End of Term Reflection

Teaching is over. It’s the Easter holidays, and the way term has fallen this year, there’s no teaching once we go back – just exams. I’ve absolutely loved teaching this year, and I’m really going to miss my students. It was stressful at times, trying to fit it all in with the PhD, writing papers, and my creative writing, but it’s been brilliant. I’ve had a lot more input with the teaching this year – I’ve created a tonne more lesson plans, written lectures, and had some input in the overall planning. I’ve taught on both literature and creative writing modules, which was lush. I’m a bit gutted that it’s over, but I’m also really looking forward to immersing myself in my research.

I’m applying for a few jobs, too. I’ve realised that I’m not great at bigging myself up – I know that I can absolutely smash these jobs, I know that I can engage the students and really get them involved in their own learning – but I need to get better at letting other people know that. Seeing the student feedback for my modules has given me the boost I need, though. There were some really lovely comments about my seminars and lectures – I even had students saying that they enjoyed critical theory (which, as you may know, is rare at level 4).

Being realistic, however, the job market is tough at the moment. So if I don’t get these posts, then I need a plan for what to do next. I’ll obviously need a job to see me through – I’ll be keeping my eye out for those, too. But I also want to keep on building on my skills – I want to be able to show, without a doubt, that I’d be an asset to any university. My field of research is cutting edge, and I’ve got some ideas for how I can build a module that feeds into that. I also think it’s something I could get the public engaged with. I want to branch out more with my creative writing – maybe work on some collaborative projects. Which is all stuff I’d do even if I did get a job, but thinking CV-wise, these might give it a boost.

Next week I’m heading to Talking Bodies 2017 – you may remember my review of TB15 – I’ll be doing another one for this year’s talks. I’m also presenting a paper (at 9am on the Friday!), which I THINK I now have down to time. But I’ll rehearse it a few more times. Really looking forward to the conference, it’s such an amazing space – there are literally hundreds of absolutely brilliant and interesting people talking about stuff they’re passionate about. The organiser, Emma Rees, is an actual star.

Anyway, for now, I’m getting over the lurg, applying for jobs, and leaping back into my research. I’ve also bought some really great books recently, so I might even take a moment to read something non-research related. Shocking, I know.

 

This is my top academic hack at the moment – thinking of making a series of ‘ac-hacks’.

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All or Nothing

It’s a well-known issue in diet advice that the ‘all or nothing’ approach won’t work – it’s a short-term fix that will eventually backfire. People tackle this in different ways, some build a ‘treat’ into every day, some people save up calories for a cheat day, some people (like the Rock), save themselves for a mega blow-out every few months. It’s all about whatever makes it practical and sustainable for each individual.

I absolutely fail at this. I am 100% all or nothing. This trait has permeated throughout my entire life – I’ve justified it regarding my thesis, I have a really terrible memory so if I step away from it for more than a day, I have to re-read everything in order to get back into the swing; it takes me a while to warm up into writing, so if I only gave myself an hour or so, I’d get nothing done – etc. However, I’ve noticed that it’s taken over other areas of my life – I won’t read a book unless I can finish it in one or two sittings, I won’t watch a programme unless I can binge watch it; I can’t watch random episodes, even if it’s a show I’ve seen before, I have to start at the beginning and see the whole thing through. It’s an issue.

The PhD takes over your life – I’ve joked that if in my viva they ask me to prove it’s all my own work, I’ll just point them at the three years of social media flailings about my thesis. (Personal update – it turns out that if you go outside, eat well and do occasional exercise, the world doesn’t feel as though it’s ending). So, in accepting that the thesis is bound to take over your life, the next step is probably to understand how thesis-related behaviours do the same.  I used to be able to watch TV and do homework, I used to be able to listen to music and read a book, I used to watch random bits of telly rather than streaming specific programmes, I used to read a couple of chapters a night. The focused dedication of the PhD seems to have rewired my brain into a new set of habits. Ones that I’m not certain are entirely healthy.

I’ve isolated the issue, so what’s the next step? Forcing myself to watch regular telly? Making myself read novels even if it’ll take me a week or two to finish them? Trying to fit work into random spare hours? I don’t really know yet – if anyone has any suggestions let me know.

In other news, my abstract for Talking Bodies 2017 was accepted – yay! That happens in April. I’m almost halfway through my final chapter – hoping to have it mostly done by Friday. Then it’s just the intro, conclusion and editing. It was my birthday last week, my best mates came up north for four days, we saw Fantastic Beasts, hobbited our way round some excellent ruins, and engaged in an all or nothing approach to cake (emphasis on the ‘all’).  After they left I had to crack on with some teaching bits and bobs, and now I’m back to the chapter.

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