I can't believe the holidays are over, they seem to have really flown by! I went back to work on Saturday and yesterday was spent on a course to learn the new Grade 5 tap (I.S.T.D.), which was tiring but a lot of fun.
This is the first week of term for both schools that are helping me with my inquiry.
As I want to give each participant the maximum amount of time, during the four weeks that I have set aside for the first part of my data collection, I have been planning and organising the letters, diaries and timings so that I can provide the students with everything they need over the next few days.
The diary itself is a little notebook, which I bought in two colours (see picture below). I felt this would make it (1) easier to keep track of them, for giving out and collecting in purposes, and (2) give me another possible avenue of analysis, i.e. comparing one school's responses to the other.
I have added my contact details to each diary, so that I am easily available to the participants to answer questions and discuss, and hopefully reduce or remove, any concerns.
I have also numbered each diary so that when it comes to interview I can assign the interview tape the same number to ensure integrity, consistency and allow for triangulation, etc.
To let each participant know exactly what it is I would like them to do I have produced a letter, which you can see here.
I have matched the colour palette of the letter to the diary cover (i.e. orange and blue) with the aim of making it feel more user-friendly for participants, and have included in the contents of the letter the aims of the inquiry, advice on confidentiality and reinforcement about the need for honesty in what they put in their diary.
I have deliberately not stated 'how much' I would like participants to do, for example, that they must write before and after every class or write a page for each section, as I don't want to put unnecessary pressure on the participants or make taking part in this study feel like a chore. Of course, it would be wonderful if I get back diaries that have been entered in regularly and that are full of insight and detail but I realise that, although my inquiry is high on my list of priorities, taking part in this research is not necessarily going to be top of my students list!
Before finalising the content of the letter I asked people in my professional network to read through it and let me know their thoughts. I was very keen to produce a letter that was clear, concise, and therefore suitable for the students it is aimed at. Feedback was positive about both the language used and the layout/ length of the letter.
I still believe that it is important for me to verbally instruct my participants too, so that I am building on the researcher/ teacher - student relationship, but I am also aware that I must not encroach on any class time nor detain them after lessons for too long in order to do so. My plan is to have a brief, and private (i.e. not in front of non-participants), conversation with my students during the 'change over' period between classes.
I also intend to reiterate that they can choose to stop participating at any point during the inquiry.
By providing both verbal and written instruction, and giving quick and easy access (via text, call or email) to me outside of 'school time' I aim to ensure that everyone is clear and happy about their involvement.
I am really looking forward to starting on this next stage of my inquiry; it's a step into the unknown but one that I am excited about taking.