Looking Back, Looking Forward

From a blog post I wrote on 23 December 2013:

forex trading in dubai If nothing else, hopefully it will be an entry I can look back on this time next year, as I’m preparing to graduate, and laugh at, remembering that time I panicked unnecessarily and frantically spat out a blog post full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

I remember very clearly where I was when I wrote this: in the same place I’m sitting now, on the leftmost cushion of my living room couch, feet up on the coffee table, in a semi-dark room lit primarily by our Christmas tree.  I remember it so clearly because of the emotions I was experiencing at the time: self-doubt, panic, and a sense of being overwhelmed that I have rarely felt before or since.  I had just recently had a meeting with my dissertation committee and was told that there needed to be major revisions to my proposal (maybe “overhaul” is a better word) before they would approve me to begin my research.  While I was expecting to have to make some revisions, what was described to me in the meeting was unexpected, to put it mildly.

A lot has happened in the year since.  As I’ve documented in multiple posts here, of course, I did make those revisions, conduct my research, and successfully defend my dissertation (you can read it here if you need help falling asleep) over the following months.

Additionally, I received a very nice compliment in the form of one of my committee members asking me to sit on future dissertation committees for qualitative studies because I “really get qualitative research” (I have to say, I really enjoyed this part of my research much more than looking at the quantitative data in my mixed-methods study).

I was also one of five graduating doctoral students asked to present their research at a poster session at my university’s Faculty Senate meeting earlier this month.  Oddly enough, two sick children and a lack of emergency child care kept me housebound that day, but I was still able to present due to some quick thinking and the magic of Skype and its screen-sharing function.

Finally, I was asked last week to give the commencement address at my own graduation ceremony next month.  This is an incredible honor, albeit an entirely unexpected one, so I’ll be spending some time during the winter holiday break sketching out some thoughts to share with my fellow graduates – a much better use of my time than the panicking and stressing that occupied most of my break last year.

So anyway, yeah, it’s been an eventful year.  I’m not laughing as I look back on last year’s blog post, because even with the perspective granted by distance, I still feel my concerns were well-founded, but I got through it – maybe not as quickly, cleanly, or efficiently as I would have liked, but I got through it.

Scrolling back through my archives, it seems I’ve been blogging about doctoral studies since early 2009, when I was bemoaning the lack of opportunities for study for people who were employed full-time.  I guess this revisiting of my panic post from last year is my way of putting a bow on this topic on this blog, at least for the foreseeable future.  It’s done.  I’m done.  Dr. Damian is in the house.

I mentioned in the spring that I’ve started a new leg of my career in that I am now an administrator in my school district.  Between finishing up the dissertation and starting a new job, time and energy for blogging have both been understandably scarce.

I have never liked the idea of New Year’s resolutions, but maybe since the end of my doctoral program JUST HAPPENS to come at this time of year, next month would be a good time to resume a more regular blogging schedule of 1-2 times per month.  It’s something I’ve been looking forward to, and while time and energy have been scarce, topics and thoughts have most certainly been in abundant supply.

A few weeks ago, I saw a link come across Twitter: it was John Spencer’s “Advice for New Bloggers“.  Perfect, I thought – I’m by no means a new blogger, but maybe a little structure and fresh perspective will help me jump start this thing for 2015.  I clicked on the link, eager for some bullet-pointed guidance, but what I found was this:

Write whatever the hell you want to write.

Instead of instruction, I got affirmation.  I’ll take it.  Happy New Year; see you in 2015.

Standing On the Shoulders of Giants

I included an Acknowledgements page early in my dissertation to thank all the people who have supported me in one way or another throughout my doctoral studies.  Since most of the people I thank will never read the thing, I thought I would reproduce that page here in order to thank them all in a more public venue:

***

So thanks to all at once, and to each one…
Macbeth, V.viii.75

I owe a debt of gratitude to a great many people for a great many reasons:

To my parents, who instilled in me from an early age the persistence and perspective that has guided me in all my personal, professional, and academic pursuits.

To the men and women of Wilmington University’s Ed.D. Cohorts 21 and 22, with whom I have shared laughter, frustration, grief, and joy over the last three years.

To my colleagues at Lawrence Township Public Schools, whose passion, professionalism, collegiality, and commitment to kids make going to work a joy.

To the faculty and staff of the Wilmington University Ed.D. program, especially program adviser Dr. Lynne Svenning, internship field adviser Dr. Sande Caton, and program administrative assistant Ms. Ann Gibason, all of whom have helped bring me back down to Earth when stress levels ran high.

To my dissertation committee chair Dr. Michael Czarkowski and committee members Dr. Pamela Curtiss, Dr. Tony Marchio, and Dr. Linda Frazer, for the unique expertise and guidance each brought to this study.

Finally, to the faculty and staff of Wellbrook School District, who gave so freely of their time to a complete stranger and without whom this study would not have been possible.

 ***

Of course, no expression of gratitude would be complete without the Dedication page that precedes the Acknowledgements:

This dissertation is dedicated to my wife, Stephanie, and my children, Dylan and Kiera, whose unconditional love and support have been instrumental in completing this journey.  We did this.  I love you all, forever and always.

Achievement Unlocked!

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing.  Over 200 pages and 30 PowerPoint slides later, today I successfully defended my doctoral dissertation, Sustaining distributed leadership: Lessons learned from a case study of Delaware middle schools.

I am both elated and exhausted.  If anyone needs me, I’ll be asleep for the next six months or so.

Periscope down…

October #Edcamp: Teacher LeaderCamp @WilmU

I’m thrilled to announce a very special Edcamp event for educators in the vicinity of the state of Delaware: Teacher LeaderCamp @WilmU.

While most Edcamps cover a vast array of edu-themes, the overarching focus of Teacher LeaderCamp is teacher leadership.  Our host and sponsor, Wilmington University, indicated an interest in holding this event in order to foster teacher leadership in Delaware, and since teacher leadership constituted a huge part of my dissertation research, of course I was interested in helping organize the event.

Teacher LeaderCamp will be held on Saturday, October 25th from 9am-3pm.  The event will be held at two sites simultaneously in order to maximize the number of Delaware-area educators we can bring into the conversation: the campuses of Wilmington University at Dover and Wilson Graduate Center in New Castle.

As is the case with all Edcamps, the specific schedule of events will be set on the morning of the event, by the participants.  If there’s a topic you want to discuss, pick a time, pick a room, and put it on the master board – that’s all there is to it!

Of course, registration is FREE, but we do need you to register in advance – click here to reserve your free tickets for Dover; click here to reserve tickets for the Wilson Graduate Center in New Castle.  After you get your tickets, don’t forget to Like us on Facebook for updates and info as we get closer to the event.

Wilmington University has generously offered us all the essentials for an Edcamp: meeting space, bandwidth, and plenty of food – all that’s missing is you!  Hope to see you and your colleagues on October 25th.

Latest Greatest Hits

Happy Labor Day, and Happy New (School) Year’s Eve for many of you!

I’m actually writing this post in early August in anticipation of being pretty overwhelmed and without much time for blogging in early September, between starting my new job and heading down the final stretch of my dissertation journey.  Since I haven’t posted a rerun updated my “Damian’s Favorites” post category in awhile, I thought I’d link some of the items I’ve recently added:

Resume, Cover Letter… Blog?: My thoughts on how an online presence is at least useful, if not essential, in getting yourself a job in education these days, as well as my own story and some outlining of how and why I do what I do.

300 Miles: The more I learn, read, and hear about the importance of goal-setting, the better I realize it’s not just buzzy edu-jargon but (if done well) an essential tool in making progress.  This is one such example.

Don’t Break the Chain: More on meeting goals, but focusing on the journey there and how one comedian set himself up for success.  Simple and silly as it may sound, it has helped me enormously in my efforts to complete my doctoral dissertation.

What Will They Remember? #FergusonThoughts inspired by the death of Michael Brown and your students’ responses.  They will remember how you made them feel.

Whether you start tomorrow or you’ve been back for weeks already, my best wishes to you and your students for a fantastic 2014-2015!