What Debbie Did … 001

dear dairy


Thanks to Ken Bauer and Ben Werdmüller for the idea and questions ! My previous blog post explains the background to this.

The core questions:

I’m not sure I will make an entry every day and if I will do the stretch questions each time but I really like the thought of answering question prompts so we will see how we go … I wanted to time myself on this but forgot. I don’t really want to spend long on doing this as a general rule of thumb but as this is my first attempt it will no doubt take me longer.

Deb Entry 001

Journal Entry for Monday 3 August 2020

What did you do today? 

Today (Monday 3 August – oh my word it is August already where has the year gone ) was a typical busy day at work. We are gearing up for our Online Summer Summit so there is a lot to keep me out of mischief as well as the usual stuff.

I start at 7.30am now and finish at 3.30pm which is great for my work life balance. I find that starting early helps me find some thinking and planning time. I caught up with a lot of stuff that needed doing.

I then managed to catch up with the lovely Ken Bauer for #educoffee chat earlier this evening which was a real tonic. We talked about how Ken has been running this initiative since March and finds it really helpful – it is his ‘social time’. It was so nice to speak to Ken – one of his students popped in to say hello too, I didn’t get chance to chat much to him as I couldn’t stay long though but it was great to have him join us. We chatted about all sorts of things from what I am hoping to look at in my research in terms of emotional support for educators, the importance of connections in general, affinity spaces, communities of practice, student induction, how some of these new informal conversational tools could be used ( I have recently been playing with something called High Fidelity that could be really useful … that reminds me I need to write a blog post on that ). We also talked about how we have worries for our pets who seem to have got so used to having us all at home during lockdown. That is a lot to pack into twenty minutes.

What did you enjoy? 

I got to share some photos with my lovely team mates today after a busy weekend where I managed to see some friends on Saturday and had a family day trip out on Sunday for the first time since lockdown started. This made a very pleasant change to my usual answer of ‘same old same old’ to the ‘ what was your weekend like ?’ question. This even included photos of a HAPPY teenager … yep you heard that right.

What did you find difficult? 

Hmm, I haven’t managed to complete my appraisal notes which should have been in today. I had started but not finished as other stuff just took priority.

What has changed? 

Well I have made my first entry into my reflections journal …

And then, there are some more ‘stretch’ questions:

What are you grateful for? 

My husband and kids who keep me sane and make me remember what is really important.

Which changes do you want to keep? 

I’d like to try and keep writing some sort of journal entry. I hope I find it helpful. I would also like to try and and get out and about more.

What has stayed the same?

Well I guess pretty much everything is still the same …

When did you last laugh? 

On the weekend – with my friends and family

Journaling / Writing Aspirations …

I must try and get into the habit of writing regularly and I am thinking that journaling might be the way to go …

Photo by Alina Vilchenko on Pexels.com

There are two main reasons for this: a) as a PhD candidate it is really kind of a good idea to practice ! Clearly my blog is a different sort of writing but I figured any attempt at regular writing just might help and b) I don’t think I am particularly good at being reflective and by writing a regular journal might help with that and of course it will probably be good for me in other ways ( eg mental health and well being etc )

I really like the idea of journaling … I used to keep a journal as a kid back in the prehistoric days before t’internet, computers and my probably poor attempts at adulting … but that was really only for me and only me – so I guess that would be more of a personal diary ? Is there a difference ? I’m not sure. I looked it up in Miriam-Webster dictionary but I’m still none the wiser ? Answers on a postcard would be most appreciated ..

In the last week or so I have come across a few different sources of inspiration that have really struck a chord with me. I so wish I could have the sticking power to actually do one of these things. I’m not sure which one I will adopt or even if I might try a different approach but either way I thought I would share in case they are helpful for others and also by way of saying thank you to all these lovely people for sharing their stuff ..

Inspiration 1 : Natalie Sheridan’s Blog, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and #SoTLwalk

https://acdevadventures.blog/

I’ve recently connected with Nathalie in relation to our shared love of Flipgrid. We are still trying to have a hangout so we can come up with a cunning plan. However, we have actually been connected for a while now and are currently trying to work out exactly from where! We are like minded souls … it could be #LTHEchat perhaps ?

Anyhow, when I was wandering around Nathalie’s most excellent blog I came across loads of really helpful stuff including her contributions to #SoTLwalk, the brain child of Dr Natasha Taylor – Check out https://sites.rmit.edu.au/seh-sotl/2020/07/19/join-the-july-sotl-walk/

I loved reading this post from Nathalie where she highlights her enthuasism for the #SoTLwalk initative

I have fallen in love with the SoTL walk. It is a great way to engage in reflective practice and with colleagues across the world. This month’s topic was more challenging than I thought. Once I began writing it grew vines and tentacles all over the place. So instead of sharing directly on the padlet, I am trying to disentangle here first. My walk began in our garden and looped around an overgrown path along the canal (because on this side there are barely any people). So nature gave me quite a bit to reflect on.

Nathalie Sheridan

This blog post explains how the #SoTLwalk went virtual during lockdown and Nathasha gives a brilliant overview of the initiative in this video. Seemingly it combines walking with scholarly activity.

This is something that is now in it’s 5th month and I have missed it all ! I am really very sad about this as it is such a brilliant idea. Participating in this would mean that I could a) give my regular writing a kick start and b) actually get me out of the house which would be an excellent plan as if I don’t do something soon the good old ‘Covid Lockdown ‘ weight gain will mean that I will be the size of a house if I am not careful …

This weeks theme is ‘‘When life gives you lemons…’. I don’t think I will get to actually think about that by tomorrow but I look forward to seeing what the theme is next time !

Dr Natasha Taylor explains the #SoTLWalk Initative

Inspiration 2 : Doug Belshaw’s Blog and #100daystooffload

https://dougbelshaw.com/blog/

I’m always inspired and completely in awe of how Doug manages to be so productive in all that he does … clearly not an easy feat … I have learnt so much over the years from him (kind of where my love of Open Digital Badges comes from) .. his blog is an absolute treasure chest of hints and tips .. what is so lovely is that he so open and genuine and gives such an insight into how he does stuff

Doug has been doing a series where he has been writing regularly with the aim of doing 100 posts in a year.

This is a link to Doug’s first post in the series where he explains how he was inspired to take part in this initiative started by Kev Quirk

I came across someone using the #100DaysToOffload hashtag on Mastodon. Curious to find out more, I clicked the links on a few updates that contained the hashtag, and eventually discovered this blog post from Kev Quirk:

What if we had a hashtag that encourages both existing and new bloggers to start writing? The posts don’t need to be long-form, technical masterpieces that should earn you a masters in English. But instead, just a simple and fun way to get people writing and sharing their thoughts. You never know, the whole might be cathartic too.

There’s now a site complete with some guidelines: 100daystooffload.com

Doug Belshaw 2020 / Kev Quirk2020

This is a link to the latest of Doug’s posts in this series – I just love how he signs this one off …

Living a good life is not a theoretical exercise : I have spent much of my adult life studying Philosophy, either formally at university or informally through reading and discussing. But living a good life is not a theoretical exercise, and that is why my Mastodon bio simply quotes Epictetus in saying:

Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.

Doug Belshaw 2020

… anyone who knows Doug would find it diffcult to comprehend that he needs any encouragement to write regularly ( as he recogises himself in the first post) as he is just so productive it is unbelievable … although it is so good to see that he knows he needs to take time out and slow down at times … this gives me hope .. even if I could have a little bit of Doug’s magic productivity dust I would be happy .. )

Inspiration 3 : Ken Bauer’s Blog

Screen shot of Ken’s Main Page

https://blog.kenbauer.me/

I found links to Ken’s blog on Mastodon . I’m already connected with Ken and have been for a number of years now through things like Virtually Connecting, but for some reason I had missed his blog series on his experiences during lockdown. Ken uses a set of questions as prompts for reflecting and this approach looks really good. I wonder if this might be something that I could do ? Maybe ?

The questions Ken answers in each post are :-

The core questions:

  1. What did you do today? 
  2. What did you enjoy? 
  3. What did you find difficult? 
  4. What has changed? 

And then, there are some more ‘stretch’ questions:

  1. What are you grateful for? 
  2. Which changes do you want to keep? 
  3. What are you scared of? 
  4. What has stayed the same?
  5. When did you last laugh

Ken mentions that he in turn was inspired by a post by Ben Werdmüller titled “Recording life on the ground“ which I think is where the questions came from.

This is a link to Ken’s first post

Entry 000 :
Yes, I left three digits there so this will roll over after 999 more entries. Let’s hope it doesn’t reach that number.

Ken Bauer 2020

and the most recent one where Bailey gets a shout out

Reading: Entry 103 for Saturday July 25, 2020
When did you last laugh? Our dog Bailey is good to keep us in a good mood, smiling and laughing. We are sure glad that she arrived on our doorstep almost three years ago.

Ken Bauer 2020

I also have to include this one as it has a piccie of Bailey who is like the cutest doggo ever ..

A Dog’s Life : Entry 009 for April 23, 2020
What has stayed the same? Our dog Bailey is very happy about this entire situation. She gets today’s title and picture because we all need more pet photos to keep our spirits up.

Ken Bauer 2020

Journaling during Covid-19 – Entry 009

Photo by Ken Bauer ( I think ! )

As far as I can tell Ken has mostly been blogging daily , even if there are one of two days when he doesn’t quite manage to blog a reflection in the series, it is still so impressive and VERY inspiring ..

So, all in all I think all these approaches are just brilliant and they have all in some way inspired me to write this so that is at least a start isn’t it !

However, there is a teeny part of me that is wondering if this isn’t another attempt at procrastination and some sort of weird attempt to avoid writing my research proposal and perhaps making that public ? Do I feel brave enough yet … hmm that is a question for another day …

all the best

Deb’s Bitmoji is probably having more success in writing …

Tidy Up Time

Clientmoji

When I was little I was constantly re-organising my bedroom. So much so, in the end my mum decided to get my dad to build me a ‘built in’ wardrobe, desk and bed so that I couldn’t move the furniture around. Hmmm can’t say I was impressed at the time …

I think that has probably stayed with me in terms of blogging ( weirdly … bear with me there is a link honestly ) .. in that I never seem to be happy with my blog ( or blogs)…

This means that every now and again I get fed up and choose a different theme or mess around with my categories and tag n’ things .. this causes me a lot of grief as sometimes I end up making brand new blogs because it seems much easier … then inevitably I find it hard to keep up with everything and end up faffing around so much that I get loads of half written blog posts and wordpress probably hate me.

Anyhow this has all resulted in my reorganising of my main blog with swishy new theme … this blog ( the original one) is the one that has lasted more than the others so I do feel a bit of an afinity with it … I have a horrible feeling though that for any poor souls that might follow me , they might end up with a whole raft of weird notifications and blog posts that will have appeared from nowhere ..

for this I apologise … and I will try to resist the urge to keep tidying up and moving stuff around ..

Bitmoji Image

The PHD Elephant in the Room

In a great blog post today called How not to be an Academic Asshole during COVID the amazing Inger Mewburn of @thesiswhisperer fame (btw who I am very proud to be a patreon supporter of ) talks about the prevelance of ‘Toxic Positivity ; not showing weakness and pretending everything is ok when its really not’ in the academic world , and that this can stop people from admitting that they are struggling with things.

Inger is completely open and honest about her own struggles in many of her posts but this one really struck a chord with me …well worth a read.

I remember at one of our residential courses, the lovely Brett Bligh gave us a presentation where he asked each one of us to think about why we were doing a PHD… I didn’t really have an answer then and a couple of years down the line I’m not really sure I have an answer of much substance now !

When I started my PhD in 2017 after two Masters, a degree and a couple of other bits and bobs, I was convinced I probably would’t get through the first year and that as it was a modular based course, it would at least give me some PhD level modules to ‘bank’ and probably run away with. That didn’t happen and by some miracle I am still hanging on by my fingernails.

I struggle constantly with nagging worries about whether I should be doing this flipping thing in the first place … whether I am smart enough, whether what I am doing is ‘worthwhile’ , whether I can continue to justify the time, cost and pressure that this puts not only on myself, but also on the ones I love … sometimes I just don’t know anymore.

Now I’m not saying I think I want to quit, ..but I am certainly saying that I am finding it soooo hard. I am often scared of admitting this but having read Inger’s post I am hoping admitting that I am struggling with things is half of the battle.

I’m really not sure that I have what it takes to get to the end of this thing but I am at the moment still on this journey. I had some time out last year only to return and then find we were about to go head first into a global pandemic. However despite some pretty regular wobbles when the usual imposter syndrome creeps up, I am still chugging along.

Inger talks about a recent survey from the University of Sydney that found that nearly half of PhD students are contemplating leaving their studies in the next six months … NEARLY HALF ! As you can see from her tweet there were a lot of people that read it and it clearly resonated with loads of people .. although this is a worrying statistic it its strangely comforting for me in that I feel slightly less alone now …

The elephant is always in the room

Inger reminds us that we are all vulnerable in terms of suffering from poor mental health and that while we seem to be comfortable with talking about Student mental health , we ‘rarely turn the spotlight on academics who teach and mentor them ‘.

This provides more justification for what I am hoping to look at in my PhD in terms of emotional support for educators during and beyond COVID19 and how open practice and personal learning networks can provide a vehicle for this.

Inger has provided some great links at the bottom of her blog post that are really useful .. she also always comes up with some catchy titles such as ‘ Should you quit (go part time or pause) your PhD during Covid‘ and ‘The valley of deep Covid Shit‘ and my personal favourite ‘Academic Assholes and the Circle of Niceness

If you are doing a PhD and haven’t already found Inger ( are you living under a rock ?) you can follow her on twitter @thesiswhisperer and her blog at https://thesiswhisperer.com/

Debs Digital Creations

I needed to revisit an old padlet that I set up years ago earlier today so I was prompted to update it a little bit.

It basically is something that pulls together some of the digital creations that I have made over the years, not everything as I am so bad at remembering to update it but there are a fair few on there.

Some of these are better than others .. I really liked doing some of these though … I still need to try and update it with some other stuff but here it is in all it’s glory.

Made with Padlet

PHD Help Videos – Cecile Badenhorst

I love these videos. My favourite is the one about the PPSQ . The link to a playlist with all of them should be below. Cecile has a really lovely calming voice too !