Dec 062010

I’m not sure why I’m writing this.

Let me clarify.

After my unintended hiatus, I kind of got into a routine of blogging every Sunday — similar, I discovered, to how Kim Cofino blogs regularly. And I was happy to be writing again.

But now, here I am at 1:17am (okay, 2:30 after editing) and completely burnt out. I’ve stayed away from Twitter nearly all day (unusual for me as of late). The past 5 weeks, I’ve spent an average of 9 hours/day at the library. My wrists and elbows are sore, my back aches, and my brain feels like mush. But I must go on. I have no choice.

My thesis presentation is on Friday. The final document is due on Wednesday, December 15. I’m stressed and bogged down. I am not where I thought I would be at this moment, despite meticulous planning and organizing, and mountains of work already done. I’m insecure about my entire thesis project and fearful that once I present, people’s reactions will be, “That’s it? You’ve spent the last 4 months on this? Really?” I am afraid that what I have to show will not be representative of what I’m capable of doing. And this saddens me. I hate that this fear lurks inside me.

Here’s what I want my thesis (and its presentation) to demonstrate:

  • that I can apply learning theory and research to the design of a digital space intended for learning
  • that I can design a digital space intended for learning
  • that I know what tools and features support the creation of a community in a learning space
  • that theory and practice need a bridge
  • that designing learning spaces isn’t easy
  • that formal learning environments can still have a community element
  • that teachers need a community of practice to learn, thrive, and grow
  • that the teaching profession is dependent upon communities of practice if it is to develop and evolve
  • that the IB wants teachers to learn and grow together in a supported environment
  • that I don’t have all the answers, but dangit I have a few really good ones

And here is what I fear that my thesis (and its presentation) will actually show/say/demonstrate:

  • Dude, that’s one sad-looking website.
  • Is that all? You mean there’s no more?
  • Wait, don’t all websites have social elements these days? You did how much research to figure that out? Man, I coulda told you that in 10 minutes looking at one page of that “learning environment.”
  • Huh, what’s the theory again? and why is it relevant? Theory schmeary.
  • That doesn’t look like a place where any learning will happen.
  • This would be cooler if she designed something totally new.
  • That Adrienne doesn’t know how to design anything — she went to grad school for this?
  • Wow, the IB sure has strict professional development guidelines.
  • I don’t get it.

Put your money down, folks. Which side will win this battle — Thesis wants or Thesis fears?

So why am I laying it all out here in the open? I guess to make it real. That’s part of it. Another part of it, I think is to document what I’m thinking and feeling, so that I can look back on this and remind myself that sometimes insecurities make us stronger (at least I’m hoping that in the end of this I come out stronger!). I guess I’m also sharing with you in the hopes that you’ll give me some feedback, push me along, tell me what I’m doing is worthwhile, etc. — yeah, so maybe I’m fishing for a bit of an ego boost. That’s what happens when we get insecure, isn’t it?

I’ve been giving myself a pep talk the last couple of hours but it isn’t working so well. I think being sleep-deprived isn’t helping my mood. Sava‘s been trying to puff me up a bit too — her feedback has been tremendously helpful and I’m infinitely grateful. But she is also in the midst of designing her own projects, and I know she is stressed and tired, too.

It’s finals week for everyone.

Whose idea was it for me finish my thesis project in the weeks leading up to Christmas, anyway? That person needs her head checked. She’s obviously never before done a thesis project involving research and design.

What was she thinking?

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 6 December, 2010  Posted by at 2:31 am Academia, On the Personal Side, ThesisLand Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  Add comments

  4 Responses to “Wants vs. Fears: who will win?”

Comments (4)
  1. I have the same fears.

    and, I’ve said this to you in person, but I’ll say it here again:
    honey, I’ve seen the work you’ve done, I know how much you’ve read and researched and thought about and… you’ve done more than I should have done by now in my PhD career. of course that’s also because I’m waiting for you to be done with those library books, lol. what you’ve done is valid, impressive, and necessary. so it’s not a flashy presentation with unicorns and glitter – although I still think you need to do that – but it’s still seriously hard work for a worthy real-world application and you are now a card-carrying member of the wenger cult.

    hold your head high, you have at least one extremely loud and obnoxious cheerleader in your corner. no, I will not wear a cheerleader costume to colloquium. well, ok. I might. if it has a unicorn logo on it. and if I can throw glitter at you.

    can’t wait to see your fantastic presentation!!

    you ROCK!

  2. So funny that at the end of this long semester everyone ends up in the same place. For all the triumphs of these short 4 months, looking back always seems full of missed opportunities to deepen and broaden our thoughts. In trying to remind myself that what I’m doing is worthwhile and engaging, I think of those intense moments where I struggled for days with a concept. Then the moment of clarity came, rewriting my view of the world and setting off chain reactions of intense energy both in myself and in my various communities as I shared those experiences with others. While I may indeed fail in brining all those epiphanic moments to my final paper, they have effects that extend beyond this time, space, and assignment. Trust that what you are doing is important. It is. Trust that you know what you’re talking about. You do. And trust that the work you have produced has the possibility to do far more than you’ve envisioned for it. It surely will.

    And P.S. Thanks for sharing your insecurities. Being real helps others look beyond the frustration of self-doubt. If the legendary @amichetti can have doubt, then it must be ok for me too! :)

  3. Thesis wants will win, Adrienne, hands down! I know what you can do and to what level you strive for in your work. Keep the head up and eyes on the target.

  4. First thing I thought was wow this is how our students feel. This experience no matter what happens will make you a more empathetic and understanding teacher. And there is nothing wrong with that, but more importantly let me say how excited I am to see what you have designed. I am sure it will be fine and you are being too hard on yourself as most intense perfectionist are want to do. Just remember what you always tell me, forget the insecurity, the ego, the need for fluffing up, you are a talented and passionate educator who loves what she is doing, nothing mediocre has ever come from that. Who knows, you may even get an award for all your hard work.

    Smile, breathe, you know the drill.

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