Let Summer Read 2016 Begin!

copyright 2016, U of Toronto Press

Happy July, true believers! As promised nine days ago, the shiny new Teaching Prof in Progress Book Club is launching an inaugural Summer Read virtual book discussion. And everyone who teaches (or cares about teaching and teachers) in higher education is invited… So let’s get this party started!

4thofjulyspeedodude

promise that guy will not be there.

Our first Summer Read will be a discussion of Maggie Berg and Barbara Seeber’s The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy (2016, University of Toronto Press) on the Goodreads social media site. And getting involved is super easy:

Participation will also be easy.  I will post discussion questions on the Book Club’s page, and we’re off! You can respond, post your own discussion questions, and engage one another throughout the month of July until August 8 as your summer schedule allows — flexibly, on your own time.

To give you a teaser of what we’ll discuss, here are the questions for the Introduction to the book — a tad provocative, if I do say so myself? [And sorry, but no page numbers for the quotations… I’m reading the Kindle edition.]

(1) The Introduction points out the familiar 1-2 punch that motivated the authors to write the book:

  • “Flexibility of hours can translate into working all the time, particularly because academic work by its very nature is never done.”
  • “When we look at studies of academic stress, we are struck by how many situations identified as sources of work stress are about lack of time.”

Let’s start the conversation by addressing the elephant in the room: is this problem, ultimately, unfixable? What have been your experiences with this dilemma? Thoughts?

(2) At one point the authors observe, regarding policy change at our institutions,

  • “A surprising common thread in studies of the corporate university is an emphasis on change being in the hands of individual professors.”

Potentially empowering, sure, but adding to our stress? What kinds of related observations and/or experiences have you had? Thoughts?

(3) What else struck you as important in the Introduction? Observations? Questions for the group?

Intrigued???? Hope so!  Come join the club, tell your friends, colleagues and grad students about it (and the TPP blog, and the Facebook and Twitter platforms), and let’s meet in the salon!

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Slowing down… feelin’ groovy? or delusional?

Sometimes tourist traps really get the job done.

So, how has your summer been so far? I have been pretty good about taking it easy and refreshing myself. While I have only very recently started back on working out and getting back in shape (only a month behind my resolved schedule), I just wrapped up a fun family vacation to Branson, Missouri — a few days of amusement park-ing, tacky-tastic touristing, and time in the pool with my kids and on the town with my best girl.

I haven’t been all lay-about idle (as my summer school prep and recent relaunching of this blog attest)… but I have been slowing down, and feelin’ groovy.

Alas, the incursions of the real world inevitably intrude as they will — time-sensitive e-mails about administrative matters from colleagues and students, and the realization that summer school will start all to soon, meaning summer school prep Must. Be. Finished. Soon.  I want to feel groovier more consistently, but sometimes going slower makes me feel anxious and guilty — not very groovy at all. Sound familiar?

[A potentially useful response for all of us after the jump!]

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Where have I been? Just truckin’ along…

Robert Crumb, http://www.trippystore.com/robert_crumb_keep_on_truckin_black_light_poster.html

 

Welcome back to the blog, new readers and true believers. Lately it occurs to me, what a long, strange trip it’s been.

 

Some of you might have little tickles in the back of your brain, vague memories of my last post on August 24, 2015. I was preparing to begin the next career adventure: a new faculty position in the University of Missouri’s Department of Communication. For the new fellow traveler, or for those needing a reminder, click here for the post.  The first day of school is often a time of verdant optimism — it always has been for me. And so there I was, anticipating with enthusiasm my regular blog updates, chronicling this pivotal year of transition, reflecting on the challenges, rewards and discoveries of the sea change from tenured full professor and part-time administrator at a small liberal arts college to non-tenure-track teaching faculty at a flagship public research university.

And then life happened.

Doesn’t it always?

 

(Find out what happened after the jump!)

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Thoughts on starting over on the first day of school.

Last week my two kids started the school year in a new state, in a new town, in new schools. Today, it’s my turn.

Well, for the most part. There have been a number of preliminary moves up to this point: acquiring the new office and the new e-mail address, meeting with my new department chair, attending start-of-the-year orientation meetings and barbecues for faculty. But today brings Zero Hour. After spending fourteen years at my previous small liberal arts college, departing as a tenured full professor with a slate of class preps in the can and administrative experience, today I begin the next stage of my career as a non-tenure-track teaching faculty member at an R1 flagship state university. I’m doubling my teaching load from last year, with courses I haven’t taught in over a decade. Even the calendar of the academic year is different. And I’m shaking in my boots.

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Help Your New Faculty (Re-)Launch Their Careers!

As I relaunch this blog, I am also relaunching in other ways as well.

My family has recently relocated from our home of ten years to a new home in a new state. That means my kids are starting new schools and starting to make new friends. And my wife and I are starting new faculty positions at a new university. As my partner is starting a career as a newly minted Ph.D. on the tenure-track, I am relaunching my career from one of tenured full professor at a small liberal arts college to one of NTT teaching faculty at a large R1 university. And today I will participate in an orientation for a multi-section course (in a subject I haven’t taught on over a decade!) with new doctoral students, some of whom have never taught before. So, obviously, restarts and new beginnings are pretty salient for me right now.

In my previous position as a faculty developer, I co-led a new faculty orientation program and a year-long group mentoring program for first year faculty. This morning I’m remembering the excitement and anticipation of those folks, as well as their questions, concerns, and anxieties. They are very real in my home this year, as they are in the homes and offices of new faculty everywhere. Folks who are relaunching their professional lives, either as brand new faculty or as experienced faculty in new institutions, are relaunching their personal lives as well. It’s important, then, for faculty colleagues and administrators to make sure that they (we???) have the resources and support for a successful launch and a safe, productive flight into new skies.

Tanya Golash-Boza from the University of California at Merced provides the following useful suggestions in this morning’s Vitae (which, especially if you are new faculty, is a great career development resource to follow). These are easy things that faculty leaders and institutions can provide that can really make a difference in this crucial period for new faculty.

If you have additional thoughts or suggestions, please share in the comments! And do feel free to “relaunch” this post and the TPP in progress to the new faculty and faculty developers you know!


10 Ways to Support New Faculty

August 13, 2015

As we near summer’s end, many colleges and universities are looking for ways to support new faculty members arriving on campus. Administrators and senior professors often realize that the old system of de facto mentoring — with older faculty casually showing their new colleagues the ropes — has its limitations.

Institutions usually start upgrading their faculty mentoring in two basic ways. First they formally assign a mentor to each new faculty member. Second,they set up a series of workshops on how to be successful on the job.

The system of assigning a mentor to each new hire is an important baseline. However, it has some of the same pitfalls of the de-facto system in that not all senior professors are good mentors, and many times they do not relate well to the challenges faced by new faculty. And it’s unrealistic to expect one faculty member to meet all of the varied needs of a junior colleague. Likewise, workshops on “How to Write Your First Book” or “Getting Your First Grant” can be indispensable, but many new faculty need support beyond a few one-hour, one-shot seminars.

Those two approaches are certainly better than nothing. However, there are many other, more creative ways of mentoring new (and older) faculty. I offer the following list of 10, none of which cost more than a few thousand dollars, and some of which are practically free.

  • Organize family meet-and-greets in a campus gym.

New faculty with small children often find it difficult to attend an evening event, and are also interested in meeting other professors with kids. Organizing a family-friendly meet-and-greet in a fun place like a gym can be a great solution. Make sure there are organized activities for the kids or even a few giant yoga balls to toss around.

  • Offer small grants to junior faculty to travel for off-campus mentoring.

In addition to on-campus mentors, newcomers to the profession often need to build their network by finding mentors and advocates outside of their home institutions. Departments can help by setting aside money to help faculty members defray such travel costs.

  • Give small grants to new faculty to invite senior scholars to campus.

The idea here is to ask visiting scholars to critique the work of new junior faculty. This often takes the form of a “book workshop” where a new faculty member invites three other academics to campus to discuss and critique the junior scholar’s book manuscript. I know faculty members who have done that, and found it a very valuable experience.

  • Sponsor campus discussions of books on writing and good work habits.

There are tons of amazing productivity books out there that new faculty should read, such as How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing. Even better than just reading a book is to get together with colleagues to discuss the book. That not only ensures that the book doesn’t just sit on the shelf; it also gives people the opportunity to share pointers, work through challenges, and hear about other helpful books.

  • Reward stellar on-campus mentors.

As I mentioned, not all faculty members are capable mentors. By establishing a mentoring award, the university can both honor people who are good at mentoring and establish role models for other faculty who would like to be better mentors.

  • Create training workshops for faculty mentors.

Many faculty members have no idea how to be effective mentors, but they can learn. In training workshops, award-winning mentors can provide tips on their most effective mentoring practices.

  • Hold monthly problem-solving lunches.

A free lunch is an inexpensive, easy, and much-appreciated way to get academics together. A monthly lunch for new faculty gives them an opportunity to both make friends and talk through common challenges.

  • Organize writing feedback groups.

All academics need feedback on their writing. It can be challenging, however, to find people to critique your work. One way around that problem is to organize small writing groups with four members who meet four times during the semester or quarter. At each meeting, one person gets feedback on their work from the rest of the group, so hat by the end of the term each participant has gotten their work critiqued.

  • Organize writing accountability groups.

Writing feedback groups can be great when we need critiques, but sometimes we just need encouragement and support. Institutions can help faculty members by organizing four-member writing accountability groups that meet once a week for an hour. That helps motivate the group members to keep writing and also gives them a place to talk about productivity challenges and successes.

  • Provide a faculty-only writing space on campus.

Many academics have trouble writing in their offices because of constant interruptions. One solution is to create a quiet space on campus where faculty members can go to write. If the space has coffee, even better!

At many institutions, a cultural shift in mentoring practices is needed. A place that has long had a de facto or nonexistent mentoring program can be transformed into one where a positive mentoring culture exists. Mentoring programs will not be successful if they are “one size fits all.” However, by offering a variety of options, colleges and universities can support their faculty members and build community while they are at it.

Tanya Golash-Boza is an associate professor at University of California at Merced.

– See more at: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/1097-10-ways-to-support-new-faculty?cid=VTEVPMSED1#sthash.5FJRJFtR.dpuf

It’s that time again!!! “What Do You Do on the First Day of Class?”

As part of the TPP relaunch, here’s some helpful stuff for the start of the academic year!

Teaching Prof in Progress

If you’re a school geek like me — not to mention if you’re a parent — the first day of school is a magical time.

But for us teachers, it can also be a nerve-wracking time… there are a number of goals we have for kicking off our class in the right way: establishing our own persona, introducing the course in a way that whets the students’ appetites, establishing clear expectations, and establishing a welcoming and warm yet serious classroom environment. [Maryellen Weimer blogged a short yet dead-useful summary of goals and tips last year in the Teaching Professor.] Yeah, yeah, we introduce the syllabus, but what then?

Just in time, Josh Boldt at the University of Georgia shares a great idea — both for building a welcoming classroom culture and for helping you learn names and faces! — in Vitae. Boldt also gives a shout-out…

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Make a great first impression… with your syllabus!

As part of the TPP relaunch, here’s some helpful stuff for the start of the academic year!

Teaching Prof in Progress

The old cliche reminds us that we never get a second chance to make a first impression. So true.

This is particularly true for the first day of class, and that all-important document that goes along with it: the syllabus. Sure, the syllabus fulfills some specific course information and management functions. But it can also play a crucial part in how you come across as a teacher, and how your course is framed and received by students.

Just in time for your last-minute syllabus completion crunch, here’s an oldie-but-goodie post on theTeaching Professor Blog by Maryellen Weimer. There’s good stuff here to consider in order to help your syllabus help you make an effective first impression — and maintain it as long as students continue to use the syllabus in your course.

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AUGUST 24, 2011

What Does Your Syllabus Say About You and Your Course?

By: Maryellen…

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