Monday, May 11, 2009

End of AY 2008-2009 Reflection: What's Next

Grades have been submitted, data have been collected and analyzed for the most part, now what? This will be the first time that I haven't officially worked (at least for employment) since entering the PhD program. The past couple of summers I've worked as a research assistant on particular projects collecting data for literacy-sponsored projects, developing curricular resources, co-authoring teacher guides, and editing first-year writing textbook readers. Now what?

The good news is that I technically don't have to work this summer in order to pay the bills, thanks to a King-Chavez-Parks Future Faculty Fellowship (a fellowship offered to graduate students across Michigan's public universities). Not having to work officially gives me lots of time to work on the dissertation (something I plan to do all summer long) and prepare job materials, dossier, etc. for next year's market. So far I've drafted several chapters and hope to spend this summer doing major revisions. That's actually a good thing.

What concerns me is the fact that I don't have an official schedule with anywhere to be (other than a few meetings to collaborate on articles already in the pipeline). In fact, I don't have to leave the house to write, something I actually prefer doing. During my first two years, I had to physically be on campus and in my office in order to work because I felt there were too many distractions at home. There's a fridge with good food in it. A television with soap operas to watch. Laundry to fold. etc. etc. But during my third year I noticed this big shift: I actually get way more work done at home and can't bring myself to work in the prison-like concrete walls of my campus office. Just can't do it. I'm not quite sure why or how this shift took place, but it did. The other odd thing is that I can't work in my office in home either! Mr. C now occupies that office and gets quite a bit of work done in there managing our church's website. He loves it. As for me, there's a particular spot on the end of our couch in my living where I have to work. If I'm sorting through data, which as a teacher-researcher usually consists of student documents, I just use the coffee table. Don't know why, but it works.

Anyway, I digressed a bit. The larger point is that I'm happy to be on fellowship with more time to devote to writing, but I'm clearly not going to write for the twelve plus hours a day that I'd be home. I need a hobby (besides baking and cooking, of which, I'm sure I'll do plenty!) so I don't drive myself crazy.


SjP said...

Was about to ask you how the dissertation was coming and then I saw this post.

First and foremost, congrats on the fellowship! That is a great accomplishment and recognition.

Now, I hear you and I know that you're tired. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. But, you'll only see that light once that dissertation goes to your committee and you have a defense date. You are going through something that every doc student goes through - it will in fact pass. But, you MUST keep your eyes on the prize.

So, what am I saying? You must write! But designate ONE or TWO DAYS - and only one or two days - a week when you leave the dissertation alone. Take that time to step away from it. But, you got to get right back on it. You're in the home stretch now - can't afford to get too distracted.


Just had to offer my 2 cents to a future scholar! ABD won't cut it!


Prof. PC said...


Thanks for the advice. I have the motivation to keep at it since I'll be going on the job market this fall! In order to devote time to those materials, I'll need to have the dissertation drafted and in latter stage revisions. So far, I'm on pace for that. Thanks again for your words of encouragement!

SjP said...

O.K. long as you're on track :>)