Tonight I face a dilemma. I have just too much homework due tonight that I might have to skip my class just to make sure I’m able to get ALL of my work done.
I’m not sure where to begin this post, I only know I must write it so I can better engage in my virtual classroom. What’s ‘funny’ to me is that as a writer one of the biggest hurdles I have to writing is audience. If I focus on audience to much, or feel audience sitting behind my shoulder trying to see what it is I’m saying, and I feel their hot breath on my neck as they chew their popcorn, spilling crumbs and kernels on my shirt like dandruff, and I feel the inevitable, “What does she mean there?” or hear their whispering….I either can’t write or write rubbish. Rubbish born of plastic. Like the clear plastic furniture covers. You can sit on it, but are never fully satisfied because you can’t really sit and relax, you’re always separated from the actual physicality of sitting and absorbing the moment. That is, I can’t write or engage as I need to in order to give myself to my peers, and I can’t engage and write as I must for me to fully absorb. I can’t be raw.
In a traditional classroom, I often will go in before classes start, sometimes weeks or more before classes start, so I can feel the layout of the room. So that I can determine where I’d sit, and I can imagine and be a part of the physicality of the classroom. I do this also when I teach. I go to the class early to determine the flow of the classroom. It helps me gauge the overall class. This may seem odd but I’ve come to understand that engaging and seeing the whole space of an environment is important to my emotional and intellectual comfort.
So add this lack of actual physicality in the virtual space, and the audience factor, I’m having a bit of trouble. I can’t really meet my peers. When I meet people in person, I’m able to read their body language and expressions, and I’m likewise able to engage with them on a more full social experience. Online…well, I’m limited only to small, only language interactions based on an assignment. I know how I present myself in each post determined how my peers and instructors build a sense of who I am.
And I know that my understanding of who my peers are is also limited. I don’t have that moment before class to say, Hey, A.K. I really enjoyed that post. You mentioned you used to work for D. My brother interned there for a bit; what did you think of it? Or James, what is your management style as a Dean? Blah blah blah. This that I both am curious about, but most importantly am asking so I understand the actual person more. So I can stretch and become a part of their experience as much as they are in mine.
Level on all of that time, and lack of direction. I work a full time job, that is more than a full time job, I have two kids (2, and 4), a husband, and my family. I’m close with my family. We see each other at least once a week.
I’m taking 3 classes rather than the recommended 1 because 1) financial aid; 2) I’m hoping to not stay in the program forever; 3) considering the cost of the program, I need to sprinkle in my five dollar credit hour waiver wherever and whenever I can.
That being said, I’m also frustrated that because of these barriers that I won’t be able to demonstrate what I am learning and doing well enough to get the grades I need to stay in the program. And considering my difficulty in knowing my peers and my peers knowing me, I’m concerned I’ll be in this program for five plus years with people I won’t really get a chance to know.
A.K. and S.D. are amazing and have set up Google Hangouts for all of us to engage visually and verbally wherever we are. I’m thankful to them, and hope to take part soon. The first three times I always came into some issue. One I couldn’t get my computer to connect to the internet; the next I couldn’t get the necessary software to download; three something came up and I forgot about it until about 6:30pm, and having got to the site found that the video was already posted, meaning that I missed it.
I worry about the same audience issues even in this context because it’s a very limited and specific engagement, one that is recorded and posted for all to see, but I still hope to be a part of it and ignore my audience issues, because I need to know my peers in order for me to fully engage that way I need to in order to be successful in this program.
Introducing the first publication by Tower Press. The first American flash-fiction chapbook by Nuala Ní Chonchúir titled Of Dublin and Other Fictions.
The book launch was in San Francisco on 27 September 2013. The weather was perfect, and the audience was captivated. Not it’s your turn!
The book will be available on Amazon and directly from this website very soon. But in the meantime, you can order the books from Jodi Chilson through the Tower Press Facebook page using the Message feature, or by contacting her directly at jodi.chilson(at)gmail.com.
Not that I thought a doctorate would be easy, but wow, it is hard to keep up. So much reading, and I thought I already read a lot, at least with regard to my job. As the Coordinator of Theses and Dissertations I read 10s of thousands of pages each semester, but holy smokes. And truthfully, people are probably smarter than me in that they probably aren’t working a full time job that takes them 40+ hours a week (I have no idea how much over 40 I go each week), two kids and husband to take care of and cook for, balancing time with my parents and brother, plus all my other titles and responsibilities, and then top it off with a doctorate. No one else is dumb enough to take on planning a regional conference for a national/international organization, let alone deciding it’s a good idea to start a press and literary journal, not to mention the scholarly, peer reviewed journal I’m responsible for and the Pound conference I’m helping organize for this Spring. Oye vey. This isn’t meant to be a post of “whoa is me, alas, I am not able to do all this but look at all I do.” No this is meant to be a “I just can’t get everything done; I need to pare things down and say no once in a while” post.
Or, need help. Or just need to recognize I’m in transition, regardless of how long that transition is, and all is fine and good and dandy. At least this Fall, I’m a different sort of “threadbare” than I was two Falls ago. Then, I felt like I was six steps back from where I had ever been and I didn’t think I’d ever come back from it, mentally, emotionally, and physically. And now…
I’m overwhelmed, but I’m okay. More than okay. Hell, look at all I am balancing, however poorly I feel like I am, I am. Threadbare because I stretch myself too thin, but I’m working on it, and I am able to work on it. Two years ago, I couldn’t do anything, could barely ask for help. And now…
And now, I am able.
I am my self. I am able to write. And I am reading again.
I’m failing a lot. But I am also humbled, sometimes oh so very humbled.
I’m back creatively, and personally. I’m not perfect. Will never be. And still threadbare, but threadbare the way I want to be, raw and honest, and just working to live each day, and love each day, and make each day an effort to live in His will and glory.
So I have a few too many titles, that’s for sure. For my other title as the Newsletter Editor for the American Conference for Irish Studies, yesterday I was working on the new newsletter. I almost have it done. Here’s what it looks like right now.
Newsletters are like websites and books in that the design of them really matter. One has to visualize the spatial characteristics of space and content when determining the construction of the page. Anyway, so busy as usual. This particular newsletter is also hard in that one of the greatest Irish poets of all time died this last month (August 30th): Seamus Heaney. So, I wanted to honor him respectfully. I think I managed the right balance.
There are some really amazing tributes to Heaney online:
- Irish Times: “Tributes paid to ‘keeper of language’ Seamus Heaney”
- Paul Muldoon’s Tribute to Seamus Heaney: “The Mark of a Great Poet”
- Colum McCann’s Tribute to Seamus Heaney: “He Brought Us Together”
- A Tribute to Seamus Heaney compiled by The Writing University
What’s surprising to me is that I was taken aback by his death, but I was okay. However, when I start reading these tributes, or even yesterday when I was listening to some of the audio copies of his poetry readings, I found I couldn’t continue. I just wasn’t ready. I find myself trying, gingerly, at arms length, maybe looking up images from his funeral, sharing a post on my Facebook page that another writer, poet, press, or review has posted about Heaney, but I’m not able to delve into them yet.
I did go so far as to post as my Profile pic my picture with Heaney, and I compiled the short tribute to Heaney in the newsletter, but I’m not able to write about it yet…not really. Here I’m writing about not being able to write about his life or death, but this acknowledgement of inability is different than the internal processing and creative release through writing.
He was beloved.
I’m not sure how we’ll honor him at the Western Regional American Conference for Irish Studies coming up in San Francisco at the end of this month that I’m putting together.
The Irish Times
Speaking of The Irish Times and changing the subject… the glorious Nuala Ní Chonchúir, whose book I’m publishing through my TOWER PRESS told me today that The Irish Times will feature an article by her about flash fiction, and in the byline she mentions her new book Of Dublin and Other Fictions and Tower Press! Pretty rad. I’ll post a link to the article when it’s published. This is extremely exciting and a rare opportunity. Notice on Nuala’s website that the book cover I showed earlier here on the blog is prominently featured next to the gorgeous picture of Nuala.
Research Maps (cont.)
I plan to start drafting my research map shortly. Before I do so, I thought I might share a bit more of my insane research methods, which I noticed more of today while formatting an Education dissertation. While formatting the references list, I couldn’t help but notice the names of Journals that might be worth checking into; so, I thought I’d share the list here:
- Ethics and Education
- Educational Research
- Journal of Research in Innovative Teaching
- Educational Theory
- Theory into Practice
- Teacher Education Quarterly
- Journal of Authentic Learning
- Journal of Education Controversy
- Action in Teacher Education
Of course, there are a few names I see all the time when reading these dissertations; these names include Dewey, Vygotsky, and Lincoln & Guba.
I’m realizing that it might be worthwhile to include a ‘key’ of sorts in this map I’m creating, which indicates my poetics with regard to this whole thing. For one, I always think of what W.H. Auden says in his book of poetics, The Dyer’s Hand: The difference between a scholar and a poet is that a scholar knows what they want to know and reads accordingly, and a poet has no idea what will influence his/her work, so the poet reads everything. (paraphrase)
I find I approach all my reading like a ‘poet’; I am reading and trying to obtain everything.
During this reading, I’m actually discovering how much of my world was already “Educational Technology” focused. What I’m realizing is that I just didn’t have the vernacular or correct discourse to articulate how much of what I do every day is “Educational Technology.”
New assignment for this next week or so is a Research Map, which should be fairly interesting considering I have a very weird style of researching, well, anything. My research method consists of: read everything, and follow rabbit holes as much as possible because you never know where they might lead you.
For instance, for this Educational Technology thing I’ve gotten myself into: first, I’ve read the assigned articles. Then, based on the articles I’ve found the most interesting and the journals that clearly have greater standards in writing and research, I’ve sought out those journals to read more from the most current issues. Additionally, based on the articles I found worthwhile that we’ve read so far for class, I’ve also highlighted the sources I think will be worth looking at, and am looking those sources up as well. When I looked at the journal Contemporary Educational Technology, I noticed that they have only been around for several years, so I printed out pretty much everything, and I plan to read through all of the work.
I plan to do this with most of the journals I find interesting, and I’ve cherry picked a few articles this way already. For instance, I really like the quality of the scholarship in Educational Psychology Review, so I’ll spend time in this year’s and last year’s issues, then I’ll move my way through them. I’m not to picky at this stage, as I’m trying to get a grasp of the whole field, because I don’t know yet where I should/need/am called to focus. I’m also using my past experience with research as a guide.
For instance, one of the articles I’ve cherry-picked from Educational Psychology Review is a review article (doi: 10.1007/s10648-013-9233-3) titled “Toward a Conceptual Model of Mentoring Research: Integration with Self-Regulated Learning.” I picked this article because of the “Self-Regulated Learning” and the fact that the article is categorized as a “Review Article.” As a review article, I know it’s going to written by someone who has a grasp over the big picture of the topic presented, and therefore will help me understand the big picture. I chose the “self-regulated learning” because that in essence is what I and my peers are doing in this virtual doctoral program. I’m also further intrigued because of the conciseness and directness of the abstract, and the keywords listed echo further interest, as well as further keywords I can use to find more information about what I read in this article. Etc.
Basically, I read a lot, and I expect to read even more. Anyway, I hadn’t heard of the term “Research Map” before, so I simply did a Google search to find images of said Research Map, and I found this one:
This is totally what I want mine to look like. So exciting.
Yes, I’m a big giant nerd, but we knew this. Anyway, to my reading…
I also have a literary journal, different from my scholarly journal that I’ll also be working on shortly. My literary journal is called ANVIL or Anvil Lit Review. I’m currently finishing up the first issue, which you’ll soon be able to find here.
I first had a vision of using image maps, which I might in the future, but for right now . . . just not happening.
I have the work, and pretty much everyone that sent me work that I accepted said their work was still available, so right now I’m working on creating proofs to send back to the authors for final approval. These are proofs for the online version. I may do a print version as well, but that will be a later things. Soon perhaps, but later.
Regarding reading, I still have at least three articles to read tonight to make sure I respond on the forum for my virtual class by midnight tomorrow. The days just go too fast.