Category Archives: Getting Started

How I Did It-Starting Data Collection


June 3, 2010

Yesterday I had my proposal defense. It went great! My committee members were proud of me for pulling off the big change the School asked for. Today I stepped out on faith and made the initial phone calls to begin recruitment. I called the county office who told me to contact principals directly to get to their teachers. OK.  I have to find out all the names and emails of the middle and high schools’ principals  in the district I chose. Sounds easy enough. This won’t be too bad.

To talk to me privately about this or any other dissertation-related issue, email me.

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How I Did It-Drifting…


December 9, 2009

I feel like I’m floating away from this. Drifting so far that I can’t see it. This can’t continue to happen. I turned in the revisions to my committee and they want me to make a few more changes because they want the School to approve it the first time around. Well, I do too, BUT it takes me forever to revise nowadays.

 

 

 

 

To talk to me privately about this or any other dissertation-related issue, email me.

How I Did It-IRB Prep


November 15, 2009

I’ve managed to type up my correspondence forms and participant letter for the future participants of my study. I drafted the email to send to them for recruitment and I signed up for SurveyMonkey.com. I’ll use it so they can answer qualifying questions in the form of a survey to determine if they are a good fit for my study. Because I’m using email I have to specifically state at the bottom of the consent forms I create that the participants know they are responsible for the security of their own computers. Seems like there are so many forms to create for the IRB application. I am still not done with it. But I will get done.

 

 

 

 

To talk to me privately about this or any other dissertation-related issue, email me.

How I Did It-Life Updates


November 9, 2009

In the last two weeks, a few pretty cool things have happened. I got a new minivan. I got a word from Joyce Meyer on how to keep my mouth shut. I was told how to get my 6-year-old to take responsibility for getting herself dressed in the morning. I have been considered for an interview for a faculty position at High Point University. I’m going to a Council for Exceptional Children’s conference to meet the head of the Education department at High Point University beforehand. All kinds of things have occurred, but not about the dissertation, except that I got the comments back from both of my committee members yesterday. I’ll work on the revisions of the proposal from my committee tonight for an hour. My deadline is the 12th.

To talk to me privately about this or any other dissertation-related issue, email me.

How I Did It- Starting the IRB


October 2, 2009

I hate that I am now moving at a really slow pace. This one hour a day seems to make progress drag. I’m not in the position to go slow, but at least I’m going. I will get the references perfected this weekend to make sure my mentor gets it before she sends me back my proposal.  I need her to send the correct references to the committee. I really hope they don’t take 10 days each. I took at look at the IRB forms. They have all the components of my Chapter 3 broken down into questions. I understand why the proposal has to be done first. I did all the legwork up front. Here’s where I am so far:

  • Step 1-Talk to my mentor about my preproposal
  • Step 2-Create the preproposal-5 hours
  • Step 3- Get Dissertation Committee approval-~2 weeks
  • Step 4- Complete CITI training-1 week
  • Step 5-Mentor approves preproposal-~2 weeks
  • Step 6-Collect the literature-40 hours
  • Step 7-Code the literature-60 hours (break down how later)
  • Step 8-Write the literature review-40 hours
  • Step 9–Finish writing the proposal-Chapters 1 and 3-Write 3 before 1.-30 hours
  • Step 10- Mentor approves proposal-~2 weeks (Work on IRB documents while I wait)
  • Step 11-Revise the proposal if necessary-6 hours
  • Step 12-Defend the Proposal
  • Step 13-Obtain IRB Approval-~2-3 weeks depending on school
  • Step 14-Collect the data-150 hours
  • Step 15- Transform data to codable form-40-60 hours
  • Step 16- Code the data-40 hours
  • Step 17-Create the matrix to explain the data-5 hours
  • Step 18-Write a sample analysis for mentor-5 hours
  • Step 19- Mentor reviews sample analysis-~1 week
  • Step 20-Write  Chapter 4 including sample analysis-40 hours
  • Step 21-Write Chapter 5- 30 hours
  • Step 22-Transform the Proposal into dissertation chapters 1-3 and create front matter-5 hours
  • Step 23- Edit the Chapters-60 hours
  • Step 24- School and Committee review of dissertation for  approval-3-4 weeks
  • Step 25- Revise the dissertation-25 hours
  • Step 26-Dissertation Approval-~2 weeks
  • Step 27-Make Formatting Revisions based on school editor-8 hours
  • Step 28-Review of the dissertation-~2 weeks
  • Step 29-Defend the dissertation
  • Step 30-Do any final revisions after defense-20 hours
  • Step 31-Submit the dissertation for publication-1 hour

How I Did It-Chugging Along


August 17, 2009

This morning I’m back in the library. I haven’t been here in over a week. I hope to get the writing done today for this section. I have pieced together Chapter 1, but there is still work to do.

Done so far: background of the study, definitions, nature of the study

To be done: introduction, significance, and organization of chapters

I have to finish writing the section on NCLB and add to the teacher shortage section of Chapter 2. It would be nice to finish up the typing tonight too, but I doubt it. I have to start working on my new school’s things to do list starting tomorrow, so I am really glad I’m nearing the end of this proposal. I can start on my IRB application while my mentor and committee members review my chapters. I want to conduct my research for my Chapter 4 by October or November, and be able to write the final chapters by January. We’ll see. I have no plans to let this dissertation take more than a year of my life. I will keep chugging along to get it done effectively, yet as quick as I possibly can.

 

 

 

 

 

To talk to me privately about this or any other dissertation-related issue, email me.

How I Did It-Preparing For Work


August 11, 2009

I got a lot done at the library yesterday, but each section is taking me longer than I wanted them to. I should have finished this section last night but didn’t. I am using today’s three hours for a section I should have already done. Grrr.

So, when I start back to work I will have a Resource class at my new high school, I teach two classes at UNCG and I have to spend at least two hours a day on this dissertation. Let’s see, is that a bit much? I most likely will have at least 25 students on my caseload too. I just laid out a detailed plan to focus on this proposal before I start working.

11thRead Teacher Quality articles

Add references

12thRead NCLB articles

Add references

 

13thWrite TQ and NCLB Sections

Start on Chapter 1

14thWrite TQ and NCLB Sections
15thFinish TQ and NCLB Sections

Read SpEd Teacher shortage articles

16thRead SpEd articles

Add references

Write Chapter 1

17thRead SpEd articles

Begin writing SpEd section

18thWrite SpEd section

Write Chapter 1

19thWrite SpEd section

Write Chapter 1

20thWrite Conclusion to Chapter 2

Edit

Send Chapter 2 to editor

21stAdd references

Write Chapter 1

 

22ndFinish Chapter 1

Add references

23rdFinish Chapter 1

Edit

 

 

 

How I Did It-I Hate Weekends


August 8, 2009

It’s Saturday and I am home with the kids all day. I got a lot done at the library after spending 6 hours there, but I’m too tired to go today. I want to work while my baby is asleep, but I also want to sleep. If I wait until my husband comes home I’ll be even more tired. I hate weekends…

 

 

 

 

 

To talk to me privately about this or any other dissertation-related issue, email me.

How I Did It-Structured Motivation


August 4, 2009

Today is my baby’s birthday and it is a great day. It is also the day that I signed the letter of intent at my new school. I didn’t interview with my principal, as others normally would. I went in, signed it and that was it. I want the structure of having this job to motivate me to keep moving, but realistically am I kidding myself? So many dissertators have a hard time finishing while trying to juggle a full load. One thing I do know is that I can’t stop now. Anything that keeps me from moving forward will pass. I just have to commit to starting back up again.

After the party, I went to the diner up the street to read the articles for the next section so that I can keep it moving. I was able to read two articles and take notes on them at the diner. It was so loud and smoky that I’m surprised I could  focus.

 

 

 

 

To talk to me privately about this or any other dissertation-related issue, email me.

How I Did It-Job Offer!


August 3, 2009

It’s Monday and tomorrow my baby turns 1! I have nothing ready in regards to a party. I’ll pull it together and she will be fine. Today one of my old principals called me to offer me a position. I will be teaching 11th grade Resource English and 9th grade Inclusion Algebra. Not too bad. I would love to take it. I told him I would have to talk to my husband first. The high school hours will be good. I would begin on August 20 and school starts on August 26. I would definitely be finished with my proposal by then. I would try to write some during my down time, if I have it. I told the principal I was in the last stages of my PhD program and he said he would be flexible if I needed to take time off or something. The only thing about taking this job is  that I will be looking for a position at a college or university all the while. For me, this will be temporary. I’ve  served my time in public school, but making full-time own money again sure sounds good. I would be working full-time and part-time (I dare not drop being an adjunct at UNCG), be a full-time mother and wife and basically a full-time dissertator. I would really have to step up my game.

 

 

 

 

 

To talk to me privately about this or any other dissertation-related issue, email me.

How I Did It-Time Wasted Writing


August 1, 2009

I’m reaching the homestretch of my deadlines, but I think I may be kidding myself. I just sat here and wrote almost two pages off the top of my head with no citations. I could continue like that but how would I know where I got it all from very quickly? It would take a while to do the editing to make it credible to add into the dissertation and I don’t have the time. So I just wasted time.

I have confirmation about daycare. My husband is not fighting me on it. My official deadline to finish Chapter 3 revisions, Chapter 1 and 2 is August 15th. That gives me two weeks, but I will keep her there for a month if something happens.

 

 

 

 

 

To talk to me privately about this or any other dissertation-related issue, email me.

How I Did It-Minor Corrections and …Daycare


July 30, 2009

Yesterday I was only here at the library for an hour, but I was able to print off the Chapter 3 my mentor made comments on. I was happy to see the corrections I have to make are minor. After I fix them I wonder what my committee members will say. So, I plan to get three pages written in 2 hours if I start in a few minutes and don’t stop. I have made great progress on the first section of my Chapter 2, but I haven’t typed it to see how long it is. It is good that I am writing it all down like I used to because if I waited and typed it, it would take forever to get done.

I have decided to put my baby in daycare for the month of August until I get my whole proposal done. My husband seriously needs a break. It took me a month in a half to write Chapter 3, but I only have a month left to write two chapters! I can do it. I can do it.

 

 

 

 

 

To talk to me privately about this or any other dissertation-related issue, email me.

How I Did It-Get Away From the Computer


July 28, 2009

It is 1:30pm and I made it to the library. I am away from the computer. It gets me all off track sometimes. I remember I did the most work on the Comps when I didn’t have a computer in front of me. This is only good when it is time to write though. If I still have research to do then I will use the computer, then run away afterwards. It just slows me down. Lord, please let me be productive here today.

I’m getting up from this table with two pages written! Woo Hoo! at 4pm!

 

 

 

 

 

To talk to me privately about this or any other dissertation-related issue, email me.

How I Did It-Remember the Steps


July 25, 2009

I am 2 months into working on my dissertation and I have made progress. Things are beginning to slow down, so I need a reminder of my goals. Here is a recap of the 31 steps to completion and where I am so far. Chapter 3 is done and I am writing the lit. review.

  • Step 1-Talk to my mentor about my preproposal
  • Step 2-Create the preproposal-5 hours
  • Step 3- Get Dissertation Committee approval-~2 weeks
  • Step 4- Complete CITI training-1 week
  • Step 5-Mentor approves preproposal-~2 weeks
  • Step 6-Collect the literature-40 hours
  • Step 7-Code the literature-60 hours (break down how later)
  • Step 8-Write the literature review-40 hours
  • Step 9–Finish writing the proposal-Chapters 1 and 3-Write 3 before 1.-30 hours
  • Step 10- Mentor approves proposal-~2 weeks (Work on IRB documents while I wait)
  • Step 11-Revise the proposal if necessary-6 hours
  • Step 12-Defend the Proposal
  • Step 13-Obtain IRB Approval-~2-3 weeks depending on school
  • Step 14-Collect the data-150 hours
  • Step 15- Transform data to codable form-40-60 hours
  • Step 16- Code the data-40 hours
  • Step 17-Create the matrix to explain the data-5 hours
  • Step 18-Write a sample analysis for mentor-5 hours
  • Step 19- Mentor reviews sample analysis-~1 week
  • Step 20-Write  Chapter 4 including sample analysis-40 hours
  • Step 21-Write Chapter 5- 30 hours
  • Step 22-Transform the Proposal into dissertation chapters 1-3 and create front matter-5 hours
  • Step 23- Edit the Chapters-60 hours
  • Step 24- School and Committee review of dissertation for  approval-3-4 weeks
  • Step 25- Revise the dissertation-25 hours
  • Step 26-Dissertation Approval-~2 weeks
  • Step 27-Make Formatting Revisions based on school editor-8 hours
  • Step 28-Review of the dissertation-~2 weeks
  • Step 29-Defend the dissertation
  • Step 30-Do any final revisions after defense-20 hours
  • Step 31-Submit the dissertation for publication-1 hour

 

 

 

To talk to me privately about this or any other dissertation-related issue, email me.

 

How I Did It-Family Time


July 24, 2009

I made a sacrifice today. The library closed at 5pm today, but I didn’t make it there. My husband told me that he wanted to spend more time with me. I stayed home with him and talked. I suggested we take a walk in our neighborhood and to my surprise, we did.  The kids got on their bikes and I pulled out the baby stroller. It was fun. I want to spend more time with him too and will just have to make time for him like I do for the dissertation. I don’t want to ever take him for granted.

To get back on track I will go to the library for only three hours from 2pm- 5pm for the next two weeks and then when school starts 11-2:30pm. If that is too early for my husband then I can do 4pm-7pm. That way I will be home for dinner and what’s left of homework for the kids. Onward…

 

 

 

 

 

To talk to me privately about this or any other dissertation-related issue, email me.

How I Did It-Distracted


July 22, 2009

I can’t believe I didn’t write about my day yesterday. I guess I was so bothered that I forgot. I had an interview to start back teaching full-time. I have licensure issues since the federal government just busted North Carolina saying secondary special education teachers  had the wrong certification if they didn’t have the same licenses as regular education teachers. What in the world?! I take a year off from teaching and try to come back with this mess going on. Looks like I will be tweaking my dissertation topic. I have not written a section of my Chapter 2 yet. I should finish reading tonight and get the first section done tomorrow no matter what happens. As long as I get the entire proposal done between the August 7th and 15th, I’m OK because that gives my mentor time to read it and send it to other committee members. They will have time before the quarter ends to have me do rewrites. Oh, rewrites. Didn’t think about those. OK, let’s get on the ball because rewrites can slow everything down. Let’s get focused!

 

 

 

To talk to me privately about this or any other dissertation-related issue, email me.

 

 

How I Did It-Writing Continues


July 15, 2009

I’m back in the library. It’s 2:45pm. I left the house at 2:15. It wouldn’t have mattered if I had left the house earlier. If I leave later than my scheduled time I still have to be back when I say will out of courtesy of my husband’s time. I’ve managed to write 12 pages of my Chapter 3. Since the chapters can be anywhere from 18-30 pages, I am on the right track. The front and end matter will push the dissertation over 100 pages, so I dare not fret.

 

 

 

 

To talk to me privately about this or any other dissertation-related issue, email me.

 

How I Did It-Getting Back on Track


July 13, 2009

It has been almost two weeks since I wrote in this journal. I knew I was going to get sidetracked. The workshop I taught last week took every minute of my time. It is Monday and I have to jump back into the swing of things. To meet my original deadlines, I have three weeks to write 25-30 pages. That’s about 18 days at about a page and a half a day. If I made each section of the proposal  a page and a half, doing one each day, then it can definitely be done. Thinking about it this way makes it so much better for me. I have to now get my husband back into thinking about helping me again. That has been the biggest struggle; finding time and letting it go by because I have to juggle and negotiate for it. Even still, I know I can do this.

It’s 4:00pm and I’m in the library.  I forgot to mention that I emailed my mentor on July 3rd and didn’t hear back until July 11th. Oh well. I just re-emailed one of my committee members. I hope I sent it to the right address. I didn’t hear from her for an entire month with the first email. As I wait to hear from her, I’ll get to writing…

 

 

 

 

 

To talk to me privately about this or any other dissertation-related issue, email me.

How I Did It-Deflecting from the Plan


June 30, 2009

Today was a pretty good day. I forgave myself this morning for taking a week off from writing in my journal. My husband came home at 11:45am and went to the library. I got there at 12:40pm and left at 4:45pm. I was able to get a day ahead of my plan or actually just on time. I wanted to stay longer, but I had to go and run an errand. After getting home and making dinner, my brother and sister came over. They stayed until almost 10pm. The day was long.  My baby was asleep by 11pm and all is right with the world. Tonight I will spend an hour studying for a workshop I have to teach next week. I have a feeling I won’t be working on the dissertation for another week.

 

 

 

 

 

To talk to me privately about this or any other dissertation-related issue, email me.

How I Did It-Still No Laptop


June 19, 2009

Another day without my laptop! I took it to Geek Squad and they told me the port is ruined. It needs a new motherboard! What in the world does that mean?! I can’t believe this is happening. I have not worked on the dissertation today, but I still plan to. I have to start reading the literature I found. I have more articles I can print out at the library too. I am trying hard not to get discouraged. It is too early for this. My husband doesn’t want to listen to me talk about the problems, so I should just stop focusing on the negative. I think he’d want to share this with me if I talk about what I am able to do. I should also make better use of my time by being flexible. It is obvious that I can’t always do things as I plan. I should know that from everything else in my life, but for some reason I thought I could be in control of this dissertation since it is mine. Boy was I wrong. If I get any lesson out of this short amount of time is do the best I can with what I have as long as I keep going.

 

 

 

 

To talk to me privately about this or any other dissertation-related issue, email me.

How I Did It- My Computer Dies!


JUNE 17, 2009

My computer died today. It has to be the battery because it won’t even work plugged in. I know my husband will get me another one, but I don’t want to waste time not being able to do what I have done to get prepared. Luckily, I have articles I can read for the lit. review. There are also books I can read too. I’m at the library at 6pm and I spent the first 20 minutes checking email and on Facebook. What am I doing?!

OK, shake that off, keep moving. So, I am looking up more articles for my lit. review and I am not sure if they fit with my methodology or not. I’m going to work on Chapter 3 before Chapter 1. Chapter 1 will be easier to do last because some of the components from Chapter 3 are basically restated in more defined terms. By the time I finish with Chapter 3, I’ll have all the literature for Chapter 2. I think I’ve made the outline for Chapter 2 too complicated. It has 5 themes and 15 sub-themes.  If I do a page or two per topic that would be my whole chapter. I should think of the sub-themes as mini-papers and use transition statements to link the paragraphs together. They must flow. That is how I wrote the Comps and it seemed to work out pretty good.

 

 

 

 

 

To talk to me privately about this or any other dissertation related issue, email me

How I Did It-Getting Organized-June 12, 2009


I thought this day would be a disaster, but it turned out pretty good. I’m still working extensively on gathering documents for my literature review and I peck around aimlessly at home. I am at the library later than I planned, at 2pm instead of 12:30 and I will stay until 5:30, so my time is cut short. Anyway, I got really organized in this amount of time. I already organized and named my folders on my flash drive and hard drive, so today I will put them into real manilla folders in the same way and labeled them based on the sections of my outline. I printed off each article and any other info from the folders and put them into their corresponding real folder. As I find an article, I email the items to myself then I save them in the fitting folder on the drive, then I print them out. I plan to be completely finished with gathering literature by the end of the week. I like the way this is going. I am confused about the exact types of articles I need to set up the conceptual framework and theoretical context of the literature, but I will have to ask my mentor about it on Monday.

 

 

 

 

 

To talk to me privately about this or any other dissertation related issue, email me.

How I Did It-At the Library-June 11, 2009


I’m at the library. I just completed my backwards timeline and I gave myself two more months, May 2010. If I am offered a job, finishing up in June or July is OK because I will be in the final stages of the dissertation. I would have already applied for graduation. Some colleges and universities will hire candidates who are ABD as long as the graduation date is known. I see now how I have to stay focused and use this time my husband is giving me wisely. Devoting about 6 hours a day to this will do the trick. If I can’t do 6 hours, I will take any time I can get. I’m glad I started my literature collection early because I want to start reading and coding once my mentor gives me the OK on Monday.

I’m going to start back taking my vitamins and Mega T for energy so I can get through the summer with all the kids home all day. I won’t be able to write at home, but I will still be productive nonetheless. Lord, in advance, please don’t let IRB approval and the finding of participants take too long. That is the biggest thing now. But as long as it gets in motion and is doable, I guess I will do fine. It’s this literature review I should focus on while I’m at the library…

I am actually about to walk away from the library with the entire outline for my literature review completed! I sent it to my mentor. I also made file folders on my flash drive to organize all the articles I am going to use. I made files to save my drafts of my Chapters in too. Now I am going home to transfer the items to my hard drive too.

How I Did It-An Attempt at a Schedule-June 8, 2009


I made a schedule to go to the library for my husband to follow. I need to be able to leave the house while he stays here with the kids. I put the schedule on his pants last night before I got into bed. He goes to work before we wake up and I was surprised to see that he actually took the schedule with him! I am now at the library following the schedule. He did not fight it. Mon, Tues, Thurs and Sat, 5:30-10pm  and Wed, Fri, 12:30-5:30. I won’t leave on Sundays. I will still do what I can do on Sunday without having to leave. Taking out 30 minutes a day for drive time to and from the library, I will average about 25 hours a week of consistent alone time.  That is exactly what I need. If I stay up late at night for a couple of hours more, that’s fine too. Today I will officially begin my literature search. I will start with the key words…

How I Did It-Already a Challenge-June 7, 2009


Well I knew this was going to be a challenge, but the major part hasn’t even really started yet. My husband wants a break (I’ve been in school our entire marriage of 8 years!), but I can’t give it to him right now. This means I’m stretching him and the worse hasn’t even come yet. What am I going to do? Our kids are 10 years , 7 years and 10 months old. I have a plan to get this done, but carrying it out seems impossible. I don’t have anyone else, but my sister, to turn to while I write this proposal. It will require the same level of intensity as the Comps Exam did. But because there are no pressures like the race for time, there doesn’t seem like there is a sense of urgency. If he knew all I have to do I know he would understand, but how could he if he’s tired? He doesn’t even want me to talk about it too much because of the overkill I did when I suffered through Comps. What am I going to do? I know…I’ll pray about it. If I have come this far it is for a reason. Quitting is not an option. I have to find a way to manage around my family.