Thursday, December 08, 2005

Ends and beginnings

Today was the last day of my class on blogging. We had pizza. They filled out a survey. We did a kind of post-mortem on the class and then we left so they could do the official evaluations. Many of the students said they would continue blogging, and I hope they do. It's a weird kind of thing to end a class. I really enjoyed teaching it and, with the addition of the blog, felt pretty connected to most of the students. It's such a small place that I know I'll see them around campus over the next three and a half years, but it won't quite be the same. Today, we were all a little frazzled. The students were finishing up papers and exams, surviving on just a few hours of sleep. We have been grading and attending meeting after meeting. It didn't quite feel like we paused enough to say goodbye properly. As always, I feel like there are things I would do differently, but all in all, I think the class was a valuable experience for them and for me as a teacher. Honestly, I almost always learn as much from them as they do from me.

And then there are beginnings. As I begin formulating my proposal and thinking about my dissertation, I have both the excitement of new beginnings and reminders of endings. As I was digging out some articles that will be useful in writing my project, I ran across the letter I received from my former advisor in response to my first chapter of my original dissertation. When I received it the first time, I cried. And it still stings to read it again. There was maybe a sentence of positive feedback and it was at the end. No wonder I quit.

I hope I can keep those stinging comments at bay. They are a reflection, probably common among dissertators, of the fear of failure, fear of disapproval, fear of not being good enough that sometimes prevents us from doing good work. I've buried that letter back in the box I found it. Now I have to bury it in my mind and begin afresh.