As the teaching year comes to an end, it is time for me to start focusing on the ‘academic’ part of my role. This involves me burying my head in a range of research activities. Although I am still trying to find my voice or real focus, I decided not to sit around and wait for that bolt from the sky moment to happen. Instead, I have been reading and reading.
When talking to a colleague about research, they recommended a book by Cresswell. I downloaded it to my Kindle to make it always accessible. As I started to read through it, making notes and adding them to my research activities document.
It’s a very good book, not too wordy and very accessible. While reading chapter four I realised that I had lost something. Well, not lost more misplaced or moved away from something. My habit of writing.
Before I lost it
Every since WordPress started, I have had a blog. I’m not sure why, but I enjoy blogging. Whether this is writing a review, communicating my thoughts on a topic or just sharing my reflections and activities. There is something releasing about blogging. You start with a lot of thoughts rolling about in your mind sand then you organise these into paragraphs and sections. Indeed, when I reach the end of writing a post I do so with a much better understanding of the topic that I am writing about. I often go back to read posts to see the progress I have made with both my writing and my thoughts.
Moving from the primary school setting to higher education I knew I had lots to share and give. This blog was repurposed shortly after the move and I started to share my experiences and ideas about primary school teaching and education. I wrote a post every Sunday. I would set off to the local coffee shop to arrive when it opened, ordered my favourite drink and sat, looking out at the world and blogging.
I never seemed to run out of ideas or activities. In fact I had a list for several month’s worth of content. I always looked forward to the blogging session and I was really getting to grips with losing the passive voice, making sentences less complex and even learning when to use ‘that’ rather than ‘which’. It was because I had a habit of writing that I was progressing. But then that all stopped.
Changes need to happen
At this point, I would like to say that I stopped because I couldn’t go to the coffee shop to blog anymore but this would be a lie. I stopped because I felt that my content had no worth. Although I was an experienced primary school teacher my job had changed and I now moved in the realms of academia. I should not be spending my time blogging about homework topics and behaviour strategies, I needed to elevate my game and start to blog about academic topics and research. This was when I stopped blogging with the heavy pressure of imposter syndrome weighing me down.
However, it was while reading Cresswell that I suddenly realised that I had lost more than my blogging habits. I had lost my habit of writing.
Cresswell tells us to ‘establish the discipline or habit of writing in a regular and continuous way [on your proposal]‘. I read this and realised what had happened. As I moved and started to redefine my identity as an academic, I had foolishly removed all aspects of my previous self. I had thought that all the activities and routines I had developed prior to entering academia had to stop or be no longer used. To coin a metaphor that I frequently use, I had to leave behind all my legs that used as a caterpillar since my transformation to a moth had no need for them. But I had chosen to follow an incorrect metaphor. Although I wouldn’t need the body of the caterpillar or its numerous appendages as a moth, I would need the caterpillar’s tenacity, determination and, coming out of the metaphor, the habit of writing.
Select a time of day to work that is best for you, and then discipline yourself to write at this time each day
Rediscovering my Habit
Much of Cresswell’s writing really makes sense to me. I’m not sure whether it is bringing me closer to becoming the academic I aspire to be, but it has changed my perspective on my identity and what I am capable of.
Blogging is so important to me because I acknowledge it as learning activity. I now realise that I need to blog more often. Not because I have to, but because I enjoy doing it and it helps me to clarify my thoughts Through writing a blog post it allows me consider the application of theory or what I have read. While attending a recent webinar from PebblePad, blogging was described as ‘thinking through your fingertips’ and Cresswell supports this by having a section in their book titled -‘Writing as Thinking’.
So, this is the first of many blog posts about my journey and interpretation of articles and books that I have read. I want to, no that is not correct, I need to rediscover my habit of writing and again ensure that it is integrated and embedded into my daily practice. I’m not sure how long this will take, but I am determined that I will rediscover and develop this habit and strive to make the content more ‘academic’.
And there it is. Rather like an absent minded monk – I have rediscovered by habit! (of writing). Even through the act of proof reading this post, I have been smiling to myself with this achievement.
I release that I have still got a long journey to make before I have reached to dizzy heights of academic excellent, but I am on the journey now. I am reading and engaging with what I have read, and I am developing my habit of writing. Professorship must surely be just around the corner!
Creswell, John W., and J. David Creswell. Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. Fifth edition, SAGE, 2018.
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