29 August 2020

Feedback is a gift!

I have just encouraged the tauira (students) I work with to give me some feedback on my teaching craft using the traffic light strategy:

Green - What do you want me to start doing?
Orange - What do you want me to continue doing?
Red - What do you want me to stop doing?

Below is a summary of the points raised. Overall the feedback was positive! (Which is great). I am not surprised at all by the comments that I talk too fast. This is the very same feedback I got over a decade ago from a long time mentor and by my cousin (who I invited to critique me last year). After reflecting on my feedback with my husband, I think it's time to do something about it. I have added the following post-it note to my screen to give me a daily reminder to speak slowly.


23 August 2020

Research Methods (my preliminary ideas)

I'm back into my study cave today and I am currently looking at the methods I might use for my upcoming research project. There are a number of methods that appeal to me in theory and today I am delving in a bit more to figure out which of these might be more useful/purposeful for me and this study.

* Autoethnographic research
* Case Study
* Phenomenology
* Narrative research
* Grounded Theory

Perhaps the method that sits with me is that of Narrative Research as it relates very much to the topic that I want to cover, I want to hear peoples stories/perspectives about listening.

Narrative Research

So what kind of research questions is narrative research appropriate for?

Well, I think it's particularly useful for looking at phenomena where you're trying to find out about things that are quite new, unknown, perhaps not spoken about very fully difficult sometimes to speak about.


18 August 2020

The perils of research...

I found this video by accident today, I was actually looking for something else. I'm so glad I stumbled on this as it helps me realise the importance of ethics, as Moana Jackson says "Perils of research (accepting as objective, as provable truth) something that may be a reaffirmation of old and bitter prejudices". When looking at listening as a leadership skill, if I were to be truly honest, there are some assumptions that we (including myself) don't 'listen' enough. This is a timely reminder to reframe my research in a way that is open to challenge/push down my own assumptions and biases.

The power of a research question...

I recently read a chapter Choosing a Research project by Cohen et al., (2018) and throughout this text there were frequent references to the work of Alvesson & Sandberg (2013). In my bid to be more curious and in finding original sources I have tracked down the original chapter and will share my reflections from that chapter in this space.

"Constructing and formulating research questions is one of the most, perhaps the most, critical aspects of all research. Without posing questions it is not possible to develop our knowledge about a particular subject" (Alvesson & Sandberg, 2013, p.2)

So here I am in the very early stages of my research pondering a possible research question. I am toying with my topics still so bare with me as I come to some type of consensus on this (or not). My current topic circles around the following ideas:

  • Listening as a leadership skill
  • Listening: The leadership skill you never thought you needed
  • Leading with listening
  • Dialogue: The dance of listening and speaking as leadership skills
To be quite frank I am struggling to find sufficient research on listening as a leadership skill in education. Hei aha, I'll keep exploring. Just I suspected, this article suggests in order to come up with great questions you really need to explore the literature... (duly noted).
"The need to better understand how to construct innovative research questions from the existing literature appears to be particularly pertinent today, as there is growing concern about an increasing shortage of more interesting and influential studies in many disciplines within the social sciences" (Alvesson & Sandberg, 2013, p.4)
My hope for this work (research) is to challenge some deeply held beliefs about what formal 'leaders' do. That is, those that are in formal leadership positions (entitative ontology of leadership) even though I believe in an iterative ontology of leadership (leadership belongs to everyone). So, how do I create questions that "challenge an audience's taken-for-granted assumptions in some significant way?" (Alvesson & Sandberg, 2013, p.5).

The following statement from the text "We emphasize the need for researchers to think through the purpose of their research and knowledge contributions and to resist pressures to adapt to dominant assumptions and be normalized, as well as normalizing others" (Alvesson & Sandberg, 2013, p.7) is hopeful! Just because there is little research surrounding 'listening' as a leadership skill doesn't mean I shouldn't follow this thread. My challenge now is to ensure that my research questions are interesting!


Alvesson, M., & Sandberg, J. (2013). Constructing research questions: Doing interesting research. Sage.

Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2018). Choosing a research project. In L. Cohen, L. Manion, & K. Morrison (Eds.), Research methods in education (Eighth edi, pp. 153–164). Routledge.

17 August 2020

So many readings...thank goodness for Mendeley!

In my previous study, I used EndNote as my referencing software. Throughout my years of studying, I have moved from Endnote 5 to Endnote 7 (and I see the most recent version is Endnote 9).  I found Endnote a little bit difficult and hugely expensive if you are not studying (got this for free or discounted when I was a student). This year, Matua Kane introduced me to Mendeley and I have absolutely loved it! I am still learning bit and tricks about what the software can do but have really enjoyed the ease of use so far. Check out Matua Kane's recent video using this software.

15 August 2020

Pondering my research topic....again!

I have heard the rumours that your initial thinking around your research topic will most definitely change as you refine your thinking in your research area. I have always been open to this...and have on many occasions stated my topic is "Listening as a leadership skill" BUT I'm not married to it. As I spend some time in my study cave this weekend I am currently looking at my research design. The following quote captured my attention:
Ignoring design is one way of saying openly to the world – ‘I don't care about the quality of my research, the wasted opportunities it represents, the waste of peoples’ time participating in or reading it, or the dangers to the very people that the research is meant to help’. (Gorard, 2017, p. 4)
Talk about, no pressure! So, here I am on a beautiful Saturday morning (in Level 3 lockdown imposed on Auckland, NZ last night for what will be 2 weeks) pondering my research topic...again!

I have found many of the articles selected by my lecturer to be spot on in terms of getting to the point about what is required and offering alternative thoughts on long-held myths - such as...

There are 3 types of research designs - quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods. No, this is not the case. Nice to know that now, given I have actually done 2 other 'research' papers in the past in my previous study. 

So, in a bid to add some structure into my thinking process I am going to use the questions asked by (Cohen et al., 2018) to help surface my thinking...
It is vital that the researcher knows what she or he wants the research to ‘deliver’, i.e. to answer the question ‘what are the “deliverables” in the research?’ (Cohen et al., 2018, p. 157)
What do we want to know as a result of the research that we did not know before the research commence?
  • To have some clarity around a definition of listening - but after reading a few readings maybe I mean conversations or dialogue?
  • To understand leaders perceptions of listening and their role in listening?
  • To create a model of listening for leaders?
  • To understand the impact of listening on teachers when leaders listen? (maybe this is not an immediate question but something to keep in the back of my mind)
What do we want the research to do? 
  • Define listening in an educational context
  • To support participants in understanding their own listening behaviours
  • Offer a multi-cultural perspective to listening
What do we want the research to find out?
  • Listening to understand what does this look like, feel like, sound like for leaders?
  • How might listening impact on collegiality and collaboration?
  • What are the insights/reflections that can be revealed from hearing participants stories?
Further points to consider:

Access - "A formidable issue to be faced here is one of access. Many new researchers fondly imagine that they will be granted access to schools, teachers, students, parents, difficult children, students receiving therapy, truants, dropouts, high performers, star teachers and so on. This is usually NOT the case: gaining access to people and institutions is one of the most difficult tasks for any researcher, particularly if the research is in any way sensitive" (Cohen et al., 2018, p. 158)

Positionality - As the researcher, I need to consider my own limitations, values and belief and ensure that my biases are in check. For example - I believe wholeheartedly in coaching as a way of increasing self-directed humans. This may impact my motivations in uncovering the importance of listening as a leadership skill e.g. I want to hear what I want to hear.

The benefits - What are the benefits of the researcher to me? Gaining a better understanding of 'listening' as a skill will eventually support me in my own coaching skills. I am really excited about carving out time and space to read up on (literature review) a topic that I find incredibly fascinating. The side benefit to this is that I also will accomplish the requirements for a Master of Education Leadership degree.

Availability - How available am I to conduct this research. Given the parameters of what I want to achieve what is realistic? I work full-time and also have Kia Mahira (where I coach several clients) and run workshops. I will happily read and read and read on a topic of interest. I need to consider what I want to achieve and whether this is feasible in terms of time/and participants time.

Boundaries - "As the saying goes, ‘the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time’! Researchers must put clear, perceptible, realistic, fair and manageable boundaries round their research". (Cohen et al., 2018, p. 160)

Research questions: Questions such as ‘what is happening?’, ‘what has happened?’, ‘what might/will/ should happen?’ open up the field of research questions. ‘what are the effects of such- and-such a cause?’ and ‘what are the causes of such- and-such an effect?’ are two such questions, to which can be added the frequently used questions ‘how?’ and ‘why?’. These questions ask for explanations as well as reasons. Many of the most useful pieces of research stem from complex issues, complex research questions and
‘difficult- to-answer’ research questions. (Cohen et al., 2018, p. 161)


Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2018). Choosing a research project. In L. Cohen, L. Manion, & K. Morrison (Eds.), Research methods in education (Eighth edi, pp. 153–164). Routledge.

Gorard, S. (2017). What is Research Design? Research Design: Creating Robust Approaches for the Social Sciences, 2–12. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781526431486.n1