meeting to have a meal at the end of semester. Each one is keen to share what has been happening in their world. There are voices interjecting as someone new comes along; another person shifts seats. There is laughter and clapping, as dishes are passed down the table. There are some quieter voices at one end of a table and hushed tones of reassurance. Someone wipes a tear from her cheek.

The data is after all stories of real people in real situations. Each woman interviewed has presented her story as an educator and leader in a rural context.  The story of the personal and the professional. The’ story as an identity’. And my role is to create a story out of the disparate and interconnected stories that are before me.

Just as I would in a gathering of friends, I acknowledge that I cannot talk to everyone at once. I may have several meaningful exchanges but the reality is I may only touch base with one or two of the people. I may need to do more listening and reflecting on the body language and facial expressions than ‘take in’ a whole conversation. I must listen to the silences, the gaps. I can sit and observe, watching carefully.

I apply this to how I approach my data, the words on the page, the transcripts that bring to life the interviews, the conversations.

I have listened to each interview in real time and as a recording. I have transcribed each interview, pulled out extracts, coded each according to themes, tracked common ideas and words, identified metaphors and highlighted questions. The whole ‘gathering’ then becomes smaller groups as I break down the data into bite size, digestible chunks.

Each new approach offers new insight, as I play with the data.

As I cast my eye along the table and the gathering of participants, I know that getting to know each one and the group as a whole will take time. But this is how I am reading and making sense of my data today. As a gathering with friends.

 

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