“You are trying to sound too scholarly.”

Another great piece of advice from a friend. “I think you are trying to sound too scholarly.”

I’ve been researching, reading and making notes for months. I have found my common themes for my literature review and I have finally started to actually write. The problem is, I want it to be perfect. Even draft #1. So I tried to make it sound like all the articles I’ve read. I thought it was brilliant.

I shared my initial attempt with a friend a few days ago (because of course I need it to be perfect before I share it with my advisor – I know, I know…) and I received great feedback again:

  • Kelly, I think you are trying to sound too scholarly.
  • You are assuming everyone will know what you are talking about.
  • You have to unpack this and use YOUR voice.
  • Write like you talk to me.

Of course at first hearing this, I felt like I failed at my first attempt. But then quickly realized that I had to embrace this learning. My first opening sentence had six concepts that I assumed everyone would understand. Yes, six. We circled them. That made me laugh out loud.

I ended up tossing and turning all night, rewriting while I tried to sleep. And when I got up the next morning, I just started typing as if I was talking. I took that one opening sentence and turned it into a page and a half, without referring to any notes from any of my articles. I just used my thinking, my experiences and my voice. And I believe it’s more real. It’s more ME.

I think I’ve been thinking too hard. I think I need to think less. I actually found an article to support that thinking this morning 🙂

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/black-belt-brain/201202/stop-thinking-so-much-you-have-too-much-mind


Finding my joy again

A few weeks ago, a friend told me I had lost the joy in my voice.  A statement that triggered great personal reflection.

I was not feeling comfortable with the process that was supposed to lead to a creation of a research proposal.  I seemed to be going in circles. Circles that were not productive.  In fact, I was working feverishly, but I was at a point of paralysis and couldn’t even begin my writing. So when I heard “Kelly, you don’t have that joy in your voice anymore.”  I knew I had to take action.

After great critical reflection, I had a discussion with my advisor that maybe I needed a change.  As much as I could appreciate some of his theoretical constructs, I was not feeling comfortable with how our methodologies were not aligned.  I was experiencing a strong dissonance in what I wanted do as my research.  We mutually agreed that perhaps it was best that I seek another advisor.  As stated in the letter to the dean, “This decision was reached productively with mutual agreement and respect.” Phew.

As scary as this was, within two days I had secured the support of a faculty advisor that has taught me two of my Masters courses.  He has experience using the methodology I propose and has even met the authors of the theoretical construct I am basing my research on.  He is aware of my background knowledge, my work ethic and is appreciative of the research I am proposing to embark on.  A win-win situation.

I am no longer paralyzed.  I have started my writing and am very excited to get started officially on my research. But best of all, I’m excited to talk about it again.

I have once again found my joy.


I’m confused.

I’m confused.

Nobody told me how much work it was just to begin writing a research proposal and getting your committee members to agree with your idea.  I had always thought that defending my thesis was going to be the challenging part. I did not think I would be facing so many challenges at the beginning of my process.

So I’m trying to be reflective, I’m trying to think about the suggestions I’ve received.  Some suggestions make total sense to me and support my ideas.  Other suggestions seemed to undermine all the work I have done so far and challenged me to my core.  The hard part is deciding which ideas I’m willing to incorporate into my work and which ideas seem to go against my belief of what I want to do.

That’s the learning.  What am I willing to do without sacrificing my ideas and my voice?

So I’m going to question, and I’m going to listen, and I’m going to reflect. But I will persevere.

I’m also going to make sure that it’s my voice that ends up on the pages of my thesis.


The first official meeting – “Kelly, you are stubborn & exciting.”

I’ve had a week to reflect on the explosion of events since my first official meeting with my advisor. If I would have wrote this post after I left the meeting, it would have been difficult for me to pinpoint the essence of that meeting. So after a few days of mulling things over, I’ve been reaffirmed that I need to stay focussed. On MY study.

I have been thinking about a possible study for a year now. And I think I have been getting better at narrowing down my many many ideas. I started with a lot of wonderments and questions and possibilities and I finally think I am able to narrow it down to a cohesive study that I would like to begin. But when I met with my advisor, more questions were posed which sent me into another bit of tailspin. I already had questions… am I doing a phenomenological study? or is it a discourse analysis? or is it grounded theory? Can I just stick with qualitative? Will I be challenged to consider quantitative evidence and make it a mixed study? These are a few of the things I’m grappling with. I know what I want to do, but I’m having a difficult time “naming” it for purposes of articulating it in a formal research proposal. And then my advisor mentioned that I should consider interviews to bring in the “human element”. But I’m really not convinced that this will be necessary. So again, I needed to reflect and do more learning about the different theories and methodologies and try to compose my thoughts.

Then came the next point of starting to build a committee to support me through this process. So in the many emails that went back and forth this week, I have arranged brief introductory meetings with two professors who may be involved in my committee. However, in initial communications already, one of them has introduced another technological aspect for me to consider. So again I spin.

As much as I’m interested in listening to further suggestions, I’m very concerned that this new thinking will distract me from MY main purpose for my study.

One article I did discover this week that I think will help me in my thinking is: Choose your method: A comparison of Phenomenology, Discourse Analysis and Grounded Theory by Helene Starks.

Oh yes… and one more thing. At the end of my meeting, my advisor called me “stubborn and exciting”. I’d like to think about it as “sticking with my voice” and I’m thinking I’m ok with the exciting part…

So that is where I’m at. Will I be able to narrow down all of these questions in a timely fashion so I can stick to my goal of having my research proposal ready for a January submission?


The night before the first day…

I have that feeling again… the night before the first day of a new school year as a teacher.
As a teacher…
I am excited.  I am terrified.
I have great plans.  I have questions.
I think I know what I’m doing.  I feel like I have so much to learn.

 

But it’s not the early days of September, it’s the early days of December.
And I’m not meeting with my students tomorrow. Oh man! I wish I were – it might be easier.

In the morning I will be meeting with my thesis advisor to begin the process around developing my research proposal for my thesis.  I’ve been working towards my Masters of Education for 15 months now and my coursework is just about complete.  Now I get to apply what I’ve learned and formally explore the “wonderments” I’ve created along the way.

Writing has always scared me.  Incredibly.  But I think I’m ready to at least begin.

One thing that I wonder about is the fact that I would like to explore an aspect of Twitter in my thesis. However, my advisor has not been immersed in this online environment.  Will this be a challenge?  Or will I be able to embrace this as an opportunity for additional learning?  Perhaps it will help me be more prepared to explain and teach and possibly demystify Twitter to those who may not have such an awareness or experience.

I’ve decided to begin my thesis work with a narrative journal.  I will use it as a way to capture my thoughts, my aha’s, my fears and my wonderments.  I’m hoping that the archiving and sharing of my thoughts through this process will help deepen my critical reflection along the way as well. If my hope is to study the critical reflection of others, I feel I should be practicing and modelling it myself.

This time I am a student…
I am excited.  I am terrified.
I have great plans.  I have questions.
I think I know what I’m doing.  I feel like I have so much to learn.

I wonder if others feel this way before they begin something new?


2011 SMART Conference – Beyond Summative Activities with SMART Response

This notebook file is from the SMART Conference on the weekend of
October 15th in Virgil, Ontario.

Thunderbirds Are Go!

Download
the Notebook file from the session.


What I should have shared at #unplugd11…..

90 seconds. That’s what we were given to share our final thoughts at Unplug’d11. I felt the time frame just couldn’t capture what moved me most during the adventure. So I played it safe. I went into consultant mode and shared a let’s keep learning together and sharing our knowledge together snippet.

What was that?

Authentic-Kelly is usually the one you get. But sometimes, when I get rattled, I think I play it safe. I think when authentic-Kelly wants to come out and play, but she’s feeling rattled, proper-Kelly takes over and says… Just play it safe. Say things in a way that will make everyone happy. Don’t cause discourse among people. And yet, discourse is healthy. Discourse causes us to think and reflect, and go a little deeper into our souls and our purpose.

As I reflect back… the moments that truly allowed me to grow into a better version of myself go way beyond “let’s keep learning and sharing together”.

Thanks to @charbeck10 's Flickr photostream

I biked 23 freaking kilometres just to get to the location. And I’m still convinced it was all uphill! But what was even more awesome about that experience, was being given the opportunity to connect with others. Body, mind and soul. I connected with others’ souls on that bike ride. You can’t beat that.

My essay was authentic-Kelly taking a risk. It was written to trigger reflection in others by invoking a little bit of cognitive dissonance. And what matters to me is the level of personal reflection you apply to the discourse you may feel at times. I value that ability in others. So when I received feedback from my group that I felt was leading me back to revisions that would have been proper-Kelly’swriting, I felt paralyzed. I sat and stared at my computer absolutely paralyzed. It rattled me to my core.

Thanks to @kimmcgill 's Flickr photostream

I felt that if I made the changes, I would be removing my voice from the written piece. Something I had worked so hard incorporating. So I struggled. It was an emotional, intellectual battle. But after being led through my own personal reflection with some awesome questions by others, I was able to do it. I was able to find the balance between taking suggestions that would enhance my work, but still maintain my voice in the process. But I couldn’t have done that alone. Again I connected with others’ souls during the editing process. That was worth the struggle.

I learned how to solo paddle a canoe. It is something I have wanted to do for a long time but didn’t believe I had the strength (Physical? Emotional? Hmmm… not sure). I wanted to shout at the top of my voice “Look mom & dad, I’m paddling my own canoe!!!” Maybe I should have… my dad would have been so proud.

Thanks @tomfullerton for capturing the moment with a photo!

At times, I was so captured by the nature, I just wanted to sit and stare and open up my heart and soul to listen to the sounds of Northern Edge. It was difficult for me to find the balance between my own personal reflection time I craved, and the time I wanted to spend connecting and hearing people’s stories. But that’s ok. I tried to allow time for both. Learning how to paddle a canoe by myself was reflective and inspiring.

The magic was compelling. There are so many moments I have captured in my journal as a means to reflect and learn and grow even more. That’s what it was all about. Unplug’d11 was about connecting with other peoples’ hearts and souls, trusting others enough to be confident with your own voice, and feeling empowered to be who you are.

But the greatest learning of all for me, was learning about when I’m willing to sacrifice my voice for others, and when I’m not. I was given the opportunity to stand up for my voice.  And I am thankful.