My Real Research Statement

Several months ago I wrote about my real teaching philosophy, which boils down to creating a solid structure and sitting down and talking to students individually early in the semester. They are much more likely to continue showing up for class, to do their readings and to pay attention to comments on their assignments even when they disagree with their professor about many things when said professor has expressed interest in them. This type of conversation builds solid professor-student relationships.

Once I have these kinds of relationships, I can more easily convince students to show up for class, do their readings and read the comments I put on their assignments. For example, last Monday, one of my students asked about my weekend. I said it was great because I got all this writing done on my book manuscript. The student seemed a bit confused about my implicit equation between writing and fun, but I told the student about my writing on purpose. I want my energy around writing to rub off on my students so that one day they will love going to the library, coming home with a fresh stack of books and writing. For now, their ostensible interest in my current book project is enough. (They are polite Midwesterners whose true opinions I cannot always decipher so they might not, in fact, be interested in reading a groundbreaking book about Mexican literature.)

I also have colleagues and friends who are finding it difficult to finish their dissertations. On the surface, their struggles are different from those of my first-year students who struggle with basic mechanic and my beginning Spanish students who struggle to put together words in a new language in a sentence. Underneath, they are quite similar. Neither group has paid enough attention to my dissertation writing reflections. The philosophy behind these reflections is simple. Make a plan for the semester and then divide it into weeks. Make writing goals that seem too easy. Then, write every day. Well, write every day except Sunday or another personal day of rest. Use pomodoro. Write for five minutes, write for ten minutes, write until writing becomes the way to deal with anxiety rather than the source of anxiety. Write a blog about tacos. And then go back to the task at hand.

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