Thinking Like a Student

I was lucky enough to participate in a university photo shoot for national recruitment brochures. I had an opportunity to chat with the student “models” during the mock office hours and mock classroom lecture. One of the things that I was struck with was that the students wanted to know what made a student a favorite of mine. I was polite and tried to explain that I do not really think of my students that way. Instead, I think about how I want students to be successful and learn. I really did not understand the question at first. Then, it hit me, they wanted to know what do I like in a student.

I appreciate it when a student is prepared, on time, demonstrates familiarity with the course materials, and current events. I appreciate it when a student is trying and seems to care about doing well for the sake of learning the material or more about Political Science. Do I have favorites, though? I thought about this over the course of the next week, and my first reaction was: no. I still think that I do not have favorites.I have had students announce that he is my favorite student, and usually that student is not. I am not sure why he (the student has usually been a male student) has pronounced this. I have responded with, “I don’t have favorites.” Admittedly, this sort of student is usually a well-meaning, class clown type and is usually poking fun at both of us. I’m OK with this.

I have students who I get to know better by virtue of them taking more courses with me, my honors students, and then the students who I am mentoring in a stronger capacity thanks to office hours, and additional chats. Then, there are the students who have different issues: crises, help navigating support on campus or other issues, and I get to know them better. I think that the students that I know better are the ones who I light up when I see and these students are not favorites, but students who I merely know better. To answer the question: No I do not have favorites. I have students who I know better for various reasons. I do think, though, that the students who have had special circumstances have a special place in my mind, though. They have overcome some hardship and their success means something different to me. These are the students who make me want to tear up in happiness or even anger when things do not go their way. But, this does not make them favorites. Like I said, I do not completely understand the question. I would frame it differently. What makes a student stand out? What type of students do I prefer? Those are questions that make more sense to me, but I do not think like a student. I am on the other side of the table, desk, and classroom.

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Continuing the Conversation About Leaning In

Many are still responding to Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. People have both applauded and attacked the book and Sandberg. I was recently catching up on my magazines and read a review in the April issue of the Atlantic and came across Garance Franke-Ruta’s “Miss Education.” Franke-Ruta notes that women are doing a great job in seeking higher education. Women are leaning in at university, but once they leave they fall behind. In short, we do well at school, but when we get our first job we do not negotiate well. I do not really agree with all of her article. Franke-Ruta uses dating as a metaphor. She explains that women are waiting to be noticed or wooed and this is different for men, since they seek out the job and feel more comfortable negotiating their salaries. Many articles and books point out that women do not negotiate their salaries and benefits well or as well as their male counterparts.

What the author is getting at in an interesting if not problematic way is that women are socialized to not negotiate well and to not find work in the same way that men do. This might explain why some 4.2% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women (28). What we might actually need is more leadership training for women, better mentoring programs in university, and in the workplace. Franke-Ruta is correct that education is not the panacea, but it is not just the formal education that is needed, but re-education of peoples’ expectations about women and men. We need better career education and mentoring all along the education and work pipeline. And, we need stop dismissing the career advice in Lean In and other books. They are targeting professional women and we need to embrace the message and not just attack the messenger. These books are clearly not for everyone–which career book is? I am including a screen shot from the article that assesses other similar books. Many thanks to the Franke-Ruta for her provocative review. You can see that these books share one major point: it’s important to ask for a raise.

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The Art of Phoning It In

What does it mean to “phone it in.” Generally speaking this means to give something little effort. To phone it in means that you made an attempt to do something. This does not mean that you tried hard, as you merely phoned it in. There are the occasional work outs that I phone in and hopefully get inspired to do more half way through the work out. There are days at work when I phone it in at a meeting or go through the motions, when I am not feeling well. However, I do not make a habit of doing this, as my job is too important to me to do this. Plus, students are smart. They know when a professor is phoning it in, and frankly, they do not like it. Can I blame them? This is my job. But, alas, I have expectations for them, too.

When do you phone it in?

I’m done teaching for about seven weeks and I am thinking about the last school year and the moments when I have phoned it in or when my coworkers or students phone it in. People say that Cs and Ds earn degrees, while this is true these sort of grades do not normally expedite getting jobs. Some students are clearly going through the motions, and I understand that. Some students do not want to be at the university or are not ready to do the work. But, there is something to say about a focused, hard worker who might have those occasional moments of phoning it in, but does not make a habit of phoning it in at work. Yes, I am saying that school is work. Students learn critical thinking, writing, time management, and hopefully get opportunities to collaborate with classmates. School is work and work is school. Success in university does not necessarily correlate into success off campus, and many college drop outs in the tech industry can attest to this. But, I have a word of advice for the rest of us:

Do not phone it in.

The photo below is a beautiful cake made my Real Food Made Easy, @toots11, Janice Mansfield. She never phones it in!

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Some of You Will Like Me

Another term is ending for me and one theme that stands out for me is part of a lecture that I gave my students in my American Politics class. (The department renamed the course United States Politics, but my default over twenty years is American Politics. I know, I’m exercising American exceptionalism here or you can accuse me of that). The lecture was a primer one on how to do well on the assignments and I spoke to critical thinking and need for a higher level of analysis. I also advised them to come see me in my office hours. Then, I did something that I do not normally do. I referred to that site that allows people to rate instructors. You know which one that I am referring to–don’t you? It is like Voldemo…you cannot say the name!

The reason I referred to the site, as I explained to my students was that the last time I had quickly reviewed my ratings, I noted one person say that it is important to get me to like you. I recall having a quick laugh and smiling for the next twenty minutes, as this is not true. I told the students in my class, “I like all of you. The difference is that some of you will like me back.” I explained that my life is quite full and I am content. I also shared with them that my teaching philosophy statement notes that I am not in the habit of chasing the 5, which is the perfect score on our teaching evaluations. Yes, I had included this sentence in my dossier for a teaching award, the Faculty of Social Sciences Excellence in Teaching. I was honored to get the award! Back to my comments to my students, I was extremely honest with this group and later left the classroom feeling satisfied with this moment of brutal honesty.

The fact that a person or some people would think that instructors only “give” good marks to students that they like is false. Trust me, I have run the Excel equation and said, “Oh, no.” This is that moment when you really want a student to do well, but one assignment or two assignments sealed their mark with a C or worse. You feel for the student, but there is nothing you can do. Ultimately, what I told my students is that I try to have an open mind and that many of them come from various places across the province and some out of province. Regardless of where they are from there is a whole host of different views and more importantly different abilities with writing, thinking, and success with the work of being a student. I also explained to them that they will perform better in courses that they are interested in and should try to take courses that appeal to them. Then, they need to show up. Go to class, go to office hours, and get to know their instructors or Teaching Assistants. I even referrred to Wil Wheaton’s comments in a high school yearbook and he said the same thing: go to class, go to office hours. I agree with him. (Hey, follow him @wilw). In my opinion, it is not a matter of my liking you. No, it is about my assessment of the work and hopefully seeing an improvement through the term. This puts a smile on my face. It is great to write on the assignment: your work has improved, bravo!

The students who I mentor or coach I get to know better and subsequently do like them in a different way. I have had more opportunities to get to know them. And, I must say here that I have mentored more students who hold political opinions that are quite different than my own. My mentoring or teaching does not take this into consideration. Most years, I find that I am mentoring an equal number of women and men students; even though our campus is 60% women and 40% men. Overall, I would be hard pressed to say that I dislike a student. No, I am more apt to feel a negative thought about a colleague in another unit, who pontificates about how teaching is beneath us or questioning my presence on Senate as a teaching focused professor. These sort of statements rub me the wrong way.

I have a special place in students’ lives. I am part of their college experience. I can be a mentor or coach. I get to work with them and I think that is an honor. I do, but today I have 70 items to mark so it feels somewhat burdensome, but overall I think that I am in a great place. I was reminded of this last night when I attended a former student’s wedding. I had met her parents before, but to hear that to this day she still talks about my classes–I was touched. Over the course of my career, I have met many siblings and have taught all the siblings in several families and have had coffees to meet my students’ babies. Like I said, I am lucky and know that some of my students will like me. The tumbler below is from a former student. She has also worked with my kids–it is a small community. I wish her luck with what is next!

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Leaning In

This post first ran on Inside Higher Education as part of the University of Venus blogs. I’m sharing it here on my blog.

I’m going to offer a few reviews of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and this first one is going to be a sweeping overview of the entire book. There are specific chapters that I want to speak to as well, but first I’ll do a review of the book and the Lean In movement. In order to get access to the Lean In circles, er… movement, you have to join the site via Facebook, which is of no surprise given that Sandberg is the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook. I say this in both an honest and tongue in cheek way, as I know that the Facebook metrics are working away analyzing users use of the Facebook platforms and various add ons.

The Lean In site offers anecdotes from different women who are members of Lean In and they each share their stories of times in their life when they leaned in. The members are mostly women and some men from different backgrounds (race, class, and work sector). What they share is an inspiring story about a learning experience or successful moment in their lives—either at work or in their personal lives. The anecdotes are concise. There are also videos that vary in time and some are quite lengthy (40 minutes long). I’ve enjoyed poring through the site and reading and watching the different stories. Some feel like testimonies and are quite personal, whereas others read like a motivational speech.

Getting back to the book, Sandberg is asking that women own their skills and success. Try to sit at the table; overcome the imposter syndrome. But, she also warns that we will have moments when we must work together and help others. This isn’t a book about selfishly helping yourself or being selfless. This book offers her personal story about when she had to lean out and focus on family or other issues in her life, or moments when she leaned in to get to the next stage in her career. She refers to statistics, feminism, and important stories as she shares her truth. She also acknowledges that some women (and men) will stay at home and do the important work of raising children, so she gives a nod to the parents who choose to stay at home and does refer to this opportunity as a privilege. I was glad to see this reference, as it is a privilege to stay home. Of course, some women are indigent and at home, but the opt out conversation is often lacking any discussion of class privilege or mention that women of color have been leaning in for years, if not decades and that their leaning in is complicated by racialized sexism.

On a side note, I’m really tired of the reviews and commentaries that are published by a commentator who has not opened the book. Not cool. And I am not keen with the haterade against the book based on the fact that Sandberg is a wealthy, Jewish woman. The review needs to say more than simply attacking the messenger. The book is not perfect, but Sandberg offers some great points that many of us need to hear again and again. I cannot represent all Latinas and know that I have class and heterosexual privilege, but I will say this: there are many takeaways from this book. It is important to believe in yourself, network, make smart decisions, invest in yourself, and help others. Mentor, coach, sponsor. Get mentored, sponsored, and coached. There is more to this book and so-called movement.

Now, I have heard lots of commentary about how this book does not help all women or is myopic in its view. These comments are interesting to me. No book will speak to everyone. This book and its message, though, might help some women realize that they deserve to be at the damn table. The book and its anecdotes might squelch feelings of impostor syndrome. The videos on the Lean In site might also make some women and men realize that they need to serve as a better mentor or coach to those around them. My suggestion to my current students or students who just graduated–Lean In.

Helpful Info for Women in Political Science

Orgs, Books and More!

CPSA: http://www.cpsa-acsp.ca/ (French: http://www.cpsa-acsp.ca/postings-f.shtml)

Société Québécoise de Science Politique: http://www.sqsp.uqam.ca/

APSA, Women’s Caucus for Political Science: http://www.apsanet.org/content_2907.cfm (Organization webpage: http://www.apsanet.org/)

ISA—Feminist Theory and Gender Studies: http://www.isanet.org/ISA/Sections/FTGS.aspx

WPSA, Caucus for Women and Gender Justice: http://wpsawomen.com/Home_Page.html (Organization webpage: http://wpsa.research.pdx.edu/)

Websites

Eduseed: Promoting Higher Education Among Historically Disadvantaged Communities: http://www.eduseed.org/

Mama Phd (IHE): http://www.mamaphd.com/

Ontario Womens Liberal Commission: http://owlc.liberal.ca/news-2/women-queer-women-politics-involved-earth-problem/

Sister Mentors: Promoting Higher Education Among Women and Girls of Color: http://www.sistermentors.org/home.htm

The Chronicle of Higher Education: http://chronicle.com

Fear of Feminism: http://chronicle.com/article/Fear-of-Feminism/138631/

Gay Mentors in Modern Academe: http://chronicle.com/article/Gay-Mentors-in-Modern-Academe/130883/

Rejection and Its Discontents: http://chronicle.com/article/RejectionIts-Discontents/139403/

Self-Sabotage in the Academic Career: http://chronicle.com/article/Self-Sabotage-in-the-Academic/138875/

The Professor Is In: http://theprofessorisin.com/

The Thesis Whisperer http://thesiswhisperer.com/

Tomorrow’s Professor: http://cgi.stanford.edu/~dept-ctl/cgi-bin/tomprof/postings.php

TP Msg. #1259 Motherhood: How Faculty Manage Work and Family

http://derekbruff.org/blogs/tomprof/2013/05/30/tp-msg-1259-motherhood-how-faculty-manage-work-and-family/

TP Msg. #1250 Let’s Make a Deal—Six Myths About Job and Salary Negotiations

http://derekbruff.org/blogs/tomprof/2013/04/30/tp-msg-1250-lets-make-a-deal-six-myths-about-job-and-salary-negotiations/

TP Msg. #1241 The Chair’s Role in Facilitating a Collegial Department

http://derekbruff.org/blogs/tomprof/2013/03/28/tp-msg-1241-the-chairs-role-in-facilitating-a-collegial-department-2/

University of Venus (Inside Higher Education): http://uvenus.org/

Women in Higher Education: http://www.wihe.com/

Women Suffrage and Beyond: Confronting the Democratic Deficit: http://womensuffrage.org/

WMST-L Archives http://userpages.umbc.edu/~korenman/wmst/wmsttoc.html

Journals of Interests and Journal Articles

Cambridge Journal of Education

Gender and Education

International Feminist Journal of Politics

Journal of Feminist Scholarship

Journal of Women, Politics & Policy

Politics and Gender

The Review of Higher Education

Women’s Studies in Communication

Acker, Sandra, and Grace Feuerverger. “Doing Good and Feeling Bad: the work of womenuniversity teachers.” Cambridge Journal of Education 26, no. 3 (1996): 401-422, doi: 10.1080/0305764960260309.

Bower, Glenna G. “Gender and Mentoring: A Strategy for Women to Obtain Full Professorship.”

Collins, Gail. “‘The Feminine’ Mystique at 50.” New York Times, January 23, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/magazine/the-feminine-mystique-at-50.html?pagewanted=all.

Elley-Brown, Margaret J. “The Significance of Career Narrative in Examining a High-Achieving Woman’s Career.” Australian Journal of Career Development 20, No. 3 (Spring 2011): 18-23, doi: 10.1177/103841621102000304.

Gaze, Beth. “Working Part Time: Reflections on Practicing the Work – Family Juggling Act.” Law and Justice Journal 1, no. 2 (2001): 199-212. http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=755722715628569;res=IELHSS.

Goeke, Jennifer, and Emily J. Klein and Pauline Garcia-Reid and Amanda S. Birnbaum et. al. “Deepening Roots: Building a Task-Centered Peer Mentoring Community.” Feminist Formations 23, no. 1 (2011): 212-234. http://muse.jhu.edu/.

Kreider, Tim. “The ‘Busy’ Trap.” New York Times, June 30, 2012. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-trap/.

Mills, Melanie Bailey. “Intersections between Work and Family: When a Playpen Can be Office Furniture.” Women’s Studies in Communication 31, no. 2 (Summer 2008): 213-217, doi: 10.1080/07491409.2008.10162535.

Samek, Alyssa A. and Theresa A. Donofrio. “‘‘Academic Drag’’ and the Performance of the Critical Personae: An Exchange on Sexuality, Politics, and Identity in the Academy” Women’s Studies in Communication 36, no. 1 (2013): 28-55, doi: 10.1080/07491409.2012.754388.

Books

Armstrong, Sally. Ascent of Women. New York: Random House, 2010.

Baker, Maureen. Academic Careers and the Gender Gap. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2012.

Cote, James E., and Anton L. Allahar. Ivory Tower Blues: A University System in Crisis. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007.

Evans, Elrina, and Caroline Grant, eds. Mama PhD: Women Write about Motherhood and Academic Life. New Brunswick. N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2008.

Jalalzai, Farida. Shattered, Cracked, or Firmly Intact?: Women and the Executive Glass Ceiling Worldwide. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Krull, Catherine and Justyna Sempruch, eds. A Life in Balance? Reopening the Family-Work Debate. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2011.

Newman, Jacquetta, and Linda A. White. Women, Politics, and Public Policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Noddings, Nel. Happiness and Education. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Noddings, Nel. The Maternal Factor. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2010.

Osbord, Tracy L. How Women Represent Women. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Robinson, Ken. How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. New York: Penguin, 2009.

Sandberg, Sheryl. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. New York: Knopf, 2013.

Valian, Virginia. Why So Slow?: The advancement of women. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999.

Twitter Handles to Follow (Working List!)

@AMaioni Antonia Maioni, President of Congress, McGill, Political Science

@ideas_idees Federation

@ATRWibben Annick T.R. Wibben, University of San Francisco, International Studies

@janniaragon, UVIC, Political Science

@partnershipuvic, UVic Corporate Relations

@JLisaYoung, Lisa Young, Dean of Graduate Studies, University of Calgary, Political Science

@OrsiniMichael, Michael Orsini, University of Ottawa, Political Science

@ChristineNLewis, Christine Lewis, Congress Coordinator, UVic

@UA_magazine, University Affairs, Ottawa, ON

@EmmMacfarlane, Dr. Emmett MacFarlane, University of Waterloo, Political Science

@uvicpoli, Uvic, Political Science Dept.

@pmlagasse, Philippe Lagasse, University of Ottawa, Political Science

@thedaleykate, Kate M. Daley, York University, Political Science (PhD Candidate)

@geoffsal, Geoff Salamons, University of Alberta, Political Science (PhD Candidate)

@Mireille2013, Mireille Paquet, University of Montreal, Political Science (PhD Candidate)

@SuleTomkinson, Sule Tomkinson, University of Montreal, Political Science

TED Talks

Huffington, Arianna. “Arianna Huffington: How to succeed? Get more sleep.” Filmed December 2010. TED video, 4:11. Posted January 2011.

Katz, Jackson. “Jackson Katz: Violence against women—it’s a men’s issue.” Filmed November 2012. TED video, 17:41. Posted May 2013.

Koyczan, Shane. “Shane Koyczan: “To This Day” … for the bullied and beautiful.” Filmed February 2013. TED video, 12:04. Posted March 2013. http://www.ted.com/talks/shane_koyczan_to_this_day_for_the_bullied_and_beautiful.html.

Lemmon, Gayle Tzemach. “Gayle Tzemach Lemmon: Women entrepreneurs, example not exception.” Filmed December 2011. TED video, 13:16. Posted January 2012. http://www.ted.com/talks/gayle_tzemach_lemmon_women_entrepreneurs_example_not_exception.html.

Pierson, Rita. “Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion.” Filmed May 2013. TED video, 7:48. Posted May 2013. http://www.ted.com/talks/rita_pierson_every_kid_needs_a_champion.html.

Robinson, Sir Ken. “Ken Robinson: Changing education paradigms.” Filmed October 2010. TED video, 11:41. Posted December 2010. http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms.html.

Sandberg, Sheryl. “Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders.” Filmed December 2010. TED video, 14:58. Posted December 2010. http://www.ted.com/talks/sheryl_sandberg_why_we_have_too_few_women_leaders.html.

Stokes, Colin. “Colin Stokes: How movies teach manhood.” Filmed November 2012. TED video, 12:53. Posted January 2013. http://www.ted.com/talks/colin_stokes_how_movies_teach_manhood.html.

Zimbardo, Philip. “Philip Zimbardo: The demise of guys?” Filmed March 2011. TED video, 4:47. Posted August 2011. http://www.ted.com/talks/zimchallenge.html

Many thanks to Ms. Sylvia Alves for her assistance in curating this array. This is a draft and please share, but note that this is from the two of us!

Faculty In Residence: Part 1

I was contacted this Summer by the Student Residence Program to find out if I wanted to participate in this new program on campus: Faculty In Residence. What this entails as far as I know, is meeting with students who live on campus and discussing different topics. The time commitment is up to me. This project will have students meet professors in a non-classroom environment.

I’ve participated before in talks to students who live in residence, which were more informative talks about research or how to be a good student. This initiative though is meant to get the students to establish a better or perhaps different relationship with faculty. Perhaps–demystify the professor. I don’t know everything about the initiative, but I did agree to it. As I have repeatedly blogged about, mentoring is my mandate and I take mentoring and coaching students and peers seriously. I also have mentors and friends who I go to, so mentoring/coaching never really ends.

And, to the students who suggested me for this program, I thank you.

This short post is one of hopefully several about the Faculty in Residence program.

Looking for Work: There is a Book for That

I stumbled upon a shelf or two at the bookstore filled with career advice books for undergrads and other job seekers. I was quite curious and leafed through some. And, I took photos of a few of them. I’m sure that many of these books dispense good advice for job seekers, and given my penchant to read as much as I can I think it’s good to do your homework. But, there is a part of me that also hopes that students go to the Career Center or whatever name it’s called on campus. Here are some screen shots of some of the books that I leafed through the other day.

I didn’t see anything Earth shattering in the above book–but it does have a snazzy title and will definitely cause some to buy it hoping that the right equation is there for them. I’m not dismissing the book or endorsing it. But, it does catch the eye! I wonder how many copies of this book have sold? You, too can use Social Media to help you get a job. Yes, you can, but just being on social media is not enough. Big smile. Mind your digital footprint. It’s always good to occasionally Google yourself and see what is out there. Clean up your presence if you must. There are reputation management companies to assist you with this, too! Hopefully, most won’t need to resort to the consultant to clean up the digital footprint!

I’ve read the Parachute book and back in the day found it helpful. No wonder it’s been repeatedly published. Many people have no clue what they want to do and books like it are useful to get you thinking about the possibilities and the reality of your own skills and interests. And, nothing beats talking with a career educator, mentor, coach or trusted person in your life. Which brings me to my next thought–I really hope that students scouring the shelves in the university bookstore look to their network as a rich resource, too. Start off with your friends, family, profs, employers, and the career center! Set up coffee meetings and ask that contact to introduce you to a person or two so that you can increase your networks.

Another screen shot of a book and its secrets!

44 Secrets! Now, some of them make me think of Captain Obvious, but I’ve been working since I was 16. I do think that the book has lots of great hints/information for the job seeker. It looks helpful in a cheeky sort of way. I should have taken more photos of the table of contents, as this book really made me laugh out loud.

I liked the section about: You’re Hired, Now What? This is also an important part of the job seeking process. What to do when you get hired. Some of the best advice that I’ve heard about once you’ve been hired is that you act and dress for the job you want. I’ve had other great advice, too. You know–keep your head down and work hard, avoid landmines, make good allies, and don’t piss off the more senior people. This is a quick list of some of the advice and certainly not exhaustive.

I have lots of former students on the job hunt right now and I wish each and every one of them good luck. If any of these books look promising, stop by a bookstore and leaf through it before you buy it. And, remember that we have a great Career Center on campus! Have one of the career educators review your resume and a sample cover letter. The staff or mentors on campus are here to help and you want to represent yourself in the best way that you can. Good luck!

Mentoring and Coaching: Post-Graduation

I’ve blogged lots about mentoring and coaching. I’ve differentiated the ways that some students require more hands on approach–ergo the mentoring, and some require less and I view this as more of the coaching strategy. I decided to do something different and buy some stationery and send some of my mentees (will use just that word) a note. I wrote the notes recently, but will send them prior to the Fall term. Now, I’ve sent emails and messages via other social media platforms, but I’m kicking it old school with the note cards.

Some of them will start or continue graduate school in the Fall, and others will join the working world outside of academe. I bought these note cards at the Papery on Fort St in Victoria, BC and chose something that was not too big, so that the sentiment wasn’t a thesis. My intention was to write something supportive, and dispense some advice. Academics tend to live our lives term by term or maybe even school year by school year. Graduate students get used to this, too. After graduation many of my former students note that they miss college and the schedule. Thus, I felt it was appropriate to send the note card just when a school term starts and the graduate might reminisce about their undergraduate days. (I know that many of them do, as I get the emails or Facebook messages telling me that they miss their university days and their old schedules).

Each note card was personalized to the particular mentee and my wishes for them. I gave them well wishes and felt quite emotional as I wrote the cards. I’ve given cards for graduation during the last several years, but these cards of well-wishes were different. I don’t view them as closure to our relationship, as I see the mentoring or coaching as not having an expiration date. And, to be quite frank a few of these mentees are now actually great friends to me, and my family. Now, for any former students who didn’t get a note and are wondering where is there note card–this was a first time project and I sent out several. I will do this again. I really hope the students who get the note cards appreciate them. I’ve only started this and will see how it works.

Reappointment Process for Tenure-Line Faculty

I’ve been thinking lots about this last school year. It was a really amazing one in terms of my academic career. In the Fall I was unanimously endorsed by my colleagues for reappointment. While I hoped and suspected that my reappointment would be smooth to have it behind me was a big relief. I can only imagine the stress involved with the tenure review. I have now loaned my binders to a friend for her own review.

If you’re up for your first review here are some points of advice. I assume and hope that some of my friends will respond and add in their two cents about the review process.

  • Document all that you do. This is easier said than done. Make sure that your CV follows the department or faculty norm.
  •  Speak to a colleague or mentor familiar with the department or faculty process, so that you have an inside view.
  • Review the Faculty Agreement/Contract or similar document to make sure that you are familiar with all the guidelines.
  • Meet with the department Chair to review the process. Get as much input as you can from the Chair.
  • Make sure that someone else (mentor/friend) reviews your dossiers.
  • I had to put together a Teaching Dossier and Service Dossier. But, most will need a fulsome Research Dossier.
  • I made photocopies of thank you cards and emails from students and included them in the latter part of my Service Dossier. I also contacted some current and former students and asked for some short statements of support. They were (thankfully) willing to do so! I included these in a sub-section entitled, “Solicited letters of support.”
  • I had to include all my course syllabi and Course Experience Surveys. I was also able to include the verbal comments from courses of my choice, but if I included comments I had to include all. I opted to include comments from one 1st year, 3rd year, and 4th year seminar. I teach an array of courses and felt that I needed to demonstrate my effectiveness among all my courses. It’s easy to pick the class with the wholly positive reviews, but you might want to think about the comments that best highlight student learning. (Remember that my position is full-time, tenure-track, and teaching focused). Related to teaching–you might have more senior to you colleagues sit in your class and review your teaching. Review the guidelines, as you should have a choice of who reviews you and when. And, you should have a right of response for the review or be granted another opportunity. I was supposed to have one course reviewed twice. I requested two courses and was glad that I did so. Given that my position is teaching focused, I thought that this would best represent my teaching skills.

I’ve included screen shots of my two sets of Table of Contents. These fit the norm of the department, so verify what is the norm for your department. Overall, I would suggest that you take 2-4 weeks to put together your dossiers. And, during the review process be nice to yourself. Try to not stress about the review and stay focused (word choice) on each step that you have control over–which is little! Good luck!