I’m went to a colleague’s thesis defense this week. She spent 8 years on this project. It was beautiful. She managed to condense 450 pages of text into a 20-minute presentation, complete with beautiful visual support, posters on the wall, and an excellent presentation style. It was all perfectly coherent and clear. The round of questions at the end was also beautiful, because her committee asked questions not meant to test her knowledge or challenge her work, but questions about future research projects, how she plans to disseminate her results, and other creative and respectful questions. At the very end she read out the acknowledgement section and made us all cry.
Officially, my committee has one more day to read and evaluate my thesis. I have a draft of my defense powerpoint, even though I don’t have a defense date, or any confirmation that the committee will accept that my thesis is ready to defend. I am inspired, a bit intimidated, but also excited for my turn!
Or heroine. This article is great. I love knowing I’m not the only one who loves her job but has no desire to work more than the 37 hours a week I am paid for. Thanks to The professor is in for sharing it on Facebook. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/the-awesomest-7-year-postdoc-or-how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-the-tenure-track-faculty-life/
This week I submitted the first official version of the complete thesis (366 pages including references and annexes) to the evaluation committee. I also : attended two Christmas meals at my son’s school, including spending a morning decorating the school gym and cutting up meat pies for the Christmas halal lunch; attended a meeting about health advocacy in the region I now live in; attended a union meeting where we voted to strike (for 10 hours, over the course of a month, that’s another post, maybe); met with 2 colleagues, separately, regarding courses we are co-teaching, one next semester, one this past semester; travelled to the city I used to live in to attend a meeting and a Christmas party; hosted the family Chanukah party; spent a day revising the thesis; spent a few hours here and there marking; completed the Christmas/Chanukah shopping; and reviewed a chapter where I am a co-author. Work-life balance at it’s best? At it’s worst? I have no idea. There were stressful moments, there was some celebration, now I wait 3 months for the committee to evaluate the thesis and set a defense date, oh and spend my holidays marking, which I swore I wouldn’t do this year!
The second draft has been emailed away – yippee! The references are all done, I was even audacious enough to write the acknowledgement section, so let’s hope my supervisor and co-supervisor think it’s good enough to submit to the committee.
In other news, I spent the week at a great conference, where most presentations I attended challenged my thinking and inspired many new ideas. I presented a paper titled “Revisisiting narratives of relationships with marginalized families during the transition to school: An ethnopoetic inquiry,” which, as you might have guessed, was yet another way to analyse my thesis data, specifically the data that didn’t make it into the thesis. The idea was to look at transgressive emotional data, shared by my participants and my own emotional reactions to their stories, as well as emotional memories evoked by the participant narratives. I was terrified, because my family laughed at me for calling poetry research, and because I’m not a poet, but it was so well-received, I am still in shock. Also, it was great catching up with friends and colleagues, and I somehow managed to drink too much every single night, which tends to happen every time I go to a conference.
Back to the busy semester of teaching, and marking, and administrative tasks, but first, looking forward to a restful weekend!
It’s a great semester so far, the three different classes I am teaching (to four groups) are going really well – especially the one I am teaching for the third time. I’m finally having fun and feeling like I’m becoming the professor I want to be. There are way too many meetings, as usual, not that I don’t enjoy them. I’m involved in a colleague’s really exciting research project, which so far has only meant meetings with the research team and with teachers, and accompanying immigrant and refugee children on explorations of the city. Article accepted and final revisions submitted. Planning a reading circle for professors of preschool education with all the other universities in the province, we’re going to talk about Beyond Quality (Dahlberg, Moss & Pence, 2007), which was one of the reasons I decided to do a PhD in the first place – to have people with whom I could discuss that book! So things are going well. I am very much enjoying living in the same city where I work, and being so close to nature. All good, except the stagnating PhD, but I am pleased to announce revisions of chapter 4 (the assembled narratives) are complete. Only 2 more chapters to revise, some references to update, some formatting issues, getting someone to proofread, and I should be able to submit the first official draft to the whole committee (it’s called a jury where I am) before the end of October. Woohoo!
So, summer is coming to an end. Course syllabi have been submitted, planning for teaching has begun. Committee work is kicking up, and I’m off to Italy this weekend for a conference. I received feedback on my initial thesis draft while I was on vacation, and have spent most of August revising, but I still have 3 chapters to go, not to mention the references to go through (now is not the time to tell me I should I have been better with my use of reference management software!). While the revisions are not major (I don’t need to rewrite anything, yet – the whole committee hasn’t read it, just my co-supervisors), they do take time. I’m a bit worried about keeping the thesis as a priority once classes start (2 weeks from yesterday), but I have a deadline (September, I am amending that from beginning of to end of, in a rare attempt to face reality), so hopefully that will keep me on track. That’s the update for today, the end is in sight, but still a ways off. Any encouragement will be much appreciated 🙂
I moved, with the whole family. Happily unpacking boxes and less happily putting stuff away. My official vacation ended yesterday, so I’m back to work (now only a 4-minute cycle away!) I got feedback on the first full draft of the thesis – basically I need to reorganize some things and find a better style and tone for chapter 4. Chapter 4 is my assembled narratives, basically presenting the data before I present the analysis. It is a totally different kind of writing (more narrative, less academic). I think I would be capable of doing this in my native language (English), but in French, not so much. I’ve got the academic formula down pat, though I still make mistakes and lack finesse, but I’m in unfamiliar waters here, and my wonderful and super supportive supervisors can’t help me. I’m thinking of recruiting a student in literary studies or literary creation to help me get a handle on this. I have a month and a bit to submit the next version, which should be the one to go to the whole committee. I’m also working on the references in my free time, and on other publication projects, and on prepping the classes I’m teaching in the Fall…
No need to mention the references, acknowledgments, formatting, and a few rounds of corrections. I did a practice defense because I was invited to present my thesis project to a group of grad students, the deadline keeps changing (due to my supervisor’s knee surgery) and is now during my vacation, but I just may be able to finish it before I leave, so yeah, the end is in sight!
I have a deadline, two weeks from now. Unfortunately I am also moving during that time, not to mention the conference/vacation overseas, but I got through most of the other crazy tasks I had to do. I ran 30k. I organized a conference (at which I presented 3 papers, what was I thinking?), and a networking event. I am almost finished preparing next week’s guest lecture and my keynote speech. I am so looking forward to those 3 weeks of vacation after the thesis deadline!
Sadly, the return from Bootcamp was rough – motivation was hard to find. After a few days of getting very little done at home on my own I decided to meet up with strangers through the Facebook site set up by others who have experienced a post-retreat slump. There are people who meet in cafés or libraries daily, in many cities across the province, to write alone but together. It worked like a charm. I went twice and chapter 5 (that’s my second results/discussion chapter) is done. Leaving me with revising chapters 1 to 4, putting all my references in order, fixing the formatting, revising chapter 5, writing a conclusion, revising, rewriting, revising…but the end is approaching. I think letting go of the PhD student identity is going to be hard, but, I get a pay raise, I get to not lose my job, so I’ll adjust. Still no idea of a realistic timeline, but it’s because a lot depends on my how my co-supervisors feel about the work I’ve done. Hopefully this lack of estimation skills will not continue throughout my career!