Crane-kick that publication, Part 2: Electric Boogaloo

Who doesn’t love a sequel? Summer is a great time for them, isn’t it? (Reminds me… still need to get to How to Train Your Dragon 2…) Of course, some are better than others…

Last month I re-blogged a helpful little article with tips for getting published. This morning I saw that the author, a journal editor at the University of British Columbia, wrote a follow-up piece with some helpful advice. Since we’re at about the halfway point of the summer, a prime time for many of us to re-focus on our scholarship, it seemed prudent to pass it along. (And since the author references The Princess Bride right after the jump, you know she’s cool.)

So enjoy this follow-up from Kirsten Bellpublished in Vitae from the Chronicle.

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Random Reflections on Getting Published

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July 14, 2014

In my last article, I provided a handful of obvious tips for junior scholars on getting journal articles published. My aim wasn’t to provide a comprehensive guide to publication, but instead to highlight common (and easily rectified) issues that I see regularly as an associate editor of an academic journal.

But there’s more to say. So as a follow-up, I thought I’d offer a few random reflections informed by my work as an editor and my experiences as an author.

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A productive summer writing plan: It’s not too late!

"AHA! Now I can finally finish that article! Pass me another shandy and ear of sweet corn!"

As the extended July 4th weekend festivities retreat into memory, I know what many of you are thinking… because it’s what I’m thinking:

“Gads, the summer break is nearly halfway over! What happened to the time?!?”

Especially for those of us at teaching-intensive institutions, and/or with hefty service obligations during the academic year, summer is a time we count on to get reconnected with our scholarship, especially our writing. But it’s also a time — and rightfully so — when we reconnect with our families, our hobbies, our capacity to rest and recreate. And so it’s all too easy to let our work slide. That is, if we don’t have a plan.

Kerry Ann Rockquemore, President and CEO of the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity, wrote this short but useful piece two months ago. Rick Reis of the tomorrows-professor e-mail listserv (have you subscribed yet???) helpfully resent it last week. These tips, incidentally, aren’t just useful for the summer… so you’ve got plenty of time to prepare for your fall writing plan!

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Let’s Get Ready for Summer Writing

Happy end of term! Happy Graduation! and CONGRATULATIONS! You survived another academic year! And you know what that means: the summer writing season is right around the corner. Throughout the spring semester, I kept hearing from beleaguered faculty and graduate students who couldn’t wait for summer so they could “get some serious writing done.” And yet, every August I hear from just as many folks lamenting about how another summer has passed by and, once again, they failed to make progress on their intellectual projects. As we head into the summer break, I’m feeling motivated to help eradicate end-of-summer regret among academic writers! To that end, this summer’s Monday Motivators are designed to be your week-by-week support system for your summer writing and productivity.

Summer Writing Challenges

While we often fantasize about the freedom that summer represents, there are some important challenges to consider during the summer months. The most important challenge is the deception of unstructured time. Freedom from teaching, committee meetings, advising, and the day-to-day drama of campus life can create the illusion that we have lots of time. Imagining that we have infinite time can lead us to procrastinate and/or belabor tasks unnecessarily. Additionally, for those of you who aren’t daily writers during the academic year, you may experience the challenge of heightened expectations. In other words, putting off writing until the summer can create intense pressure (particularly for tenure-track faculty) that you must complete a year’s worth of writing in 12 weeks.

Childcare poses yet another challenge to summer writing. Changed schedules for school-aged children, gaps between the end of school and beginning of summer camps, and the increased expense of additional childcare during the summer months can leave some parents struggling to manage additional childcare and a rigorous writing schedule. Finally, some of you are simply exhausted from the intensity of the academic year and, more than anything else, feel the need to address all the neglected areas of your physical health, social life, and personal relationships during the summer months.

While it’s important to understand the challenges academic writers face during summer breaks, they point to the keys for a productive summer. I believe those are: 1) knowing what you need as a human being and what you need to accomplish as a writer and researcher, 2) creating a realistic plan to meet all of your needs, and 3) connecting with the type of community, support and accountability that will sustain you through the summer months. I think each semester should start with a plan, so for this week I want to encourage you to set aside 30-60 minutes, grab your calendar and a piece of paper, and develop a clear and concrete plan.

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Suggestions for your summer reading list

How's this for a summer agenda?

As I prepare to take on a new role at Augie as the Director of the Center for Faculty Enrichment, I’m starting to look into the possibility of building a professional development library for my colleagues, as well as locating some good options for faculty reading groups. So once summer school is over at the end of June, I’m looking forward to a good month and a half of reading. (Actually, this will get to extend into the next school year, as my new post corresponds with a fall sabbatical. Good books instead of student essays for a couple of months? Yes please!) So this blog post from James M. Lang in the Chronicle of Higher Education has fortuitous timing… for you as well as for me, I expect.

Summer is a good time for catching up on the reading we might not enjoy as frequently during the academic year — rich literary texts to nourish us, pulpy beach reads for a tasty fix of mental junk food.  And lots of us read to advance our scholarly project, of course. But this is also a great opportunity to take in some fascinating research and useful advice on teaching and learning… because course prep in August will hit us before we know it, and why not kick off the next year by trying something new?

A few of these books have been featured in previous Augustana faculty retreats and reading groups — so I can recommend the volumes by Ken Bain and Susan A. Ambrose et al. For myself, after taking a great webinar with him, I can’t wait to dig into José Bowen’s Teaching Naked (no, I’m not a pervert).

If you have any suggestions for good reading on the scholarship and practice of teaching and learning, please share them in the comments below. I’m always looking for another addition to the library!

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Top 10 Books on Teaching

Spend some time this summer with at least one book about improving your college classroom

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[Creative Commons-licensed photo by Flickr user Raoul Luoar.]

IThe Vocation of a Teacher, Wayne Booth, the literary critic and longtime English professor, posed a question that floats into my mind every May: “Why, if I claim to love teaching so much, am I so relieved when it’s over?”

I was especially glad this May because I will be on sabbatical from my teaching responsibilities for the 2014-15 academic year. I have two book projects I hope to complete over the course of the next 15 months. That might sound like an overly ambitious agenda, but the last time I was on leave, my wife and I couldn’t afford full-time child care for our 2-year-old twins on my reduced sabbatical salary. Now that all of our children are in school, I am counting on a major increase in my productive writing time.

Before diving into those writing projects, though, I will spend a little time reflecting on the semester that has come and gone, and looking to discover at least one great new book on teaching and learning in higher education. As much as I love what I do, and seek ways to improve the learning experiences I shape for my students, I find little or no time for substantial professional reading during the academic year. The summer offers me the opportunity to catch up.

I have been trying to stay current in small doses. Colleagues on Twitterhave been especially useful in pointing me to articles, blogs, and resources that are worth my attention for the first 10 or 15 minutes of my working day. And I will confess that, as a result of that reading, I have been suffering from some revolution fatigue this year. I’m not sure I can stand to read one more warning about how the entire system of higher education is about to collapse, or yet another celebration of the fact that it has begun collapsing already and we should help it along.

Big changes are both coming and necessary, no doubt about it—especially in terms of the financial model of higher education, and its increasing exploitation of adjunct labor. But in the meantime, the work of teaching our students, as many of us do on heavy teaching loads, has to continue. And I firmly believe that if every teaching faculty member could carve out the time to read one or two great books on teaching and learning every year, we would collectively serve our students much better than we do already.

In service to that conviction, I offer below the top 10 books on teaching and learning in higher education that I have encountered over the course of my teaching career. Each of these books has shaped—or reshaped—my teaching in some substantive and practical way: the construction of my syllabus, the nature of my assignments, the way I conduct class,the feedback I give to students. All of these books deserve a wide readership among faculty members, and any one of them represents a great place to start or continue your professional development.

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Schooooool’s out… for… writing!

Alice Cooper (and the Muppets) capture an important sentiment: YESSSSSS!!!!!!!!!! The academic year can feel exhausting at the very end, and now that we’ve hit summer there’s a usual, and totally necessary, impulse to celebrate, then relax and unwind. I know I plan to do just that.

At the same time, summer is also the time when many of us count on the time away from teaching and meetings to get some of our most serious research and writing done. And that’s where we run smack dab into a familiar irony: we can often be our least productive when we have the most unstructured time. Faced both with the perennial “there’s so much… where do I start?” problem and the aforementioned impulse to chillax, we can perceive the expanse of unstructured free time ahead of us, observe, “that’s OK, I’ve got plenty of time,” and then hit the beach, the bookstore, or the Netflix binge.

…and then it’s mid-August, and the next academic year looms. Oops.

Facing this condition right now (spring grades were turned in yesterday, YESSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!), I happily came across this piece by Indiana University’s Kelly Hanson in Inside Higher Ed‘s GradHacker blog (which is a great resource you should check out, even if your grad student days are behind you).  It’s a good reminder of some concrete steps we can take to keep our writing moving forward by adding some structure and intentionality to our summer free time.

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May 27, 2014 – 8:28pm

Photo of empty classroomKelly Hanson is a PhD candidate in the Department of English at Indiana University, Bloomington. She loves grad school because even though she gets older, her dissertation just stays the same age. You can follow her on Twitter at@krh121910.

Summer is upon us here in Southern Indiana, and in between barbeques and long weekend bike rides, I have some epic plans for my dissertation this summer. The trouble? The lack of semesterly structure makes me feel like I am untethered. Summer, for me, is one of the most difficult times to write. My summer productivity has been hit or miss in the past. But this summer, I am ready to get this chapter done.

During the semester, I have found the most effective way to get writing done is to create a daily schedule with scheduled and measurable goals. In the summer, this is even more important for me because when my schedule is so open I feel like I can just always write later. Creating a summer calendar to match my goals is the only way I can get writing done during the summer. We’ve written before about the transition between summer and the semester, but today, I offer some techniques for transferring your writing projects from the regimented time of the semester to the amorphous and unscheduled expanses of summer break.

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Pass this post to a friend who doesn’t read this blog.

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In the wake of Memorial Day, my spring grades are in, I’ve bid some of my favorite students farewell as they collected their diploma, and I’m now happily sliding into summer. For many of us in higher education, while summer is certainly a time of rest and recharging, is it also often a time for reflection, professional development, and maybe some experimentation.

This June I’m teaching an immersive learning community and my first ever online course (I’ll blog more on that at a later date). Later this summer I will do some research writing, and prepare for a new position this fall — beginning with my fall sabbatical, I will transition into a new position as the Director of the Center for Faculty Enrichment at Augustana College.

So, a big part of my summer and fall will involve reading and thinking about faculty development opportunities: what my colleagues and I need, in what ways we can learn and grow as academic professionals… and how to encourage folks to actually come out and take advantage of the resources and ideas available. It’s a daunting and humbling prospect, I don’t mind telling you.

So when Maryellen Weimer from The Teaching Professor posted these thoughts on Faculty Focus, I appreciated the opportunity to share them — to encourage all of us to reflect on our work as teachers, scholars and campus citizens this summer, to look for opportunities for continuing development… and maybe to start a conversation.

I’m hoping to crowdsource, now: If you could have any sort of faculty development program during the next academic year, what would you like? Any especially desirable topics? Formats? Special events or programs? Please share in the comments at the end of this post… I need all the help I can get.
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Making the Most of Professional Development Days

By Maryellen Weimer, PhD

I am on my way to speak at another professional development day at a college. I do these events with misgivings—frequently persuading myself on the way home that I really shouldn’t be doing them.

Some time ago, a colleague and I reviewed the literature on interventions to improve instruction. If I were to do that paper again, I would pay special attention to those changes that improved student learning. The research we looked at then did not give workshops very high marks. If teachers changed, they did so right after the event, but soon reverted to their old ways of doing things.

A lot of workshops (mine included) have a kind of revival service feel to them. The faculty who are there care deeply about teaching; those who need to be revived don’t usually show up. So, the audience isn’t all that difficult to convert. If you’ve got an idea they think might be good, especially if it addresses a problem that concerns them, they write it down or key it in, often nodding with gusto and then following up with questions on the details. Give them five or six concrete ideas and they become true believers, whole new teachers who leave the session determined to lead new and better lives in the classroom. But it’s the staying power of workshop experiences that give me pause.

Even so, I’m still doing professional development days and here’s what I tell myself about why I should.

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