So last semester I did some research along side of my student-teacher supervising, and as I would collect data, I would stash it in a few places, like a dog burying a bone it knows it will want later. I had emails and written feedback of written lessons and written feedback of observations and a lot of videos of student-teachers teaching. I had their written reflections and videos that they recorded to exemplify one aspect or another of teaching. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Alaska, why weren't you coding it as you went along?" and my answer is that the design of the project required that I didn't really know which students were participating, so I couldn't code anything until I knew.
But now I now, so I ordered an external hard drive of epic proportions and started to move all of the data on to it in neat, organized folders, thinking this might take 8 or 9 hours, but . . . I was so wrong.
It turns out that a) at least one of the folder bones is just plain gone. Thankfully every attachment sent by email is kept my our campus web mail, and therefore, I have everything back in one form or another, but retrieving them meant going back through over 300 emails to find them all. b) There were issues with mac v. pc and I lost precious time translating files into forms everything on my pc could read. I needed everything on the pc so I could use NVivo 9 to organize it all, but holy cow . . . what a chore.
So, I feel hopelessly behind now in my coding and completely overwhelmed by the amount of data, but I am gritting my teeth and plowing forward. The one good thing--it's forcing me to choose between coding EVERYTHING and finding those items that will reveal the most about what I want (i.e., I found myself going to great pains to record a series of emails about the cultural content of a lesson. This is not unrelated to classroom management, because lessons that do not include material accessible to students (e.g., it's above their heads in some way, they have insufficient background knowledge, it's taught in a language they don't understand) are inevitably classroom management problems waiting to happen. But I really don't need to go that broard. I think I can show what I want to show just looking at teacher response to student misbehavior--and that makes me breathe a sigh of relief because that means I do not need to look back at all the written lesson plans until I suspect that lesson design was the cause of the problem and I need to support that assertion. Does that make sense? (Nod your head, sip your drink, look interested.)
Anyway, this is actually HUGELY helpful to me. It helps me see the wisdom in my advisor's comment that going into the (new) research project for this spring, I might want to focus on only three class periods with these students--versus trying to code every minute of the 16 to 20 sessions that we will meet.
But in the meantime, between teaching two classes, taking three classes, and working with the data monster of my MA Thesis, it's going to be a very, very busy semester. Maybe not so much time for knitting.