December: Observations and Transcriptions

As I said in my last post, I am a few months late on my blogging — I’m sorry!

After I finished all my interviews in early December, I moved on to classroom observations and transcriptions.  I had received permission from every participant that I could come into their classrooms whenever to conduct observations.  Each observation was about half an hour long, and I completed two for each participant. I had wanted to conduct more observations (at least three for each person) but my limited time frame made it so that I only had time to do two.  My observations were so interesting — I was able to see my interview questions in action in the classroom.  One observation was particularly interesting to me: Ms. Myers (pseudonym) had a lot of trouble with one of my interview questions about connecting the school curriculum to students’ lives. As one of the main effective practices for many teachers, research says that these connections are one of the ways that teachers are effective with African American students.  Though Ms. Myers struggled with the interview question because she couldn’t think of ways that she did this, my observation showed otherwise. During one of my observations, Ms. Myers was introducing Ancient Rome by playing an educational rap song called “Party at the Parthenon,” which students loved listening to.  She was connecting the curriculum to her students’ lives by accessing the type of music that they liked.  She also introduced Ancient Rome by going over vocabulary words, and connected each word to something they may already know about: for example, the word peninsula was familiar to them because of a popular shopping center in the area with the word “peninsula” in it, which led into a discussion of why it was called such.  With every word, she created some form of connection for them.  Though Ms. Myers initially had trouble with the question of connections in her interview, my observation of her classroom showed me that she made these connections seamlessly for her students.

Also during the process of observations, I was transcribing my interview data. Transcriptions were extremely time-consuming and tedious. I listened to each interview, which was anywhere from 35 minutes to an hour and 40 minutes, about two or three times to make sure that all of my transcriptions were correct.  I know the interviews so well that when I read my transcriptions, I “hear” the participants’ voice in my head. Though the transcription process was very tedious, I enjoyed it because I was able to begin pulling themes and interesting sections for my thesis. After finishing the transcriptions, I was well into January, where I started coding and pulling themes together!