I always like the start of the new academic year. I was the same when I was teaching in a primary school. I see it has an opportune time to clear out the old and start new and hopefully improved processes.
So what will I be aiming for this year and how am I going to achieve it?
Before I promise anything I need to reset everything. I’m currently preparing for the modules I will be teaching on as well as sorting my office. I find if you are not asked to move offices then the papers and books just pile up and up! The same was true when I was in a primary classroom. It was only when you were asked to move classrooms that you really got to the bottom of those shelves and cupboards.
As we return after a pandemic where the majority of the teaching was online, it’s quite nice to be back in an office rather than my bedroom typing this. However, the office is full of paper and folders that were left here at the end of the academic year a whole year ago! Definitely, time to get sorting and making sure that things are disposed of if no longer needed. I never do this sorting all in one go. That would really do my head in! Plus I don’t like to overfill the waste bin in my room! I’m currently making my way around the office sorting, binning, and restocking. I can definitely see my progress and it will be nice to start afresh!
But it is not only a sorted office that will be a fresh start this year!
More of an academic
When I left primary school teaching for the move into academia I really wanted to complete research. That was the difference between the two jobs that I really wanted to engage with. So far, throughout my career in academia, I have found that my research output has been lacking. I have published once in a peer-reviewed journal and presented my current practice at conferences but haven’t really embraced the complete role of being an academic.
Mostly this was because of the well-documented imposter syndrome. Was I really an academic? Was I capable of research? and How did I compare to the others around me!
I heard a really good quote the other day – it was actually from the television programme – ‘Married at first sight, UK’. Before you judge ( 🙂 ) here it is …
“Comparison only leads to disappointment”Married at first sight, UK
This really spoke to me and I’ve started to think of myself as my own researcher. I’ve started to be prepared to put myself out there, to stop apologising or adding self-deprecating sentences and phrases in emails and communications. I have acknowledged to myself that I am going to get things incorrect, but that is how we learn, so let it happen. I’m not going to avoid things or put them off because I am concerned about getting them incorrect. The new positive academic!
Finding my niche
One thing that has really helped my research journey is finding my niche. I’ve always found it difficult to focus down on a particular topic or theme in my academic work. Over the past year, I have been keeping an informal research reflective blog. It’s hidden and private but it really helps me to internalise and reflect on events and conversations.
Although you might be expecting to hear me talk about technology at this point, I’m not going to. The theme that has really grabbed my attention is the transformation from teacher to teacher educator. The transformation that I am currently working on completing or starting! I’m still very passionate about technology and it will always continue to feature in many of my blog posts and conference presentations.
Autoethnography has also grabbed my attention as a research method. I would actually prefer to do use a method that I have to interact with no one at all – but at that moment, I can’t seem to find a strategy that replicates this or a question/theme to research. It might still be out there and I haven’t given up on it because it hasn’t jumped straight into my lap! You will be aware that there are two types of autoethnography, the evocative type championed by Ellis and Bocher and the more analytical type promoted by Anderson. As always I am drawn to the evocative type since there appears to be a lot of opposition to it within academia. I guess this is the rebel in me! Again, I’m not sure where the journey into autoethnography will lead me, but I do feel that I am making progress as I read more and more.
I read a lot and really enjoy reading but never feel I do anything with it. This is where this blog comes in. I’ve redesigned it, mainly due to a disagreement with one of the design software companies I was using and decided to move away from the waffling focus to engage more in the academic reflection.
I’m still going to talk about technology and teaching, but I feel that there are more people providing content for that primary school teaching area and it is time to move away from it and concentrate on promoting my academic role. Enter the Academic seems a more appropriate title at the moment, and I feel this will focus me more on what I need to write about.
Reading and blogging are what I consider to be a perfect partnership. Reflecting on blog posts allows me to engage and apply my reading and, during the writing process, I actually improve my understanding of the concept. Plus the more you write the better you become at it! I’m not sure whether this will feature in my research yet, but it possibly could. Reflection is a well-documented procedure and one that can really support improvement, so maybe it will!
I have probably talked about all these points before but it has been beneficial to write them down again. This post is all about new starts so writing about them has really allowed me to reconfirm them in writing before the academic year really takes over!
There will be more coming in this blog, so please do keep checking it out and let me know in the comments below if you have any suggestions or thoughts. It will be wonderful to have you along on this journey with me.
Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, and most importantly, stay positive.