2012 in review

It’s the last work day of this year. The New Year will be here just next week and I couldn’t be any more excited about it as I’ve been daydreaming about what’s in stock for me in 2013. I’ve also been thinking about the past year and what I have achieved so far. In rewind 2012 wasn’t actually that bad. Yes, there is plenty more to do, but I think I have achieved a fair bit. Let’s see what that means then.

At the beginning of 2012 I set myself some goals. At one point I had them pinned on my wall but one day they fell off and I never really put them back up. Then I moved a house and forgot about them until I found the list in a folder a few days ago. Even though I had completely forgotten about these New Year goals, I had actually been working towards them. Here is what went well and not so well in terms of my 5 resolutions:

Resolution 1. Go to the gym and exercise regularly (3 times a week, no excuses)

Yes, I did it, I’ve been going to the gym a lot and feeling healthy and strong. The results: I only had the flu once, I completed a 30 day challenge, improved my shape and finally, got into a good habit!

Resolution 2. Wake up early on workdays

Initially, early mornings were a challenge but once I started my fieldwork, I had no chance to sleep in most of the days as I had to be at school before 8.30am. I even got myself into the routine of passing by my office in the morning to leave my gym bag and get the research diary and recorder. Changing my sleeping pattern actually provided me with a few extra hours in the day and I was managing my time significantly better.

Resolution 3. Learn how to dance

The plan was latin dances, but I never got to it. Instead, I took my Bulgarian traditional dancing very seriously and attended weekly. My skills improved considerably and I have also been having an awful lot of fun 🙂

Resolution 4. Be open to new things

I’m not sure how well this went as I have been trying to think of new things for a week now but I don’t seem to remember any particular instances of becoming more open or trying anything. I’m not even sure what the reasons are and if it’s that I’m not willing or too busy or just not noticing things…  I’ll have to work on that one in the future!

Resolution 5. Start a blog

Well, here it is, I started my blog in January 2012 and I’ve managed to keep it going up until the very end of the year. According to my stats, I have published 36 glorious (even if it’s only in my opinion) posts, I’ve had 2110 hits and 25 dedicated followers (Thanks you!). Not bad hey?

Managing my resolutions well had greatly improved my confidence and sense of achievement, but happily this is not all. 2012 really does seem like a particularly good year and I am not saying this to show off. I know that I work very hard and I achieve the goals I set but I am one of these people who never get anything too easily (most of my closest friends would confirm that!). Yes, my luck in notorious and everything happens the hard way. At least I don’t mind working…  But I’m writing this celebratory post to congratulate myself publicly and make sure I remember that good things happen even if it takes a while to get there.

Now, onto the PhD and what I achieved in a year:

Achievement 1: Passed Panel

Even though my Panel experience was accompanied by theoretical scares, tears and general sense that I haven’t done enough (my own impression, wasn’t quite true!), I had an unconditional pass and no corrections pending. I was good to go, my reasearch plan was fab in non-academic terms! It was a good start of the year and a reassurance that I will do just fine with this PhD. Here’s a link to my post about the Panel on our School of Education PGR blog.

Achievement 2: Got funding

I was awarded ESRC funding for the remaining duration of my PhD. As I said earlier, nothing comes easily but it eventually does sort itself anyway. I still remember reading that email up to the point of ‘I am pleased to…’ when I began screaming and running around the house to tell everyone. It was a day to remember and another pointer to the fact that there will be good times ahead of me!

Achievement 3: Wrote a book chapter

The chapter came out of print just a week ago and it was a massive achievement. I am published on my own and my name is in a book!!! I love it, I love the fact that my work at university will become known and read by other people. And just to top it up, I will put the reference:

  • Kaneva, D. (2012) Teaching and learning in diverse school contexts: the journeys of three newly-arrived students. In D. Mallows (Ed.) Innovations in English language teaching for migrants and refugees (pp. 49-63). London: British Council Innovation Series.
chapter

There it is! With my name on it!

 

Achievement 4: Completed the most part of my fieldwork

I like the sound of that one. I have spent a total of 7 months at school gathering data by observing children, talking to them and their teachers and learning about their experiences as they become secondary school students. It’s been a journey and a learning experience! More to come on this one 🙂

Achievement 5: Completed a crazy writing challenge, hence literature review initial draft – tick!

#AcWriMo goalsNovember 2012 was a month of challenges – physical, health related and academic / mental… In addition to the 30 days of gym, I took part in the Academic Writing Month known as #acwrimo on Twitter (there are plenty of links on my blog). By setting a crazy writing challenge of finalising my literature review, drafting a paper and doing some analysis write-up as case studies, I really pushed myself beyond my comfort zone. I achieved my goals with minor deviations and that’s why I can have a deserved break during the holidays. But more importantly, the challenges got me disciplined and even more organised so that I can go in the New Year with confidence that I can push myself yet again and do better.

Achievement 6: Significantly improved my teaching and  reduced the anxiety of facing big groups of students as I kept doing it over and over again (Thanks, supervisors!!!)

My supervisor asked me to present for his students a number of times and the good thing is that they come in groups of 100+. My first time was last January when I was still unsure about my abilities to face big audiences and to keep them engaged. Well, that has changed now. In the course of the year I have taught at least 400 PGCE Secondary students, 100 TeachFirst students and about 40 Masters level students. Not sure about conference presentations audiences as I attended a few, too. More to come next year!!!

Achievement 7: Social media and blog keeping

And finally, an extension to the blog keeping resolution – I signed for Twitter and attracted 83 followers (YeY! I just get impressed by numbers), started a Facebook page to share links to the blog and wrote posts quite regularly. I suppose all of this got more formally acknowledged as my blog was featured in one of the electronic newsletters at university at the start of the academic year and I was also invited to contribute a post to Warwick PhD Life blog (Thank you, Tomi!).

celebration-balloons

Well done!

All in all, 2012 seems to have been a good year! I’m looking forward to the next one! Of course, all the hard work will be there too. Thanks to all of you who are reading my blog and random rants and I promise to keep you posted.

Happy, happy celebrations. Cheers!

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