Search

If you are anything like me, at this point in the semester, you’ve almost memorized your course syllabi, you’ve locked in your semester due dates, AND you are brainstorming some sort of research proposal that’s due for at least one of your courses. 


Are you feeling overwhelmed? 

Yeah, I am too. 


But before we get too flustered, I wanted to offer 5 tips for how to read towards your research interests with purpose this semester. 


Tip #1: Curate a reading list. 

For some of us, knowing what to read in regards to our research interest is a huge obstacle. 


Tip number one is to curate a reading list related to questions you want to answer, or population or context you want to study. 


Take the time to search online databases for books and articles, in addition to the physical copies of books.. Browse the curriculum vitae (CV) of prominent scholars in your field for articles. Flip to the end of articles or book chapters to skim the references for other reading that seem relevant. Ask professors or colleagues for recommended readings as well. Think about what the keywords or even “controlled vocabulary” you’d use to search for it.


Curating a reading list is a way to streamline the time spent looking for information that could support your research interests or research questions later.  


Tip #2: Protect your reading time. 

Now, that you have a reading list, it is equally important that you are protecting your reading time. What does that mean? 


First let me say, many of us know too well how easy it is to become distracted from reading due to factors such as social media, noisy environments or having a talkative study buddy. 


Tip number two is about picking the time, place, day, and time management techniques that accommodate your lifestyle and allow you to be an intentional and focused reader. 


For some, this may be blocking off time in the morning while your children are at school or going to a coffee shop and turning your phone off. For some, this means incorporating time management strategies such as the Pomodoro method or scheduling specific readings for certain days.


Protecting your reading time is about setting boundaries that help you to optimize the time you have dedicated to reading. 


Tip #3: Create reading primers or do annotations as you read. 

A personal struggle of mine when it comes to reading, has been figuring out how to summarize my readings and how to best document the information for later use.


Tip number 3 is about note taking as you read in the form of reading primers or annotations. 

A reading primer is a set of questions or categories used to guide your reading. For example, sections of your primer could include: key definitions, key themes, questions that arose while reading, connections to other literature, how is this advancing my work. These prompts help you to break up your reading. 


Another variation of reading primers are annotations. Annotations are also notes or explanation you’ve written about the text.  This semester one of my classes requires that we annotate our class and personal readings in about 6 sentences: 3-4 sentences identifying the main arguments and 2-3 sentences with general reactions.


Personally I think it’s a great way to be organized and show evolution of learning. In addition to being a great way to summarize, primers and annotations are also ways document what you’re reading and refer back to for future writing, teaching, class discussion points, but most importantly as evidence of how we shape our research perspectives. 


Tip #4: Share what you're reading. 

At this point, if you are following these tips to the T, you are reading from your reading list during optimal times and creating detailed notes of your readings! 


Tip number four, recommends you share what you are reading, as a way to begin forming memories about these readings and deepen your understanding of your own research interests. 


When we share what we are reading, we invite people to ask questions and process with us. Sharing is an opportunity shed light on your work through new perspectives and to challenge your thinking about how you want to contribute to your field. 


In reality, the reason many doctoral classes are centered around critical conversations and discourse is because sharing what we think about our reading helps us clarify and refine our perspectives and how we want to contribute to our fields. 


Tip #5: Do what feels right. 

The last tip may contradict all the rest for some of you — but I think it's super important. 


Tip number 5, do what feels right when it comes to reading. 


With all the reading you will do in grad school, the last thing you want to do is read things that you hate AND hate your process for reading. 

Have the discernment to know which topics aren’t really your interest. Take time to figure out a note taking strategy or how to manage your readings (Check out my last post Old Gems, New Season to learn more about citation managers). 


Do what feels right may mean implementing a pacing guide for your reading list or breaking up your course readings with the people in your cohort.. or even skimming the readings.


My main message here is:

Do what feels right when it comes to reading towards your research interest.. but make it meaningful. 



Now, I am curious how you manage reading in grad school?  I would love to hear them and share them with others. 


Comment below or on follow me on Twitter & IG (@_inherlane) to keep the conversation going.


I hope these tips are helpful to you this semester. You got this!


With love,

Briana

Last fall, I had a tweet go viral.



Not going to lie, this was my face watching all the likes, retweets and comments come in over a couple days.


My intention was to vent about grad school (it's hard y'all) and to share some advice I had picked up over my first year of a Master's program. In an 11-post thread I shared 5 general tips for understanding and being productive in grad school. To my surprise, it was received very well and affirmed that we are all out here trying to get through! (even faculty)


A year later, now degreed and on to a doctoral program, I wanted to share the thread again and offer some additional words of wisdom.


Alright, here we go:

The intro tweet:

Yep, this is pretty consistent! Grad school is no less harder than last year. Even with growing knowledge of the research process and my field, new tasks and challenges force me to digger deeper into myself on a daily basis.

*Please don't mind the spelling and grammatical errors sprinkled throughout the posts.


1. Prioritize and protect your time.

In grad school, everything takes 20x longer than you anticipate. In my experience, when I have underestimated how long a task to complete, it compromises the quality research I am able to produce and how well I am able to teach.


The key to prioritizing and protecting your time is first doing a trial run of the task and learning how to appropriately schedule time for it in the future. Whether planning your course for the week, reading and annotating an article, or researching a statistical method, it take may take having boundaries around your time, in order to be a more efficient student.


2. Be resourceful.

In grad school, most people want to see you win -- but it is also expected that as a life-long learner you are going to take responsibility over your learning and be resourceful about getting your own needs met.


Resources are anything and/or anyone that can help you find the answers you're looking for.

Sometimes in grad school we don't know exactly what we're looking for, but its important to be aware of who and what is available to support you.


Whether finding the materials to independently explore your research interest, or trying to figure out how to get a parking pass on campus, its important to be resourceful and perhaps assertive about finding and getting support.


3. Use a citation manager

Moment of transparency, I have not been able to successfully use a citation manager in two years. But it does not mean you don't need one.


Citation managers are a tool for storing and organizing and sharing academic articles. They provide an infrastructure for helping students to track what they are reading, note take and easily retrieve the information in the future. Throughout grad school you will be exposed to much more information than you can consume at that moment -- but please don't be ignorant to believe that some of those readings won't be needed in the future.


It seriously behooves us to not have a system for archiving what we have read, are reading, or should read later. Here are links to a couple you can check out:


4. Write it out.

What they don't tell you when you get admitted to grad school is that you've signed up for 3-5 years of learning how read and write again.. in order to clarify and substantiate your argument. It's perfecting how to 1) summarize what you've read, 2) how to integrate and synthesize information across texts and then 3) how to re-present your argument to other scholars, practitioners, stakeholders. For a long time, I did not realize these are all writing exercises and ways to begin "speaking" to the different audiences you care about (scholars, practitioners, parents, the general public, etc.)


Each audience requires different language. So keep writing to get your message out! If you haven't heard, published writing is the currency in academia. This means that in academia, writing journal articles, book chapters, grant proposals, op-eds is valued and one of the main ways to be recognized in your field.


5. Be open to the process.

As I said in the beginning, "grad school ain't no joke". I'm goofy and I brought my goofy self into my Master's program and got a huge wakeup call to how rigorous and rewarding grad school is.


Be open to making new friends. Be open to your research interests or topics evolving. Be open to how much graduate school will take a toll on your thinking, how you approach life and success. Be open to failure and ambiguity. Be open to opportunities you believe you are not qualified for!


I would say most importantly, be open to how to visualize yourself as Dr. (insert your name). More than ever, this is a time that scholars should embrace more than the traditional tenure track path -- be open to seeing more possibilities with your PhD. With new research methodologies emerging, new issues to address, new ways of disseminating information, and new entities pouring into real people and causes, there is no need to limit yourself to being a university professor.


I hope these old gems resonate with you in this new season!


I would love to hear from you other tips for graduate students.

Comment below or follow me on Twitter to keep the conversation going.


Until next time,

Briana


In education, critical reflection is a pedagogical and instructional tool used to frame and scaffold learning  in order to make sense of an experience. As we all know, reflection extends beyond the classroom. It’s a continuous process that helps us as adults find some calibration, peace and direction.


The tagline, Her Education Reimagined, came from my own moments of critical reflection. I knew I wanted to create a platform where I can delve into the intersections of race and education, but from a personal, authentic vantage point. Over time it became clear that I was limiting myself on how to approach the topic of education and attempt to support other Black women, other graduate students, and other educators. For the longest, I was missing opportunities to redefine education.


Education being the fullness of universal enlightenment and reimagine my own experiences as an education needing to be shared. 


Her education reimagined is about:

Recognizing education beyond academics, in order to embrace life as the universal teacher. 

It's about remembering my ancestors, my parents, teachers and role models and how their lessons and ways show up in my day to day. 


It’s about revisiting my past experiences to sort through origins of purpose, trauma, habits, hobbies, belief and value systems. 


It’s about relearning how to do the very things that brought me to where I am today. The small things like cooking or taking notes. About finding balance as life brings more responsibility.


It’s about reframing the negatives as positives and seeing our stories as places for connection to others, to go deeper into our selves or into solving societal issues. 


In the last couple months, I’ve been searching for my why. The motivating factor(s) for why I research Black students, their identity, their motivation, how they relate to their instruction

and why I enjoy talking endlessly with people about their goals and entrepreneurship. 

And it is because I have hopes we all will have the teachers/mentors, resources, access, exposure, curriculum that helps us cultivate our gifts and aspirations. 


bell hooks once wrote,

"To be truly visionary we have to root our imagination in our concrete reality while simultaneously imagining possibilities beyond that reality"

Reimagining her education about using reflections as a roadmap to take more informed steps towards the life I envision for myself and those around me. My highest intentions are that in my process of reflecting and applying what I am learning, others are able to find liberation and guidance in my story.


I hope this post provides some insight into my journey and what to expect from In Her Lane.


Please leave any comments or feedback below! You can also follow me on Instagram & Twitter at @_inherlane to stay up to date with my journey.


Until next time,


Briana

5/5
"There is no greater agony than bearing the burden of an untold story."
-Maya Angelou