Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Importance of Being Organized and Singing the Burnt Out Blues

It has been a long time since I posted. The past month and a half have been perhaps the busiest of my up to now not so busy life and I had a difficult time keeping up.
There were some good things: Last month I was promoted from lecturer to asscociate professor(准教授). It was an overwhelmingly time consuming task to apply for promotion as I had to submit every single paper I ever wrote as well as write and abstract in Japanese for each paper. I also summarized each presentation I had ever done and provided evidence that I had done the presentation. In addition to this I had to submit 4 other documents. What made this task phenomenally time consuming was my complete lack of organization. I literally spent days going through all kinds of documents etc. that had been collecting dust in the corner of my office for a couple of years. I also spent quite a bit of time tracking down those journals and short articles I had wrote that I had misplaced. Thanks to some good friends who are highly organzied people, I was able to submit everything I had to. My advice to anyone interested in working in a Japanese university is to make a concious effort to hold onto every paper you write or any artifact of a presentation you made (not just to throw everything into a space in your bookshelf). Also, I recommend that you write an abstract of your paper in Japanese or presentation soon after you finish it. One of the reasons the application process took me so long was I had to write abstracts in Japanese for some papers that I had written years ago and whose content I had forgotten about. Also, writing a concise abstract in English is not easy for me so writing one in Japanese is extremely challenging and usually has to be proofread. Somehow I was able to get everything together by the deadline, but I hope that this encourages people not to follow in my haphazard footsteps.

I was also involved in a couple of fairly big projects in February and March which included helping to produce a textbook (I primarily managed the accounting side), redesigning the Faculty of Education's website, contributing a few short essays to a book and a non-academic publication, grading tests and reading papers and writing reports for a few trips I took (Thailand & China). I also try to devote a lot of time to my family. So, I was feeling a little overwhelmed in February and March. The end result was that I did not do as well as a job with my classes as I would have liked and was not able to finish two papers about using vocabulary notebooks. I have realized that I cannot be an administrator and an educator/researcher at the same time. Unfortunately, this year administrative work took too much time and I have been left feeling a little inadequate as an educator/researcher.
Classes started tow weeks ago and I still had a backlog of administrative work form the previous academic year that I just finished. I like to try new things in my classes but this was the first time I had not been able to plan anything new before classes began. The past week, I have not felt my normal amount of energy when getting ready for the new semester. However, I am not completely impervious to the excitement that comes with the beginning of a new academic year; new students, and a rested, refreshed and enthusiastic returning student body. Also, reading the Autono Blogger and the Japan Action Research in EFL today gave me some new ideas and rekindled my motivation a little. Once the weather warms up I think I will be more back to normal and back to feeling like an educator/researcher.


Steve Herder said...

Hi Jimbo,

Sounds like you plowed through a mountain of paperwork. I felt tired just reading what you accomplished. Congrats on your promotion.

Thanks for the plug. I've moved to with hopes of growing

I feel like I'm getting off to a good start this year, but look forward to keeping in touch so we can spur one another along when necessary.



Anonymous said...

Hi, this is Rintaro.
How have you been?
You finally got promoted!
I'm sure you will continue doing a lot of excellent work for the development of English education.
See you in Oita!