We encourage students to become 'reflective learners' – but in general undergraduates are poor at reflection. Some assume they're perfect and all assume that they're perfectible works-in-progress.
I know differently. I've never been perfect and with age my character flaws have grown ever more apparent. But my strengths are equally clear and as adults we become proficient at masking the one with the other.
So here's my reflection on my (academic) year, starting with what's gone well. For context, I returned to a full-time role in September after an inexplicable year of trying something different.
- My teaching hightlight was leading a large, lively and experimental postgraduate module (Public Relations and New Media). Not all welcomed the wilfully unstructured delivery – but it forced everyone to think and there was some very strong student work from a very diverse group.
- I have spent my adult life trying to turn a love of history into paid work in public relations. This year I turned a PR-for-PR project into a paper at a History of Public Relations conference.
- We're in a recession and graduates are sometimes derided for lacking workplace skills. Yet I'm still aware of more employers seeking good graduates than good graduates lacking suitable work. Nothing pleases me more than connecting the one with the other.
- My own research is limited (see below), but I'm delighted that a postgraduate who I supervised has had a paper accepted at the Euprera Congress 2011 (which we have both been involved in promoting).
- I've become something of a professional qualifications expert, and helped with delivery of the CIPR Diploma in another country (in addition to location-based and online delivery).
- I've edited online magazine Behind the Spin for over four years. We have a viable and valuable student magazine (with cash in the bank) – and I should now start looking to pass this on to a suitable home.
- I blog infrequently at PR Studies – yet it's still what I'm best known for. Perhaps this is a weakness (see below)?
- What have I written? I'm not a traditional academic focused on 'research outputs', but I should be capable of some original thought or interesting publication. So where is it? Are the blogs and tweets merely a displacement activity?
- I was fortunate to have gained a very good education in the humanities, during which quesions were always more interesting than answers. Yet I'm more often teaching people who expect a didactic and definitive approach to knowledge. (Knowing my weakness, I get an opportunity to work on it: I'm leading a new module for first year undergraduates – Principles of Public Relations, a chance to teach theory rather than practice.)
- I'm impatient with process and paperwork. I regret this where students are involved, but still feel there's a point to be made at an institutional level. I could be wrong…