It’s Week 4 of the fall semester, and just like every other fall semester of my doctoral studies, Week 4 is the “holy shit, I have a lot of work to do this semester” week. For some reason, it’s always Week 4 where this hits me, and this makes sense. It takes a couple weeks to get out of summer mode which is still productive but let’s be real, far more relaxed. It takes a couple weeks to start making commitments for the next few weeks ahead, a couple more for the first assignments and deadlines to come in, and then…you’re in Week 4 and you realize that you are in deep. Whenever I have gotten overwhelmed in the past, I always try to prioritize. Trouble is, everything is a top priority right now.

Top Priority: Looking for jobs. Since I have previously mentioned numerous times that I am now working without a net this year, you would think trying to find a net would be my most top priority at the moment. Applying for academic jobs is surely far more complex than anything I’ve done before to get a job. I need to prepare a cover letter that brags about how awesome I am in the shortest amount of words possible, a CV that certainly has holes in it that I’m hoping job interviewers overlook (that publications section certainly is thin…maybe that should be a priority…), letters of recommendation from my committee, transcripts (even from my undergrad days at CMU!), and a teaching statement. Surprisingly, I have never written in words what I believe about teaching. I’ve certainly espoused it enough to my friends and family, but writing it? That could take a while. As of now there are three jobs in West Michigan that I am applying for, one even here in Holland at Hope College (2 others at GVSU).  I am excited about job possibilities in this area, so this needs to be top priority. Or should it be…

Top Priority: My dissertation. Hmmmm. Perhaps this should be top priority, especially considering  that I have now met my students that I will be studying and I really want to put my best effort into planning a great learning experience for them. This week I interviewed them, assessed them on their knowledge, talked to their teacher about what they are like and what they know and I am really excited to give them the experience of One Hen. I’m beginning to now picture how chapters of my dissertation could go. I’m getting excited to get more into my writing. So, I guess this should be top priority. Or should it be…

Top Priority: Teaching. The good part about Week 4 is that it’s the week where my classes really start to gel. Last week we went to the historical museum together, and nothing bonds a class like a successful field trip to a fun place like a historical museum. I realize this sounds like sarcasm but it really isn’t. The Michigan Historical Center is a great place to learn Michigan history, it’s very interactive and well done, and my students loved it last year too. When we have the experience of going there together, and then have a class where we start to talk about students’ needs and learner diversity and we discover we have a common bond of caring about students…then it all clicks. I had some great classes this week and I want to continue my commitment to these future teachers. So maybe this should be a top priority. Or perhaps it’s…

My husband? My friends? My fantasy football teams? (Both 2-0 so far this season, thanks!) All of those are top priorities too. Turns out, everything is.  Sigh. Well, in the words of Academic Tim Gunn:

 

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