Friday, May 27, 2016

DFS Week 2 Reaction

This past week, I completed approximately, 12 hours of work. I continued to work on questionnaire edits and the literature reviews. I also met with my mentor, Jason Gillette on Thursday for a few hours. One thing that was rewarding was I reviewed a paper Jason wrote. He asked if I would review it and make edits as needed. It was all about the history and current status of education policy in Arizona. Not only was it pertinent to my current research, but I was also able to feel like this is more of a collaborative effort. I am able to lend my experience and skills to help him polish a paper.

Yesterday's meeting went well. We finalized the questionnaire we will be using to interview the different division and program directors. It does help to be face-to-face doing something like that since there is always a lot of word smithing. Learning how to compromise with others and make changes to things that you have spent significant time on creating are great skills to have. While it can be a little bruising to the ego, having a great product at the end that everyone can agree on, even if people do not 100% love everything but is what we can live with, is key to moving forward and not getting bogged down in details. I saw this at the last Arizona Public Health Association (AzPHA)planning session. We were tasked with rewriting our mission/goals and creating one sentence that captures what AzPHA is. After six hours, we finally had a sentence that the board of 12 could live with. We all had to make concessions and compromises, but we got there. Not an easy thing for a bunch of leaders who are used to making all the decisions! Modifying this questionnaire played out in a similar fashion, albeit, much sooner and smoother! Understanding that even though you may be in a leadership position, you must value others' inputs to be successful.

He also took me to a happy hour. Several people from throughout the Department of Education were there and I was able to discuss with them my project and get to know them more on a personal basis. This was a great opportunity to be approachable, network, and make relationships beyond emails. I had a manager years ago, who was afraid to have his personal and professional lives mix in any way, to the point that he would not wear his wedding ring or have a picture of his family on his desk because people would ask questions about his family instead of focusing on work. While I completely agree with keeping professional in the workplace, this caused him to be unapproachable and almost less than human. This happy hour is something that Jason does the last Thursday of every month. The rule is no talking shop once drinks are served! Such a contrast to my previous manager. Jason maintained professionalism with caring about the people sitting around him.

Monday, May 23, 2016

DFS Week 1 Reaction

This week I worked approximately 7 hours.  

I had my first meeting with my mentor this week. We had briefly spoken prior to this on some expectations and possible directions. I also sent him my Problem of Practice statement from the previous semester. So at this meeting, we spent several hours brainstorming and determining what we will be focusing on. We have quite the to-do list! I will be working on the literature reviews, creating the plan of study, and drafting a questionnaire. It was a great meeting and I feel energized about my project.

One thing that someone surprises me is that he has taken on some tasks himself as well. Based on his connections, he is working cultivate networking opportunities for me, as well as setting up meetings with program area directors. These opportunities will allow me to connect different program area directors and other stakeholders. I hope to get a lot of insight by doing this.

I started doing some literature reviews on how school systems are funded here in Arizona and learning standards. From this information, I drafted a questionnaire to ask the program area directors. This type of literature the view was a bit different from what I am used to since much of the information is on government websites as opposed to peer review journal articles. It provides a black-and-white view of educational systems; however, it does not capture the nuances often associated with how systems actually work. I feel like it is missing political and social factors. This is the type of information I hope to gain from the interviews.

I am a little overwhelmed with the amount of work that needs to be done in just about two months. I expect I will be working on tasks after the summer session has concluded. I am excited; however, that I will be able to utilize this information in my dissertation.