Writing Literature Reviews

Recently, I was working on a literature review, and it felt like it was making little progress over a long time. Writing lit reviews is not new to me; I have done many, in addition to innumerable research papers. Why should it take so much time? I decided to review my process and speak to classmates in the program, both in my cohort and those who are further along than I, to get ideas. Continue reading

Systems Approaches to School Change

School change is hard.  It doesn’t always go as planned.  In my last post (which you can read here), I made the case (with the help of Professor Tammy Kolbe) that this is true because education is a complex system.  The good news is that systems theorists have been working on the problem of change in complex systems for a few decades now.  In this second post I share a few big ideas from the literature on systems, schools, and change that I think can be immediately useful to education innovators.  Continue reading

On Becoming a Professor

As I enter my second year in the PhD program in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Vermont, I find myself standing in front of my own university classroom. My role is to engage my students in content that directly relates to my research interests and work experience.  To do this, I welcome my responsibility to instruct this required English Language Learner (ELL) education course but also to invite these students into meaningful community involvement through service learning.  Yet, the next day I am back to being the student again.  In all of this, I am not alone, neither in my experience nor in my support from the faculty at UVM. This is the story of how I have been encouraged and supported into this position.

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Reviewing as a Graduate Student

Journals, conferences, and other refereed publication and presentation opportunities depend on reviewers to identify quality submissions and provide feedback to authors. Up until now, I have interacted with these systems as a contributing author. However, as I enter the third year of my doctorate program, I have been looking to get involved with the other side of the system. A few months ago,on the advice of colleagues and professors, I volunteered to serve as a graduate student reviewer for submissions to a conference. Recently, I received an email notification with items for review. It was time to get to work. Continue reading

Post-Summer Leadership Opportunities

Every June, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) hosts a week of networking activities in our nation’s capitol. As the Holmes Scholars representative for UVM, I joined eleven other doctoral students from across the country for its Summer Policy Institute, held for three days during 2015’s Washington Week. The theme was “Diverse Perspectives, Deep Partnerships, One Profession.” Continue reading

Personalized Learning and Questions of Equity

Can an education system built around personalized learning produce more equitable outcomes than the current model of schooling? This question has been rattling in my head during the past few weeks as I continue to explore the movement toward personalization, which seems to be gaining at least some momentum in recent years with an increasing number of schools and even states adopting more personalized approaches to education. My current state of residence, Vermont, is fully enmeshed in the personalization movement. In 2013, the state passed Act 77, which aims to provide students in Vermont with multiple and flexible pathways to high school graduation through increased access to work-based and blended learning opportunities, dual enrollment, and early college. It also requires all students in grades 7-12 to have a personalized learning plan (PLP) by the 2018-19 school year. Paired with the state’s Education Quality Standards, which mandates that high schools develop proficiency-based rather than “seat time” graduation requirements by 2020, Act 77 aims to “move[s] Vermont’s public education system to a model based on personalization” (Vermont Agency of Education, n.d., p. 5). Continue reading

Decentralization of decision-making in international education systems

I have long been interested in education in the developing world and the decentralization of decision-making in these regions. My initial perspective was in favor of decentralized models for the purpose of supporting sustainable and locally relevant economic development. Further investigation into this topic through coursework and my personal research has pushed my thinking. In this post, I would like to define decentralization in this context and consider some of the issues that arise in programs of decentralization. Continue reading

The Complexity of School Change

We talk about the education system all the time.  When we do, our mental images can look like organizational flow charts representing school and district structures.  Students answer to teachers, who answer to administrators, who communicate with the central office, and on up the chain of command.  It‘s easy to imagine direct lines of communication, authority, and power. Continue reading

Welcome to our EDLP doctorate program blog

Welcome to Crosscutting Conversations in Education, a blog created by students in the Education Leadership and Policy Studies (EDLP) doctoral programs in the College of Education and Social Services at the University of Vermont. We have created  this space as a forum for individuals affiliated with the EDLP programs to express their thoughts and insights about topics of interest in education and to reflect on their experiences as practitioners and scholars.

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