Category Archives: thesis

Where Have I been?

Writing is a gift that we can give ourselves. It is the documentation of a meditative process that helps clear the mind onto paper. Once our thoughts are out on paper we can take a step back and begin to sort and make sense of what we are thinking and feeling. To a full time working mom (ugh I sound so old) the act of writing, much like meditation can seem indulgent. Why would my thoughts matter when there is a pile of laundry to be done, lesson plans completed and meetings to attend. Why should my family suffer (yes I am being dramatic) because of my indulgence to write? Well, I think the first response from me to me is to get over myself. My purpose is not to satiate my family, nor is to save students from the hazards of an outdated educational system. My purpose, for now is to tell my story and make sense of how my story can inform my inquiry. My story is one of millions/billions of stories that can be told or not, it can create a ripple or not, it can make a difference or not. Shifting from my story to my inquiry has left me in a state of “between.” This state of “between” is the space that exists from my old self that was not opened up to my evolved self that continues to open up to new ideas, understandings and perspectives on how the world works. My reality changes with each conceptual or theoretical framework that I read, and my direction changes, although I have no idea where I am going.

I do know that I have spent the last 20 years working with students who have been classified as having a disability. I have come to see disability as a social construct. This idea that some can and some cannot has become unacceptable to me. The last 10 of the 20 years I have worked more specifically with students who have a diagnosis of autism. What I have learned from working with these students is that how we perceive the world matters. I can not just teach students content without knowing how they experience the world.

The work of Albert Bandura speaks to this need to understand how individuals organize, regulate and reflect (2001), “People are … not just reactive organisms shaped and shepherded by environmental events of inner forces. Human self-development, adaptation and change are embedded in social systems. Personal agency operates within a broad network of sociostructural influences. IN these agentic transactions, people are producers as well as products of social systems” (Bandura, 2001). So I am wondering the relevance of this statement for the students that I work with who have classic autism, that is students whose social and communication skills are distant to the norms? Is there an awareness of these networks of sociostructural influences and social systems?


Wanna be startin’ somethin’

I just signed up to do an independent study with a professor who will guide me through the process of writing an empirical article about special education, common core learning standards and the relationship between the two. I will be looking at a culmination of data from a recent project to  understand and report out my findings.This involves many tasks as I toggle between data, previous research, and theoretical and conceptual frameworks. I also need to keep track of my thoughts, so this is where my blog comes back into my life. It is the recording of my thought process that will hopefully lead me on a clear path to opening up my ability to share and contribute what I know about the field of special education and how that meshes educational theory and practice. So I stand here at the threshold of my journey ready to start something that can have a profound impact on my career as a researcher.

In this early phase of my research I am asking myself a few questions. These questions are:

What will guide and inform my inquiry?

What data will I include/exclude?

Who is my target audience?

In this post I will discuss my first dive into what will guide and inform my inquiry. I begin by revisiting the Socioecological model to understand the dynamic relationships that occurs between the environmental and personal variables in education. The socioecological model has its roots in the work of Urie Bronfenbrenner‘s Ecological Framework for Human Development. Brofenbrenner theorized that to understand human development there needs to be an understanding of the dynamic relationship of humans to their environment. Brofenbrenner identified five layers of environmental factors that surround an individual as: Macro, Exo, Meso, Micro and Nano systems. These systems are dynamic meaning they are multidirectional.


The Macrosystem describes the conditions and beliefs that a society holds. This encompasses laws, social classes, ethnic groups and religious affiliations. It is the overarching determinate of how we view a topic, who makes decisions on a topic and policies that impact how we carry out our beliefs and ideas.

The Exosystem is the connection between places such as schools and neighborhoods, workplace and home. It is a removed relationship of places with  each other and not individual relationships. An example is the relationship that a neighborhood community has with their school and the impact on this has on beliefs and organizations. This shapes perceptions and understanding of relationships and the value they have over an individual.

The Mesosystem is the systems that include the individual and their relationships. The examples cited are school to home, work to home, childcare and home. These are the relationships of the systems that directly influence the individual as they are a part of the individuals direct environment.

The Microsystem is the system of activities in which the individual is involved. The activities, social roles and interpersonal relationships are all a layer of systems impact how the individual interacts with their environment.

The Nanosystem is the individual. Age, gender, genetics are all factors that influence the development of the individual within the dynamic layers of the Macro, Exo, Meso and Micro layers.

While this is a rough explanation the following video explains ecological systems in more depth.


Looking at these systems help to put into perspective the policies of No Child Left Behind, Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA), the implementation of Common Core Learning Standards and Annual Professional Performance Review as part of the Macrosystem, but we want to know how these policies penetrate the other systems in the Socioecological model ultimately impacting the educational development of the individual.

So here I stand with my first thought on my paper. It is a line of inquiry that I will dig into each day. I am hoping that my blog posts will make my thinking and learning transparent, and provide a record of decisions and processes that I will go through to inform and guide my writings to create a manuscript for submission by summers end.