The PhD Chronicles: Day 1

Today, I enjoyed my first day of classes in my doctoral program.  I really did enjoy it.  The program technically started at 8:30AM with a welcoming breakfast by the 2014 Cohort (so very kind of them), but I arrived at campus around 6:00AM.  I did this because, well, I hate the idea of trying to drive through Boston and encountering any kind of traffic.  I get up at 5:00am most mornings so this was a pretty easy decision to just get up and come to the campus rather than deal with the craziness that is driving through Boston.

My original goal was to run outside but it was cold and rainy most of the day so I ditched that idea.  Instead, I found a table to sit at and work on some additional reading for later in the week.  After a while, I made my way over to the classroom where the breakfast was.  All of us were excited but nervous--largely from figuring out exactly how the day was to proceed.  It was a pleasant day.  We had a lot of opportunities to introduce and discuss who we are, learn about one another and take an initial dive into the content we had read for the day.

The instructor had a good approach to the first day.  He started us off with basic introductions and then into more interactive introductions in which we had to do more than name, rank, and serial number and think about who we are--and draw it.  Here is mine:




I named it the 4 F's of My Life and I honed in on the idea how how failing or feeling like a failure in my adolescent years was fundamentally changed as I moved into college and learned to frame the issue differently which lead me to find alternative narratives or means to understand myself and address the issues with myself.  It was a surprisingly powerful aspect of myself that I found myself sharing with the group and a sense of vulnerability and angst definitely crept into me as I moved to present and talk about it.  But it was also powerful in that it helped me to see and think about in a clear way what are some of the ways in whcih I make sense of myself and my life.  For me, it helps explain why as an adult I don't fear failure but embrace it as a moment to learn something new and understand things differently.

Eventually, we delved into the discussion and the instructor proved a helpful aide in guiding and highlighting the key points through follow up questions and teasing out certain pieces.  However, he did this in a friendly and conversational manner that left none of us feel insufficient or lacking, but rather just looking at the text with a different frame.

We went off to lunch, wherein we got to socialize much more and feel much more comfortable with one another.  We had broken the ice, gotten to know one another more, and felt relieved to have the first session over.  We began discussion strategies for sharing materials, tackling the content and communication.

The second half of the day we delved much more deeply into the readings.  This included a presentation that I delivered that summarized the role of the federal government in higher education.  For a first-time presentation, it did all right.  I had a sense of what the instructor wanted but one never really knows until you're in the classroom.  So going in blind, I was content with what I did.  You can check it out below:



After my presentation, another classmate facilitated a discussion about the challenges of funding for students in higher education and she had us break up into groups.  Now, we had been breaking into groups most of the day but it was usually with who was to the left or right of you.  This time, she really shuffled us up, which I found to be a good idea in terms of moving us around and working with different people.

Final Reflection
The day was a success.  I came in excited and left with even more excitement.  There's work ahead but I'm invigorated by the fact that I'm surrounded by a diverse and awesome bunch of classmates and faculty who seem quite engaged with our progress and learning.  I find the content interesting and while not overwhelming, very engaging and certainly pushing me to think and process in different ways.  Finally, I'm excited to be back in the world of thought.  To be clear, I do lots of deep thinking at work, but the challenge of engagement here feels like my first Masters program but the big difference is that I feel I am ready to tackle this whereas I needed some significant time to adjust to the demands of that first program.  

Want to catch up on my previous reflections about being in a PhD program?  Check them out:
  1. Acceptance
  2. Orientation
See you at the end of Week 1!


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