Tuesday, January 30, 2007

And then today...

...after enjoying the feeling yesterday of being all fired about teaching junior high French, I talked today to a member of my grad committee, who is a big name in my field (really big), and he told me of an interaction that he had over the weekend with one of the women in charge of the grant at the university, you remember, the one who requested a copy of my thesis, and she was optimistic about me being involved up there, and so this committee member and I talked about how I will approach getting myself involved up there, and now I am feeling torn.

I mean, I haven't received ANY kind of an offer to go to this university, and yet I am already contemplating if I really want to give up teaching at my school.

I mean, a PhD program is SUCH a big deal, and this would be SUCH a great opportunity for my specific skills, experience, and interest, but I have so much to learn about teaching, and only continuing to teach will help me learn it! And you know, that is why I wanted to teach before doing a PhD anyway - so that I'd have experience dealing with the issues that I instruct the teachers I train as to how to deal with. (did that sentence make sense?) And my teaching experience IS teaching me about teacher development, too - we do it at my school and in my district and it is very validating, since we address so many of the issues that I taught in my workshops and covered in my thesis.

So maybe all this just means that I am on the right track with my plans. Huh.

Monday, January 29, 2007

I'm all fired up!

I just had a GREAT discussion with the other language teachers at my school, and I am feeling renewedly (I know that's not a word) excited about teaching! See, 'cause here's the thing - it's hard to find a balance between all the different aspects of teaching. Plus life. :) I LOVE interacting with my students - they are hysterical, and I think I have a pretty good rapport with them. I enjoy the time that I get to spend facilitating their learning. I even don't completely HATE the time I have to spend grading the assignments that I give them. :) And I am absolutely FANATICAL about updating and storing my lessons plans after I teach every day. These little things I can do.

But I'm feeling that I'm NOT so good at having an overall teaching plan / curriculum and making sure that everything I do fits into that plan. I feel like it's hard enough to grade all their papers and make sure they have something reasonably effective to do in the classroom each day - the thought of taking MORE time to develop my overall grand-scheme long term plan and make sure it fits in with the district, state, and national standards is EXHAUSTING and makes me want to DIE. And as I type this, and LIVE this, I KNOW that it's DUMB DUMB DUMB to go day-to-day, teaching "stuff" and not knowing how - or even IF!! - it's going to get my students to where I want them to be by the end of the day / unit / year. So I struggle.

But during our discussion today I got to see a little bit more from the perspectives of these other two teachers at my school, and now I feel better. I think I "get" a little better now that we are all just doing the best that we can, and that my "best" will keep getting better. I made a statement comparing myself to a French teacher in the district who is SO organized and seems to be SUCH a good teacher, and one of my colleagues said, "And how long has SHE been teaching?" Ok, good point. :) I'm in my FIRST YEAR. I haven't even taught my whole curriculum ONCE yet! So it's ok that I don't have perfectly sculpted lesson plans and flawless speaking tests and exciting culture units yet! But I CAN start NOW to WORK to be excellent! There is more that I CAN do than what I AM doing, and I saw a few of those things today, and was reminded that I KNOW that teaching is a learning process. Thank goodness! :) And, ya know, go team!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"Done" doesn't mean a lot to me these days

I am feeling a little bitter right now, so if you don't like that sort of thing, you may want to come back later.

OK, so remember that whole "I passed my thesis defense without any revisions required" thing? Yeah, well, two weeks later I am collecting the signatures after fixing the formatting issues and two tiny wording issues, and I just found out, about 5 minutes ago, that my department REQUIRES me to do my thesis as an ETD (electronic thesis / dissertation). I had chosen NOT to do that because of some material that I print from an Excel file and some stuff that I am citing but do not have WRITTEN permission from the publisher to include. Basically, it's going to be a pain in the butt, and I don't want to do it and I had already decided NOT to do it...and now I HAVE to do it!

erg erg
erg erg
erg erg
erg erg
erg erg
erg erg
erg erg

So one of my committee members is currently, right this moment, signing one of the forms, and then I need the department chair to sign, and then I bring it to the dean's office, and then I start the MADNESS of making it all a pdf.

Can't I just be finished? Will it ever end? I know that sounds melodramatic, but that's how I'm feeling right now! I just keep thinking, "This is the LAST step...ok, now this is REALLY the last step...ok, now for SURE I'll be done after this," and there keeps being MORE. I anticipate that the APA checking people in the dean's office will have some changes in my formatting, and I am mentally prepared for that, but I was NOT anticipating having to recreate a massive Excel file in Word or having to write to a publisher to get permission to use a diagram in my appendixes.

And the whole process takes twice as long for me because I have another job that I work all day every other day, so tracking down people in offices during business hours is something that I can only do every other day, so if it's getting to the end of the day and I'm ALMOST ready for a signature, or I need to check something with an office, it has to wait TWO more days before I can get it done.

This is taking forever and I want it to be over with.

erg erg
erg erg
erg erg
erg erg
erg erg
erg erg
erg erg

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Things that have made me feel like a grown-up recently...

...followed, in parentheses, by the reasons those same things also make me feel pathetic, lazy, or lame.
  1. buying a WHOLE BOOK of stamps to send Christmas thank you notes (I haven't sent, or written, them yet)
  2. passing my thesis defense with NO REVISIONS (it was a week ago and I still haven't finished the "no revisions" and collected the signatures I need to publish the *&#%@ thing)
  3. recognizing, and accepting!, that yes, Margaret, working "full time" DOES mean that I have to get up at a reasonable hour EVERY day and put in a full day's work EVERY day (that has NOT been my life pattern in recent years, which probably explains #2's parenthetical. And heck, probably #1's, too. And probably that whole "I understand eternity because that's how long it took me to write my thesis" thing, too. Ah well.)
So there you have it. What makes YOU feel like a grown-up?

Thursday, January 11, 2007


I PASSED!! :) :) :)

And not only did I pass, but I got the highest possible marks from all three committee members - the secretary of the department reportedly said that she's only seen that happen ONCE before. !!!!!!!

And not only did I pass with the highest possible marks from all three committee members, but I just found out that there is a university in another state that just got a grant from the government to do the same sort of thing that I did for my Master's project, and...THEY REQUESTED A COPY OF MY WORK! And that is one of the school's whose PhD programs I was looking into for 2 or 3 years down the line, but if I have the chance to work on this federal grant, I might do that sooner rather than later! AAAHHH!!

And my mom, from whom I inherited an obsession for nice writing utensils, was so excited about my scores (grades? marks?) that she immediately went and got me a beautiful new pen. :) And I'm carrying it around in my pocket today, chortling to myself every time I think about how well everything went yesterday.

I'm sure I'll write more about the defense soon, because it was a very interesting experience for me, but I just wanted to get the news out. :)

Monday, January 08, 2007

It's nice to have a different answer to give.

So in my world, everyone knows that I'm working on my thesis, and everyone ALSO knows that I have been working on it for a really, really long time. So in my world, one of the first things old friends ask me when they see me is, "How's the thesis?" And for the past 2 years, my standard response has been to kind of jokingly growl under my breath and say, "oh, ya know, it's comin' along."


Classes started at the university again today, and even tho I'm not taking classes, I was on campus doing paperwork, so I saw a couple of friends that I haven't seen in a while, and, predictably, they asked, "How's the thesis?"

And I took a deep breath and said, "I defend on Wednesday!"

And to say that it felt "good" to give that answer is only just a titch of an understatement. ;)