I’m not dead yet (best heard in your head with a cockney accent) *grin* I have just had far too many immovable deadlines over the last few weeks, leading me to prioritize everything else over blogging.

First I went to a history of ed conference in Newark that was awesome.  I practically got giggly when I saw some of the big names in the field sitting across the lunch table from me. 

I really needed that conference; I’ve been losing faith in both my ability and desire to finish this.  Working full time in a career that is, in some ways, still very interesting (even if it isn’t the life-style I want long-term) with a major project deadline was sapping my enthusiasm for my academic work.  However the project is done, so that will help going forward.  I hope.  And the conference reinvigorated me toward my work.

Then, like every other education scholar, I have been rushing to prepare conference proposals to the “big” conference in the field (AERA) that were due yesterday.  Tomorrow I have a paper due for one of my classes, so I won’t get caught up until after that.

I can say that I am very pleased with my submissions to AERA.  I sent in one proposal to a SIG that essentially is what I want to do for my dissertation, so I forwarded it off to my adviser as well.  My writing group read it and only one had any real substantive comments; the rest were just grammar (I still mix up that/which for example) and clarifying of wording.  Everyone thought it was well written.  We’ll see if the sig agrees.  It is definitely a unique perspective.

What interested me about that proposal is that the angle came to me on a drive and, when I got home, I wrote the whole thing up in under 4 hours.  It really just flowed.  I thought when I sent it off to my readers that they would say it sucked or was scattered, but apparently it was more along the inspired lines.  Ah the power of a conference to get one motivated, followed by amazing cinnamon swirl french toast for energy.

I also sent in a pre-conference professional development proposal having to do with presentation skills for academic conferences.  Last week I was at a really interesting international conference and was reminded again of just how few academics seem to know how to:

  • Summarize their paper into a 15-20 minute talk (ie edit the content reasonably)
  • Distill in information into slides that help, not hinder, their presentation
  • Deliver said presentation within the timelimit
  • “Read the room” to determine whether pacing is working, explainations are clear, etc.

So my presentation (called “Making your Brilliance Known”) focuses on taking what is certainly a fabulous paper and distilling it down, making slides that help, how NOT to read your own slides but deliver in an engaging way and use the feedback from the room to modify your delivery.  I’ve blogged on parts of this topic before, but this will give me a chance to pull it all together.

Who knows if that one will get accepted; I think it is needed, but some people might find it offensive.  (“What does some chick with an MBA know about presenting at an academic conference?  Shouldn’t she at least finish her dissertation before she starts trying to tell us what to do?”)  I just don’t get why people don’t realize the skills are VERY different.

I have decided that I need about 3 conferences per year to stay motivated.  That means this international one during the summer, the american history of ed conference in the fall (already have a paper accepted for this) and the big conference in the spring.  I am committing to myself to submit to each one, which shouldn’t be hard.  I’m finding that if anything I have too many ideas after each conference.  This is going to cost money, but as long as I am working full time it is a managable expense if it keeps my enthusiasm level up for the work.  Once I am a full time academic, I can back that off.  (Anyway, the international conference next year is in the Netherlands – I’ve never been!!!)

Anyway, now I have a historiography paper due this week and an academic
book review due next week that I need to write.  Sometimes it feels
like it never ends, bit a little enthusiasm helps.