I appreciate the approach of 10% Happier and Goldstein primarily because it helps you develop your practice, but it doesn’t feel like too much pressure. One of the phrases that he weaves in to the different guided meditations is, “Simply begin again.” When you recognize that you’ve lost focus, rather than to get frustrated, angry at yourself or disillusioned, he instead urges you to simply begin again. Those are three powerful words. They have applicability way beyond meditation.
The end of the academic year is a great time to take stock, reflect, talk with others, consider priorities, and plan next steps. If you’re like me, you’re never entirely satisfied with how a course went. Or maybe you didn’t complete the writing project you’ve been working on. Or maybe your conference proposal or fellowship application wasn’t accepted. The great thing about working in academia is that we can simply begin again. Here are three things I’ll be working on this summer in this spirit of starting fresh.
Reimagining a course
I wrote recently about a faculty seminar I participated in focusing on Universal Design for Learning. The major outcome of the course was revising my course syllabus through a UDL lens. It was an interesting and productive experience. As I’ve thought more about it over the last few weeks and in light of an excellent course I’m taking on the Fundamentals of Online Teaching, I’m considering an even more radical redesign for the course. I’ve always enjoyed teaching it, but I really want to make an effort to truly personalize the experience for my students, so that the course topics, readings, and projects are driven by their needs.
In order to truly begin again, I thought it would be helpful to consult some others to generate some new ideas. I’ve talked with colleagues who teach similar courses at other universities. I’ve also done an abbreviated review of the literature. Finally, I’m meeting with practicing teachers next week to test some of my ideas with practitioners in the field for which I’m preparing my students. I’m confident that all these resources and ideas will help me to start fresh in the fall.
Resetting my scholarship
For the last two years, I’ve served as Associate Dean in my school. While it’s been a great experience in many ways, it really set me back in terms of my scholarship and writing. While I was able to work on some small projects and begin this blog, I’ve had to put the majority of my research on hold. It’s been a little disappointing, and I know it will take me some time to get back in the groove. But, this break has afforded me the opportunity to begin again with a clean slate.
With the benefit of having a little distance, I’ve been able to consider what I want my priorities to be for my scholarship. As a tenured faculty member, the direction and emphasis of my work is largely up to me. As I consider new research in the areas of innovation in learning design and engaging students in deeper learning opportunities, the ability to begin again has reinvigorated my desire for and ideas related to research.
Extending partnerships and collaborations
As I transition out of my current administrative position, I also have the opportunity to begin again in terms of my collaborations and partnerships. I now have the opportunity to nurture and extend some of the relationships I’ve developed with colleagues in teacher preparation and with our local school partners. I’m particularly excited to work more closely with my colleagues on professional development and research related to an innovative pilot program at a local high school – the Pathways Project at Warhill High School.
As one project winds down, it’s exciting to consider how to begin again with a new partnership or collaboration. We draw on our past experience and lessons learned as we engage in new efforts. If we’re reflective and apply what we’ve learned, each successive partnership offers greater potential for success or even transformation. We just have to have the courage and make the conscious choice to begin again.
What does it mean to you to “begin again”?
Please post your comments below.