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PhD Candidate at Griffith University, mummy, wife, teacher, social media enthusiast, avid reader

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Expressing my relationship with my blog

Today I had a good day. I am satisfied with my output and I am feeling more confident. I am again at the meta-cognitive end of my day. The time of day where I feel exhausted from the day of writing up my dissertation, needing to spend my last hour reflecting on the day that was.

Today was spent reflecting on my relationship with the participants, context and data. Thus, pipe in mouth (;-D @thesiswhisperer and @dr_know), I began thinking about my relationship with my blog and that I haven't declared my position in quite some time.

I am a teacher that likes to know how to teach stuff. I tend to absorb any information about the cognitive processes associated with any of my activities. I think about what I am learning and what techniques I could use to teach the learning. There is a lot to be said for the teacher that is not an expert in their field. Staying one step ahead of the students is an adrenaline rush and can be very rewarding, especially when both teacher and student experience a mutual light bulb moment. I had one of those moments yesterday and am still tingling from the experience of learning something new from my students. I yearn for those times and they become rarer and rarer as I re-teach a subject. 

My blogs are about my process of coming to grips with the complexity of writing a dissertation. I do not claim to be an expert or believe my way is the correct approach. Processes I thought were enlightened a month ago, I have discarded or regard with nostalgia. Processes I dismissed have now made a resurgence and again I swear by them. But the reality is, I am still a novice. I am still learning. I need to be flexible.

Many of the changes to my plans and processes have come about because I am a mother. My day is not as straight forward as leaving the house for campus and coming home for dinner and TV with my husband. Two days per week that I write involve feeding and dressing a 2.5 year old (who would hang from the ceiling if it was humanly possible) and a 6 month old baby. I herd them into the car, hopefully dropping them at their day-care Mum's house by 8:30am (on a good day). I am lucky if I can get start work by 9:30am. I am sure other mums can relate. My day is further complicated by my love hate relationship with my breast pump. I hate expressing milk (but love breast feeding my baby) and my day revolves around the timing of pumping. 

The timing of pumping is what has made some writing techniques (like pomodoro) difficult to rigorously maintain. 

Today (and I should caveat this through the emphasis on TODAY), I found an approach that flowed like mother's milk (sorry but it is National Breastfeeding Week). I started my day with 90 minutes of free writing, into my methodology outline, using Tony Schwartz's plan for personal effectiveness (http://blogs.hbr.org/schwartz/2011/01/the-most-important-practice-i.html). This brought me up to my first express. The second session, I chose a book from my field and read chapter by chapter adding ideas, phrases and quotes into my outline. Each time I finished a chapter, I went and fixed a cup of tea. The four hour session then fell into a natural pomodoro (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique). By my second express my brain was telling me that the day was done and I needed to spend some time reflecting on my practice. 

So we come full circle. I wonder how I will feel about this plan next week? I may love it or hate it. What do you think about it?

PS: Twitter and Facebook have been awash with tips and encouragement to help me with my writer's block (which, thankfully, has gone for now) and I will Storify all the advice in due course as my way of saying thanks to the "great good place" that is my social media reality.


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