The CMU DET program was something that I had been looking for, and I jumped on it when I stumbled on it. Most people would have put more time and thought into beginning a Ph.D. program, but the timing and the details of the program were the right fit for me; I decided to do it. Now that the first semester is under my belt, I know that I did the right thing.
One thing that went particularly well for me this semester was my ability to carve out time in my already busy life to complete all assignments and to attend all meetings. This was a juggling act. I have to admit this was one thing that I was not sure that I would be able to do. It did take away from time with my family and my house is not as clean as it used to be, but I did it. Next semester, I do want to be even more organized, and I want to keep track of assignments even better. Even though I did fine, there is still room for improvement. For example, it did help me this semester to have a set time each week that I would work on assignments, and I will continue to do that next semester, too. It is too easy to put things off when a course is online, so making a schedule and sticking to it is imperative. Unfortunately, even though I do feel that this was an area that I did well in, I know that it is still something that I have to continuously work at or my skill of procrastination will take over, and trust me, it is a well-honed skill.
One thing that did not go as well as I hoped for it to was my participation in the writing group that Dr. Hicks attempted to set up at the beginning of the semester. Even though I wanted to participate, I was not really ready nor equipped to do so. I did participate in the initial meetings and did give and receive feedback about a comparison paper written for EDU 811, but it was too much too soon. I was not confident in my own writing and what I was doing to give someone else feedback. Also, even though I know that peer reviewed articles are reviewed by others (hence the name), I just did not know how to give feedback in this way. After completing the three critical reviews for EDU 800, I have more of an idea how to do this, but I still have a lot more to learn in this area. I think that the writing group is important, but it may be something that would work better if introduced in the second or third semester of the cohort. This would give the cohort members the chance to get to know each other as well as the opportunity to develop some skills and a thicker skin to both give and receive feedback. And for me, I still have not given up on the idea of participating in a writing group with this cohort.
One goal I have for myself for the spring semester is to stick to a schedule in which there is some me-time incorporated. One thing that stuck with me from EDU 807 is the need for self-care. I did not practice that very much this semester, and if I want to finish this Ph.D. program, I have to take care of me, too. To me, working on a Ph.D. can be equated to running a marathon. Neither are done quickly, and both will take time. In a marathon, one must run at a slow steady pace. If sprinting, one will run out of energy way before the finish line comes into sight. I can see the same thing happening when working on a Ph.D. To succeed, I need to take it slowly so that I do not run out of energy before the finish line. To do that, I have to take care of myself and take time not only to exercise but also take mental breaks along the way. In that weekly schedule that I create in order to ensure that I complete tasks for courses for the week will also be time dedicated to doing other things so that I make it a priority to take time for me, too.
As for a longer term goal, I would like to participate more with others in the cohort in giving and receiving feedback on our writing in a writing group. I do see the value in the group that Dr. Hicks attempted to arrange with us at the beginning of the program. I do not want to give up on the idea, as I do think that this would be a valuable group for members of our cohort to participate in to help us to develop our writing skills, too. Additionally, we may not want to limit it to just this cohort. Other members of future cohorts could also be invited to join if interested so that it becomes more of a joint DET group than just a cohort group. I think that the timing of the introduction of the group is important, and it may be best to introduce it when members of a cohort are beginning to conduct their own research as well as writing their own research articles.