Isolation activities: thesis writing and running

I’ve been keeping to myself these past few weeks because I’ve needed to really focus on getting this thesis done. Yes, I already had a first draft way back in December 2013, and, truth be told, it was not my best work. I just wanted it out the way. Now, I’ve had to return to the original draft and start the slow process of picking it apart before putting back together. The resulting draft is much more streamlined, focused and something that I’m beginning to feel proud of. It’s been an interesting, yet unexpected switch of emotions. Continue reading

Thesis editing slumps, spring, and running

I’ve been editing my thesis so intensely these past few weeks and I feel rather *ugh*. Actually it’s more like “THESIS EVERYWHERE! CAN’T ESCAPE!”, y’know, that kind of feeling. I can understand now why final year PhD students seems to disappear for months at a time. For me, I’m not quite in the head space to socialise and at the moment I know I am a thesis bore. It’s all I can really talk about nowadays. I sometimes get into a mental slump these past few weeks, because editing is really, really hard. I’ve had to become very strict with my time so that I can focus properly on what I’m doing, but, the end result has been polished, or nearly polished chapters – a very good pay off to my self-imposed isolation.

New running shoes! After 5 years I thought it was time to replace the old pair. Photo my own via instagram (@eljeej).

That is why I’m thankful it’s spring. The warmer temperatures and the longer daylight hours have helped my mental outlook immensely. I spend most of the day indoors in front of a computer so I do make it a point to go out, everyday, and get some fresh air. For me, this is in the form of running. I used to run more regularly when I lived closer to town, but stopped because my current neighbourhood isn’t ideal, in my opinion, for running alone in the dark (early morning or evening).  During the cooler (and darker) parts of the year I’ve been weight lifting at the gym instead. However, there’s something about being outdoors that makes running more appealing this time of year. So I get out of the house, out from behind my desk, and give myself a physical break from my thesis. This has helped me to stay more positive so that I can keep working.

William Hogarth's 1736 engraving, "Scholars at a Lecture" from Wikipedia

Reflections on teaching in higher education

For the most part, the majority of my blog posts focus on the struggles I face when writing my thesis. However, this is not the only task that doctoral level students undertake. Yes, writing a thesis is THE product that one produces during their studies, but I don’t think that doing a PhD should only be about the thesis. There are opportunities to engage within and outside the doctoral research community. For me, this involved gaining teaching experience at university level.

William Hogarth's 1736 engraving, "Scholars at a Lecture" from Wikipedia
William Hogarth’s 1736 engraving, “Scholars at a Lecture” from Wikipedia

My undergraduate degree majored in elementary (primary) level education which provided a fantastic grounding to my subsequent career as an English language teacher.  The move from elementary level teaching to English language teaching is not direct but my initial TESOL certificate introduced me to a different educational field of English language teaching.  It wasn’t the easiest of transitions because at the time I was used to teaching children and the majority of my students were adult learners but over time I’ve managed to adapt and become a learner myself.n other words, it took me a while to understand that the crux of improving upon my teaching practice was to be a learner. I spent a lot of time trying out different activities to get my students to respond differently where, in fact, it was me that needed to change. In other words, it took me a while to understand that the crux of improving upon my teaching practice was to be a learner.

It wasn’t until three year ago that I found myself at a similar crossroads when I taught my first undergraduate and postgraduate level classes. The move from English language teaching to lecturing at university level is certainly not direct either but my previous teaching experienced helped prepare me to become better at adapting my own professional practice. Still, in many ways I feel like I’m still getting used to teaching in a HE setting.

The bumpy joyride of being a PhD student.


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