Niggles and Wobbles of the EdD Researcher

I’m nearly there! At least, that’s what my supervisor, who has infinite, and what I frequently suspect to be misplaced, faith in me keeps telling me! First full draft due by 4 Jan. Second by mid-Feb. Submission somewhere around March, hopefully in time for a summer graduation. My thesis is all about balancing teaching and parenting.

And this blog isn’t a moan. Honest. I WILL finish it. I remember hitting the ‘no going back’ mark about five months ago, when I KNEW I would, having spent nearly five years of my life on it. Also, I find it fascinating, have so many opportunities to thank it for, and am quite proud of myself for what I’ve achieved so far. Also, those who know me know I’m more upbeat than I have been in ages. I’ve even planned my time carefully to ensure clear blocks of study time and clear blocks of family time and relaxation. And the next three days are clear. Which is lucky, as I haven’t bought many presents yet…

I’ve achieved something today – started writing the final two chapters in full, and I know starting’s always hard, and starting the end bit is harder than most bits, but I don’t feel as proud of myself as usual. Today’s been a bit of a day of niggles and wobbles. I’m not sympathy-seeking. Or even solution-thinking (except the backache bit!). Nor am I fishing for reassurance. But I’m putting these out there, a) in an attempt to shut up the silly unhelpful commentary in my head and b) to reassure others that there are times when it’s rubbish and they do pass. So here they are. My niggles and wobbles!

 

  1. Guilt, guilt, guilt. It’s the central theme of my EdD, and has been niggling all day. I don’t fuss over Christmas (to be honest, I’m doing my Christmas shopping today), but locking myself away with my studies three days before Christmas day felt like an indulgence too far, and I missed my family time.
  2. Twitter has been my biggest enabler and is now my biggest distraction!
  3. Everyone else is cleverer, better informed and better prepared than me. AKA imposter syndrome. I’m a fraud. Etc. etc. We’ve talked about this one before, I know… [Gives self a stern talking-to]
  4. I’M TRYING TO DO TOO MUCH. I could write for the rest of my life on this topic, frankly. My supervisor keeps telling me to change the world next year.
  5. I’M NOT TRYING TO DO ENOUGH! It’s too narrow, too exclusive, I’m not crediting all of the hundreds of voices I’ve been privileged enough to hear, I’m not giving enough emphasis to the subtlety of the dozens of themes that have arisen.
  6. Structure, structure – making the unfittable fit. I’m in a constant quest for the perfect structure, within each chapter and overall, to capture what I’ve already acknowledged are frequently messy, contradictory thoughts and ideas. This hurts my head.
  7. If you’re going to a job… do it PROPERLY! But I think there’s a general acknowledgement that there’s no such thing as a perfect Doctorate.
  8. Speaking of which, who’s right? All the clever people have different opinions. Who do I listen to?
  9. MY BACK  HURTS. This is a new one. Horrid backache set in about lunchtime today. Clearly the Starbucks sofas aren’t designed for five hour stints – who’d  have thought…? Any tips on this one gratefully received.
  10. I should be cleaning my house. [Actually, this one’s a lie. I rarely worry about this.]

 

See? I feel better now. Nothing like a good rant, in the wise words of @nancygedge.

 

 

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Twelve things I have (re-)learned this term

A new job, a new context, a new subject (!), a new team, and the learning curve is as steep as ever! Most significantly, I ‘knew’ most of these things already, but reinforcement is a powerful thing!

Twelve thinking points for the holiday.

 We’re all in this [insert adjective] boat together

This was the conclusion of a challenging conversation with an (understandably) frustrated colleague. This is so bleedin’ obvious and so easy to forget in the day-to-day roller-coaster. How do we ensure this principle is enacted daily?

Great NQTs are worth their weight in gold

These people, who’ve made the huge step to enter our profession, are SO valuable. Nurture them, challenge them, learn from them, keep them!

The Autumn term is tough

I forget this EVERY YEAR! Despite being in a job I genuinely love – and feel a sense of genuine optimism about every morning – November literally floored me. I’m coming to realise that that’s just the nature of November. Steel yourselves, and remember that what doesn’t kill you…

Great line-management makes all the difference

Challenge, support, time to be heard. I’d also forgotten how lonely middle management can be. A great line manager makes SO much difference to EVERY element of how we perform and how we feel.

The value of someone who knows what coffee you need

The people I miss most from previous schools: the caretaker and the librarian. The people who are around daily, always have time for a chat, and on whom you come to rely for a daily sanity check. Mary learned my name on the first day, together with my coffee preference and daily asks how I am – and cares about the answer. People like Mary make more of a difference than they could ever imagine.

The value of humility… and asking for help

Another obvious thing we often forget. We all mess up. We can all sometimes rush, panic, assume or forget. We can all be impatient and frustrated at times. But, this:

SuccessfulPeople

 

Mistakes are good

Growth Mindset has become almost a cliché. We tell our students this all the time. Why is it that we sometimes forget this with adults? The longer I’m in this career, the more strongly I believe that the setbacks, the mistakes, the crises make us better people, better teachers and better leaders.

Nothing beats a conversation

Time is the ultimate resource. There is ALWAYS too much to do. The wonder and the frustration of this job is that it’s NEVER finished. But the value of conversation – over email – can never be underestimated. Make time for it.

People are interesting

Something that really makes the difference to a day: a small detail about someone’s evening, their dog or their holiday. I feel genuinely privileged to work with interesting, educated and cultured people, and the moments they’ve chosen to share a personal detail about their lives, or a hope or a vulnerability have really made my term.

English teachers are a special breed!

I have been challenged, stimulated, surprised and touched by my team on a regular basis. From an MFL background, and having line-managed Sport and Science, I knew different subjects attract different characters. English teachers are experts at inference and deduction. When you ask them what they think, they sock it to you! Thy are clever, full of opinions and infinitely interesting. They have made me question ever element of everything about my management I’ve taken for granted!

 Teamwork is dreamwork…

… and other such nonsense. The chance to giggle, though not as frequent as it could have been, has lifted me no-end. From catchy motivational phrases to endless innuendo. Making one another laugh is so powerful.

 The C word

Not consistency. Not that one. Communication. The source of every victory and every setback. Not a ball to risk dropping, ever.

To love my job

Did I mention that I’ve got my mojo back? For all the teeth-clenching frustrations, missed deadlines and Alice-In-Wonderland moments, I love my job again.

Merry Christmas.