This is the third article in this series on finding hidden and unexpected pockets of time to write within your tried-and-true teaching practices. By paying more attention to what we do when we teach, we can spend less time teaching and more time writing without sacrificing quality feedback. Last edition, I wrote about how to streamline student feedback; in this article I will focus on streamlining how you grade student work. In the next and final article of this series, I will explore several ways to enlist student help in meeting your own writing goals while providing a role model as a scholar.
Scholars, balance between humility and self-respect
Whether you’re a doctoral student wrestling with the drafts of your dissertation or an academic author wrestling with the drafts of your article or book, you probably have encountered, or will, the often-intimidating presence and feedback of your chair or editor. As with any interpersonal relationship, it’s advisable to steer between abject obeisance and independent arrogance. Neither will get you what you want—approval of your dissertation or publication of your scholarly work.
In my academic editing and coaching profession, I suggest to clients that an optimum way to establish and maintain a good working relationship is a combination of humility and self-respect. Whatever your past accomplishments, humility before the perceived power of the chair or editor is required. Not that you must kowtow; they’ll know you’re toadying. Some students and authors have stellar long-term experience, titles, and positions, and likely make more annually than their chairs or editors, not to mention owning lavish summer homes. Nevertheless, humility is called for with the dissertation chair or editor. Not easy, I know.
Get academic writing into your bones
How do you get academic writing into your bones—and mind? If you’re an experienced professor, you may not need to immerse as much as your students do. In my dissertation editing and coaching practice, I’ve noticed that many student writers write like they speak—conversationally and colloquially.
If you’re a closet novelist, fine. Write like your characters speak. But academic writing is a breed unto itself, and not giving it the proper attention is the downfall of many a previously good student.
Six reminders to help you and your students get to the writing
It’s no secret that writing is hard, whatever our experience, stage, or state. Academics aren’t the only ones who abhor writing. It’s likely that anyone who ever had to write anything abhors writing. With academic writing, as any other kind, it’s usually hard to get started. Even if we’ve had an initial flush of enthusiasm and are amazed at having produced the first few pages, it’s too easy to sink into a frozen torpor.
Yet writing represents some of the most important aspects of our professional work. And too often we avoid, procrastinate, and rationalize why, instead of writing, we must polish the car or clean out the refrigerator.
12/9 TAA Webinar – How to Hook Your Audience
In the era of “fake news,” it is critical that research be translated and published as widely and accurately as possible. Among many journalists, however, academics are notorious for their caveats, sub-clauses, and unwillingness to tell a good story. Research experts often find it challenging to engage non-specialist audiences in ways that preserve the rigor and credibility of their work.
Join us Thursday, December 9 from 1-2 p.m. ET for the TAA webinar, “How to Hook Your Audience”, presented by Erica Machulak, PhD., founder of Hikma Strategies. Erica will offer a framework and actionable strategies to write research narratives that inform and engage non-specialist audiences.
Are you older than your professors? There’s hope
I immediately recognized Marlene’s voice on the phone. She was one of the brightest and most conscientious doctoral students I have ever served in my academic coaching and editing practice. An older student, “nontraditional,” Marlene had returned for her doctorate after three of her four kids were grown and on their own. She held down a full-time job in medical billing, and her youngest was now in high school, so Marlene embarked on a lifelong dream—she enrolled in a doctoral program. We were working together on the first of her course papers.
But now, instead of greeting me, Marlene fumed for ten minutes. Her professor had track-changed almost every page of her essay and added a four-paragraph single-spaced memo stuffed with questions. Marlene shouted over the phone, “I’m calling the doctoral police!”