Although summer is not over yet, it seems that meetings with members of my (future) dissertation committee are until the fall semester begins. This leaves me about a month to polish up Chapter 1 and to structure Chapter 2 of my proposal. I can also spend the time reading more in my research area, which was being discouraged earlier this summer since the readings can detract me. So what have I done?
1) I now have 2 co-chairs on my dissertation committee, one being my advisor, who is an expert in teacher education. The other is a professor, who is an expert in my field of ESL education. My research area draws from literature in ESL teacher education, and I hope my research can help improve it.
2) I have written 3 drafts of Chapter 1 and have submitted the third draft to my co-chairs. It is unfinished in that I am uncertain of the delimitations as the research methodology may change.
3) I have come across 2 influential researchers in my readings, and have contacted one of them. Both have published numerous articles within the last decade that promote my position.
4) I have collected a substantial amount of literature and read through a handful or so of the ones that seemed important enough to include in my Chapter 1. After reading them, I would estimate that half of what I read was indeed useful.
5) Next week, I will finish up my graduate assistantship with the Education Technology Center, where I worked for the past 3 years.
6) I have formally invited a third member to my dissertation committee.
To me, this list doesn't seem like a lot. Of the last ten weeks, I would say I have spent a total of 5-7 days writing and about twice as many days reading. Half of that reading was influential in my establishing my position. Perhaps I'm being unfair in that I just completed the busiest semester in my life, so anything following that would feel relatively free. In fact, I'm not getting credit for doing this work. I'm doing this work to get this dissertation done.
Perhaps I had high expectations for the summer. By this time, I had hoped to be done rewriting both Chapters 1 and 2, so I only met my expectations halfway there. I also wanted to make some progress on my IRB application, and this did not happen at all.
I am pushing myself because my ultimate goal for the next academic year is to be completed with data collection. After next May, I will have no more financial support from the College of Education, so I will have to find a job somewhere. Right now, I have the luxury of putting my dissertation at the top of my list of priorities. Soon that will give way to trying to secure a job and trying to sell our house, both of which will intensify as the academic year comes to a close.
With a month left before the academic year begins, I plan to spend about 2 weeks at my in-laws' in Maryland. That gives me a week before the trip and a week after the trip to dedicate most attention to my research proposal. But like I mentioned earlier, there is little reading and writing to do.
I hope to invite a fourth member to my dissertation committee before the semester begins.
Perhaps what adds to the frustration of the summer was the sequence of job rejections, although none of those jobs were vitally important to my way of life. Two of these job rejections were for summer employment, one paying 10 times as much as I am making at this assistantship. The third was for a job starting in the fall, but I had lost interest in it before they rejected me. Although I could take or leave any of those jobs, rejection still hurts my confidence.
Aside from my research and jobs, I was able to enjoy plenty of time with my family with some excursions around the area. I also had plenty of time to read books that are not related to ESL education at all, and I had time to update my professional website/portfolio. But, from time to time, I have experienced boredom, which I had not had to deal with for the past 6 years, and that has unsettled me.