For my first blog post, I am trying to think about the following question: What is the start of my story?  If I am writing about writing my dissertation, where do I begin? I don’t think it starts with my first words or even my first thoughts on my topic. I think the story starts at the end– the end of my semester, the end of my time at NHA. I need some time to process “the end” of a few things before I can start on this new beginning of mine. The first “ending” that I still haven’t processed is the end of this crazy school year.

This year, I had one of the most exhilarating experiences of my career, and one of the most debilitating. I was both simultaneously confirmed in my talent and passion for teaching, and taken down quite a few pegs in my abilities as a writer.

I spent my year teaching some amazing students at MSU in the TE 401/402 classes of the elementary teacher preparation program.

My students

Every day, they inspired me to think of new things– what it means to be a good teacher, how I can help people find their passion for teaching (and for teaching social studies), how I can be a part in this conversation around teacher preparation, etc.  It was by far the best experience I’ve had in my doctoral program, and I put a lot of my focus into developing my students this year.

Although they inspired me to think and write new things, I had one last (very large) hoop to jump through– taking my Comprehensive Exams. This was a six-month ordeal of writing about things that other people wanted me to write about, or write about topics I used to be interested in, but was no longer excited about. So while I was incredibly inspired by these future teachers, I was still stuck in a writing rut.  When the time came to write about what I was actually interested in– my dissertation topic–the year was very close to being over, a deadline to defend a dissertation proposal was looming, and time was running out.

Needless to say, I wish I had more time. I wish I had more time to spend thinking about the topics I want to think about, and preparing to research and write about them. I even wish I had more time to be a better teacher to this group.

I defended my dissertation proposal last week, and was left with a lot of work to do. Work I probably should have done earlier this year. I made a decision a while ago not to waste any more time thinking or working on things I’m not passionate about. This is the theme of the next year of my life– to give myself the gift of time, and work on moving on to the things I really want to do–whatever they are. I’ve got a year to figure it out.

If these guys can figure it out, I’m sure I can too.