Not Sure Where to Go From Here…

On April 30, 2016, I graduated with my Ph.D. in Information Studies from the School of Information at Florida State University. What a confusing series of emotions I went through on that day – from anger, sadness, happiness, and dread. It … Continue reading

I learned even more things this year

About a year ago I wrote a post reflecting on my experiences as a first-year doctoral student. I’m keeping the tradition alive by posting about my second-year in the doc program! I’ve grown significantly, both professionally and personally. Maybe even more in my personal life. But I’ll stick to the professional ups and downs in this post (since this is an academically minded blog and all).

This past fall semester marked my first appearance TAing in a face-to-face course, an undergraduate core class called Information Science. One major duty I had a TA involved leading a twice weekly break-out session. I’ve written about my struggles presenting and introversion tendencies in earlier blog posts, so these sessions weren’t easy. Public speaking doesn’t come naturally or calmly to me. But being pushed into teaching on a weekly basis has been incredibly helpful and terrifying. At the end of fall semester, I wrote a post about what I learned from my undergraduates. I’m always learning from my students. For example, last semester I found out that there is a popular song about selfies. Who knew?! Undergrads (and normal people who listen to the radio). This semester, through student blog posts, I read about boxing, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Ramen recipes. Stuff I’ve never had much of an interest in investigating. While teaching, I’ve discovered that each semester can be very different, especially with student engagement. This summer I’ve experienced a disconnect with my students that I haven’t in the past. Maybe it’s because of the shortened summer semester, my own work load, or just sheer exhaustion. I’m not sure how to overcome this feeling of disconnect.

Learning is Fun!

Odd Learning Related Image.

Over the past year, I’ve become a published author. In May, the Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults (JRLYA) published my first article, More Than Just Books: Librarians as a Source of Support for Cyberbullied Young Adults. I have three more articles that will be published within the year. Two as the sole author and one that’s a collaboration with one of my advisors, Dr. Lorraine Mon.I’ve learned just how time-consuming, frustrating, confusing, and spirit crushing the publication process can be. To add even more confusion, there’s publishing agreements to consider. Since the legal language and I aren’t very friendly, I reached out to the FSU’s Office of Scholarly Communication for contract hand holding. A very, very good idea. As harsh as it is to get back peer reviews, I’m still proud of the work I’ve produced; and I don’t want to sign away everything just to get my article published. The contracts I’ve received so far, except for JRLYA, want to take everything. After recently dealing with my third contract, I’m slightly more comfortable asking questions about what I’m signing and what I can argue for. Slightly.

I’m still learning to deal with rejection. Over the past year, I’ve had several rejections for conference submissions. I always take it personally, which I know I shouldn’t do but can’t seem to resist. Like many academics, I struggle with the impostor syndrome, that feeling of never being good enough or smarter enough. These self-defeating thoughts aren’t rational, but they are very powerful. Kate Bahn wrote an excellent article for Vitae about women, academia, and the impostor syndrome. It’s not just rejection and criticism that’s hard to accept, it’s accepting and internalizing praise too. Something to work on over the next year.

For the next year, I’m expecting to make some serious progress in my doctoral program. I’m taking my preliminary exam in September and (please please) defending my prospectus in late fall/early spring. Also, throw in a couple of conferences, potential publications, and a research assistantship and there you have my oh-so-easy third year.

What have you all learned this year? Any suggestions/comments/tips for me? 

What I Learned From Undergraduates

Since my first semester of teaching undergraduates face to face ended two weeks ago, I’ve spent some time thinking about what I learned, liked, disliked, didn’t understand, found funny, etc. about the experience. There has been a lot to process, especially with another semester of undergraduate teaching not too far away. I’ve also talked with other doc students, friends, family, and colleagues about teaching in general. It’s curious to hear how other instructors, not matter what they’re teaching, interact with students, develop their teaching styles, and assess their own successes (and failures) as an instructor. Mostly I’ve been surprised by what I’ve learned!

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed teaching undergraduates this semester. I expected to like working with undergraduate since I’ve worked quite a bit with their age group as a librarian. Until this semester, my experience with teaching undergrads has been solely online, with no interaction outside of e-mail. In the face to face environment of the classroom, I get the same energy boost I got while working with teens in the public library. The enthusiasm and curiosity of undergrads is contagious and motivates me to perform better as a teacher.

However, this energy boost also comes with an serious energy drain.I’ve been surprised  at how tiring, mentally and emotionally, teaching undergraduates can be. Whether it is the significant increase in e-mails or the self-doubt about my own abilities as a  teacher, this semester has been a bit more exhausting than others. To me, it feels as though undergraduates need significantly more, and with a greater intensity, from teachers than master’s students. It’s likely that the more experience I get teaching undergraduates over my career, the less draining I will find my teaching experience. At least I hope so.

Another revelation from this semester has been that I can make a mistake or goof up as a teacher and it’s okay. Students (and fellow instructors) are surprisingly understanding and forgiving. Being a perfectionist, I have a tendency to blow up a small mishap and blow it up to the level of a catastrophe. For every mistake I’ve made over the course of this semester, I’ve discovered something about teaching and myself. For example, if a student feels that you have made a mistake in grading/attendance/participation, they will call you out on it. Repeatedly. Via e-mail. Yes.


Teaching Humor!

Panic at the Lecture Hall a.k.a. My First Lecture

Monday at 12:20 PM marks the start of my first ever experience lecturing! **some sort of nervous, tense music plays** 150+ undergraduates will be perched in their seats, staring at me, probably hoping for the end of class. Ideally from my lecture, they will learn more about information behaviors, needs, and use, each of which I am interested in as a information studies researcher. My belief (and what I’ve heard from others) is that larger groups are much easier to speak in from of than small groups, like a doctoral seminar. We shall see! I’ve found (to my delight) that I enjoy my lab session immensely. My session has around 50 students, so I am becoming more accustomed to speaking in front of larger groups.

At the moment I’m managing my lecture related stress reasonably well. I have received a great deal of support and advice from friends, colleagues, and students. As almost everyone knows, fear of public speaking is extremely common. However, as an introvert, I find that I experience intense panic instead of the more normal (and healthier) nervousness before a presentation. More often than not, my presentations are relatively successful. I’ve only had a few presentation or other public speaking types of engagements that have been crash and burn situations. Sigh.

While I’m terrified at thought of lecturing, I’m also, surprisingly enough, somewhat excited! I’m incorporating Twitter into my lecture, which I am expecting the students will enjoy (please!). Since my lecture is on information behaviors, I couldn’t think of a better way to really grasp this concept than by experiencing it first-hand. I will ask the students to tweet any questions, comments, or confusions to our class hashtag #infosci. Additionally, students will be required to tweet during the class session three interesting, important, and/or surprising things they have learned from my lecture or the course readings. I’ve never taken a course that incorporated social media in the classroom, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the students respond, as well as how I well/poorly I carry the whole thing out). Look forward to a future post on my experience.  I don’t believe in luck, so please wish me something good for Monday!

Has anyone used social media in the classroom? What have your experiences been like? Would you recommend it to others?

In your experience, what are some the benefits and drawbacks to social media in education?

Teaching undergraduates is so easy! *

* this is a lie.

I just completed my first week of teaching undergraduates in a small(ish) group setting. Two weekly labs are required as part of the lecture course, Information Science, that I am TAing this semester. After the initial moments of sheer panic in front of the first lab session with 50+ students, my nerves settled and I could make coherent (somewhat) sentences. I’m not sure if this is the normal undergrad student reaction to the first day of a class, but I received a lot of blank, uninterested stares. And I had cat memes in my powerpoints! Who are these people who can resist cat memes?? What I found surprising what how quickly my panic shifted to a general nervousness, which is a vast improvement from what I normally experience during presentations.

During this week of labs the bulk of the class session focused on group work. I can see the appeal of this type of classroom activity, although it annoyed me to no end as an undergrad. First, lecturing can be boring for both the instructor and students. Second, it does encourage collaboration and learning through social interaction. Third, it frees up the instructor to focus less on forcing the material down the throats and more on how well the students are understanding the material. I have a lot of ideas for this semester, which will either be fantastically successful or fail miserably. Or somewhere in the middle with students bored and uninterested in my meme filled presentations and activities.

What tips or advice would you give to a first time instructor? For any introverts out there, how long did it take for you to feel comfortable in front of your students (or does this ever really happen)? Any particularly wonderful or terrible experiences as an instructor?

Teaching Stuff for Future Reference

Would have been helpful to me on the first day!

Tips for New Teachers at a Community College

Best Practices in College Teaching