Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Teaching Who We Are

Photo via Dordt College. All rights reserved.
Facebook told me that it was eight years ago yesterday that I graduated with my Master of Education degree. That was an important personal and professional accomplishment! I learned so much about myself as a teacher through the coursework and research that was behind that degree; the professors I worked with helped me to review, rethink, ...and perhaps even redeem my teaching practice. I am the teacher I am today thanks to their work with me.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Doing What Is Best, and Not What Is Easy

Saw this gem on Twitter today...

I am thinking about the teachers that just graduated from our program last week. I am grateful for the chance to work with them, to have deep conversations about what good teaching is all about, to mentor them. But I am also worried for them.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Hearing and Doing

Today is, apparently, Soren Kierkegaard's 203rd birthday. (Relevant Magazine told me so.) Perhaps not as quotable as the inestimable C. S. Lewis from a century later, but Kierkegaard has some zingers too.

Here's the one that struck me today:
The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.
― Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard

That hits a little close to home. I know I've said things like this before. Perhaps you have too?

Monday, May 2, 2016

Grad School: I'm Headed to Fairbanks

Time for a brief grad school update.

I have submitted my final papers for this semester, and I have achieved a landmark: I am finished with my coursework!

This semester I was taking a research elective (Design-Based Research, which was absolutely fascinating and helpful for my current and future research agenda) and conducting an "innovative experience" (basically an internship intended to help me synthesize the things I've learned in my coursework and begin applying it to a real-world problem in a way that "stretches" me.) Both were excellent learning adventures, but I feel drained--I am definitely at "the end" of this semester, limping my way to the finish line. I think it is because I kicked off this semester with comprehensive exams, which meant a ton of extra reading and preparation during Christmas break (normally a respite from the hectic, 60-hour+ per week schedule of the semester.) Honestly, I am tired...really, really tired.

But despite this fatigue, I feel great, submitting those last papers from this semester!

For my innovative experience, my final paper was a reflection on the things I had done and learned, and when I submitted it to my advisor and our program director, I shared my joy at reaching this point.

In response, one of my professors encouraged me to think of it this way:
The drive from NYC to Seattle is about 2,800 miles. To get to Fairbanks, AK, it's another 2,300 miles. When you've completed coursework for the program ... you're in Seattle. But ... you need to get to Fairbanks. ;-)

Truly, I'm grateful for this encouragement. I have said to a few people that I am now "ABD" (All But Dissertation.) One fellow academic commented to me that I should never say that; ABD is often used to indicate folks who got to this point where I find myself...and then stall out, not completing the degree.

I needed that encouragement too. I am NOT going to end up at "ABD" status. I'm proud of the work I've completed so far, and by the grace of God I'll see this journey through to the end. It's been quite a trip so far; I've enjoyed it thoroughly, but I am not at the end.

So I'm taking a rest stop in Seattle for a few days here...but I'm headed to Fairbanks.

Image by J. Stephen Conn [CC BY-SA 2.0]