Category Archives: research

The Power of Gratitude

I just want to share some thing that I learned in the last few weeks that I will use again in the future.

As a professor doing reviews is a necessary evil.   Peer review is what drives our world, in journals, in conferences, and in our promotion and tenure.

I have been in charge of reviews several times in my careers as Chair of SIG IT with AERA, as CITE Science Education Section Editor, and now as ISTE Research Chair.  And well it is always drudgery, asking (begging) for volunteers, knowing many will not do them, and having to figure stuff out in a scramble at the end..

When I started this ISTE process, I kind of dreaded the review process. When I found out that the previous reviewers did not carry over, and I had approx 150 papers and no reviewers, I panicked,  and my dread increased.. but I tried a different approach and I was impressed and surprised by the graciousness of the ISTE review community and others in my Professional network.

So when I saw I had almost no preset reviewers, I started with the traditional begging.  but still I only one one review per paper. (not enough). Then I reached out to my PLN and got some more reviewers.  A considerable challenge is that other divisions were giving 30 reviews to each reviewer so I tried to stay at 5.. (but I did have to go up a few).

Also ISTE has a 2 step approval process, you have to apply and then be invited – which also was a problem.

However, in my panic, I started using email and I used to thank our reviewers to great success.   First, I thanked everyone who did step 1 and asked them to complete step 2.. and then I did that a few times.  I also sent out a thank you to those that agreed but had not completed step 1 and was honest about their frustration.

Then each week during the review process, I sent a thank you and an update to all reviewers.  I have never done that before and I got so many personal emails from people that they appreciated it. (and a few emails from friends saying- are you ok – that is pretty informal). I had nothing to lose and a job to do so I tried to be funny and myself. A little sarcastic and more than a little honest.  People responded to it in a big way..

What did I get – Amazing reviews and new members of my PLN.   I also had people email to ask me questions and make their reviews even better. I also got to include some doctoral students in the review process. They were able to build their resume, did a great job, and also will likely be good reviewers next year!

I was worried that people would be mad at me for emailing them weekly, I know I am like .. I know the deadline, back off!  but I did not get that.. Instead I got to celebrate with reviewers and recognize them publicly via twitter. (which was incredibly fun for those that did!)

twitter post

I also left this weekend expecting to do a 100 reviews, I am doing 2!

So what did I learn?

Many others feel the same way about doing reviews that I do.. It is a necessary evil but everyone wants a good program and for their own papers as well.  In addition, they want a good process and want to make it better. If you open the line of communications, they want to contribute.  Also, I have amazing friends and students and networks, and they came through for me.. Thank you thank you thank you thank you.

So what should I learn from this and do different moving forward? 

Gratitude is missing from a lot of our processes. As professors are being asked to do more administratia, do they often get thanked? probably not..   I need to thank people more in every day life.   It may encourage those reluctant to service to serve more.   There was a recently an article or a meme on social media – that instead of saying sorry say thank you.. I.e. instead of Sorry that I am late, … thank you for waiting.. could we practice it more..

So my question, how can I incorporate gratitude more in my academic drudgeries and day to day life?  and how can you?  


Special shout to the ISTE Staff especially Ari Brazfield who offered and sent out emails on my behalf so I did not have to keep data mining emails like I did at the beginning..  She was also super encouraging when she saw my results.

ISTE 2019 Research Reviewers Rocked!!!!  Thank you thank you thank you thank you. .




Teacher Exodus Update

I am really excited to share some more results from my study of the teachers who have left Oklahoma.   I am still analyzing some of the open ended responses but I have analyzed enough of the results that I feel confident sharing some of the results with you as I continue to add depth to the study and its results.   Normally in research, we would not be able to share results within the a month of starting a study – however this is such a current problem, and we need to be talking about what I am learning from this study.

To remind you, my research questions were:
Why are teachers leaving Oklahoma?
What is the cost to Oklahoma by this exodus?
What must change for teachers to return?

For each graphic, I am embedding the graphic from Pictochart so that you can click on the graphic and see the data and interact with it. If the format of the blog is too hard to do this, I have included a link that will open in a new window.

Method of the study

What OK loses by teachers leaving

Why are teachers leaving? 

Hope for the future

So after looking at all this, what are my thoughts as a researcher related to the Oklahoma teacher exodus crisis?

1)Most of the teachers left recently, they miss their families and 31% would be willing to return.

2) The problems they are talking about make sense – They are not making enough money as teachers to pay down their student loans, have a reliable car, and achieve benchmarks of success like buying a home.

3) It is about more than money. Teachers want to feel respected and valued as part of their communities. Their community is their local community but also their state as a whole.   They are committed to building their communities and they want to feel supported by them.

4) Teachers are important members of our communities.  We need them in our communities as members of neighborhoods and institutions.  We need to create an environment where they can be afford to part of them.

5) More than 50% of teachers who left had degrees beyond their bachelors. These were highly trained teachers. Replacing them with emergency certified teachers is not an equivalent trade.

6) Here’s the big one: if we think that we are feeling the effect of this teacher exodus phenomenon right now.. just wait.  If we don’t fix it quickly, 5 years from now, we will see the effects in the education of level of our next generation.  This will affect our economy, and our future as a state.   THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW!!!


Feel free to browse my most updated map with Salary Differences.  Each marker is set to the new city and titled with the Oklahoma City if available salary difference is shared


A new Approach to a Research Poster

So on Thursday, I am presenting at the Rocky Mountain Educational Research Association Annual Meeting in Lawton and I am presenting my work as a poster on the Teacher Flight Project.

So I will be honest, when I heard I got a poster, I swore a little and thought, dang it now i have to make a poster. And on conferences where I need to fly, I often leave them at the site and after all that work only a few people see them.

I am trying something new, for this conference, I made a series of 4 Infographics using Pictochart. This an interactive infographic maker that will allow users to interact with my data.

Why did I try this new approach? 

Since i am studying teachers leaving Oklahoma and I recruited through social media, I want to share my results in these same venues. I also want to create ways to share the research with leaders in our state.  Infographics are the way to do that. Also the data is more interesting, if you can interact with it, rather than a static image – so the Piktochart graphics allow me to do that.  I can also print out the graphics and place them on the poster board like any other poster.

I think this is the best of both worlds, so I will be able to share my results at the conference and with a wider audience through social media.

I will be sharing my graphics as I present on Thursday so please come back to it. The direct link will be  but it will be on this blog.

Looking forward to interacting with you and the conference attendees later this week.

Research your Passion

Wow.. I am blown away by the research experience I have had in the last 24 hours..

Sometime this summer when I heard about a few prominent teachers leaving Oklahoma, I was left with the question.. What have we as a state lost? I started to think about how we could capture this phenomenon and document the teachers who left Oklahoma and where did they go.

This is phenomenon research – research designed to capture and document something that is happening at a given time.  it is often framed by context or events and is time sensitive.   If you want to learn more about this type of research consult this special issue of Change management on the topic.

I started out wanting to do the research anonymously – teachers leaving Oklahoma is a highly politically charged topic and i was not interested in being part of that.  but then after talking to a few teachers,  I realized that knowing that a professor was asking the questions was important.

I began working on a survey, got feedback from current teachers and teachers who left about the questions. The survey grew based on this feedback and also the sample narrowed.   It became clear that the sample needed clear bounding. So I limited it only to educators who are still working in education but in a different state.  I know this excludes people who left education or could not move for a variety of reasons – but again, this is phenomenon research – so the phenomenon I am capturing is educators who left OK to teach elsewhere and why they did that.   Those other choices were equally as valid and may be part of another study, but one of the challenges of a study is set clear boundaries. I also decided to only allow people to fill it out for themselves – and then that way I won’t ask a name, and they can do it anonymously (however, the collection of their data in some ways identifies them).

I went through a week of Human Subjects approval which also refined my survey more and did a few more proofings.

My ultimate goal is to look at the economic and educational impact of this phenomenon as well a produce a visual map to show who has moved to where.

The survey is found at  

I am sampling using snowball sampling. I am sharing it on social media including a facebook group about educators in Oklahoma and Twitter.   And then encouraging others to share.  So my few posts of sharing, has a snowball effect to let others identify participants.

In the first 18 hours I had 135 responses.. (about 130  were valid and complete enough)

It allowed me to create this map after only 18 hours. Click on the pin to see where the teachers had taught in Oklahoma.

I am going to continue to capture data and plan to create new maps along the way.

But wow.. First,  what I am learning so far. People are so passionate about this issue.  Second, even after leaving the state, teachers have maintained an important network of educators and still care deeply about the state and their communities.  Third, we have a lot of work to do to learn about this problem.  Lots more info in the survey but this visual has a lot to say too.

My final, thought, I was a little in a research doldrum and I am so excited by this opportunity and idea..  Proof that research is driven by passion and the results can surprise you.

Thank you to everyone who is sharing the survey ( , and I will continue to capture data.