Monthly Archives: December 2012

Sync You Later

Winter Break | New Faculty

I live in the clouds. Several of them. Dropbox, iCloud, and Google Drive to name a few. My photos, music, work files, instagram pics, personal files, and everything that exists in my life is in a cloud. I can see it anytime, anywhere, on almost any device that I own/use on a regular basis. They save me time, confusion, and I often find myself telling others they should also use such services. I’ll also take a moment to give a shout-out to Evernote since it also syncs on all of my devices and I keep everything from ‘work to-do’ to ‘groceries’ lists in Evernote. Again, no matter what device I’m on, I can log on and find out if I need eggs….or when the newest RFP is due….

I read an article on syncing your work and personal life and found it to be things I was already doing (which was exciting for me). Being organized and deliberate while trying to sync work and home can be a real challenge.  “As the lines between business and personal lives are shifting, the cloud has emerged as a key tool to keep people productive and organized. The ‘personal cloud’ is evolving to an ‘all-purpose cloud’ that helps us manage our entire lives. “Getting in sync” will soon become an everyday life action and expression, with a technical meaning that everyone understands and automatically uses.”

I am proud to say that I already do sync my life and make a conscious effort to ‘un-sync’ from time-to-time as well. As I get ready to enjoy a little down time, slow down, and travel, I will rely on my clouds to keep me in order. As we panic, grade, and cram the last few weeks of work in for this Fall semester, you may think about a cloud service to help you stay organized for the new year. I use clouds to keep my students organized, the teachers I do professional development with, and all of the faculty that I collaborate with. I even used Dropbox with my mom to edit some photos since she doesn’t have the ‘almight & powerful photoshop’ on her desktop. If you’re in with the cloud, you’ll find they’re very safe, secure, and unbelievably convenient. 🙂 <—my first smile face on the faculty blog…..

What’s your ‘go-to’ app or cloud that helps you be more efficient in your work or SANE in your personal life?

Happy Holidays to each of you and I’ll be back after some much needed break time!

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Stop Being so Nice

Stop Being So Nice | New Faculty

 

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I’ve got a grad student who is a real tool. He’s not mine (thankfully) but someone else’s who I take to collect data. The super glamorous part of my job, NOT. This student has had a problem with me since day one. For reasons that I cannot fathom, he doesn’t seem to like women. No, that’s not an assumption, he’s got the balls, and was so bold to say it out loud. Then, he got pounced on by the other faculty.  Hello 1900, welcome back, I’ll go and bake some cookies…

I did the ‘wrong’ thing first. I tried to be nice to this character. DON’T MAKE THIS MISTAKE!! I didn’t know what his problem was so I tried to talk to him, make conversation, ask about his research. That got me no where. Then, I discovered that he didn’t like me due to the fact that I had ovaries. Now, if you want to hate on me because you don’t agree with my research or opinions, fine, you’ve got your platform, but because I’m a female–suck it kid. Suck it hard.

This fall (I took the summer to reflect and strategize), I quit being so god damned nice to this succubus of human. I greet all of my students, I mildly say hello to him. He needs things from me, I deliver minus the smile and warm pleasantries. He wants curbside service to his car from the van we drive, I dump all of the students closest to the dorms, where MY students typically reside and farthest away from HIS car in the commuter lot. He starts in about how great his program is one week and two weeks later he’s saying he’s going to be here another year because he is two years in with no prelims or data, I smirk from the drivers seat. My favorite interaction with him from this semester:

him: “can you drop me closer to G lot (parking)?”

me: “nope, i’m making one drop tonight, i have another mtg in half an hour & still have to return this vehicle.”

him: “i’m going to be late for a meeting if you don’t.”

me: “well, i guess you’ll just have to move a little faster then, thanks for your patience.”

It’s hard sometimes to be nice. I like students, I like kids, I like teaching, but I really detest assholes. My morning advantage from HBR came through and the short graphs hit a high note with me:

“Being liked is overrated,” writes Jessica Valenti in The Nation. She’s primarily writing about women — for whom likability is negatively correlated with success — but her advice is useful for the yes-men out there, too. Valenti, the founder of the blog Feministing, admits to wasting hours online responding to every commenter, giving equal time and attention to both the thoughtful people and the snarkiest trolls. “It pains me to think of what I could have achieved if I had that time back.”

When we adjust our behavior to be more likable — withholding our most deeply held opinions so as not to offend, agonizing over every bit of negative feedback, eventually “tempering our thoughts” as well as our words — we stunt our selves, our careers, our impact in the world. “The truth is that we don’t need everyone to like us,” she writes, “We need a few people to love us.”

I’ll give Valenti the last word: “Yes, the more successful you are — or the stronger, the more opinionated — the less you will be generally liked. All of a sudden people will think you’re too ‘braggy,’ too loud, too something. But the trade off is undoubtedly worth it. Power and authenticity are worth it.” It’s a piece worth “liking.”

I’ve had to work at being mean in general and I feel bad because my behaviors toward this student make the others suffer. I go out of my way to ask specific students how they are, what’s new with them, and generally work to avoid this student. The other thing that really annoys me, he doesn’t seem to grasp my name. I have a first name. I generally ask people to use it, the WHOLE name. If I wanted someone to shorten it, I would say, “just call me ______.” Generally, I say, “please call me_______ and what name do you like to be referred too?” It’s a pretty standard exchange. This dude, he just doesn’t get it. I’ve had the “please call me ______” talk with him about a half dozen times and out of pure spite, he can’t seem to muster my three syllable name. Not because he doesn’t know, but because he lacks the ability to see beyond his misogynistic ways. The best part is that I’m the phd in the crowd and he’s the one lamenting that his program will take a year longer because he produced so little his first two years as a grad student. Jokes on you dummy (channel Dennis from 30 Rock)!

So, this new faculty is seeking advice. How would you handle the current state of idiocy that is in front of me each week? Thankfully, it’s only one day a week, and each week I practice being as un-nice as possible. The correct people have been notified, the student was warned last year, but he still fails to see the big picture. Thoughts? Suggestions? Coping mechanisms? I’m done for the semester looking at him, but usually just have to smell his heavy cologne when he’s in the building 🙂

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What a Difference a Year Makes

Happy Anniversary | New Faculty

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Happy Anniversary fellow bloggers! It’s my first birthday as a First Year Faculty and as my mother pointed out, it’s about to come to a close. I began my position on Dec. 1st last year and sure enough, time has not only marched, but sprinted through the year. I’d like to tell you that some glorious revelations were had or that I saw the publishing God’s appear before me, but alas, you would probably be disappointed by each of their sightings if you’re a good and skeptical researcher like me. I’d like to take a post to sum up this experience thus far on my quest to become a scholar of scholars…..

I did learn some ‘stuff’ along the way and it’s been pretty freaking fun most days with just enough stress to give me…..my first gray hairs?!?!?!?!?!?! I believe the last hair cut I got was the tipping point. As the nice stylist cut and groomed me so effortlessly, she made a terrible face and announced to everyone in the shop that she’d found a gray one lurking….Don’t get me wrong, I did manage to go over 30 years without a sighting, but it was a bit depressing. I survived. I even found another one and pulled it out for being a jerk and coming in at all. That’ll teach it, won’t it? Damn things…now they’ll just start showing up like stinkbugs and undergrads. No manners.

I gave up my (well most of it) self-hatred and feelings of inadequacy that I’d carried around in grad school. Grad school stinks sometimes. It makes you feel like a complete ding bat and when you finish, sometimes your self-efficacy has taken a nose dive that might be Guiness Book worthy. Most PhD’s will tell you that they finish feeling really weird and a bit out of place about things. I have yet to meet one that says, “OMG, I felt amazing, my life was so amazing, and I just think I should stay in grad school for another decade.” It took me a while, just like any emotionally enduring experience, but I’ve come to terms with it. The professor is in paraphrased it best:

“I had so much uncertainty and self-loathing left over from being a phd student, that it really took me a year or two to snap out of it.” From a client.

Yes, I felt that way. Some days, it sneaks in, but I’m finding my sea-legs and learning to stand my ground or at least remain upright without a meltdown.

I can be a good researcher. I don’t know if I believe in God and I don’t want to discuss it here, it’s just not what this is all about, but I do believe that it all works out, it all happens like it’s supposed too, and when I gave up trying to micro manage it, it started sorting out pretty nicely. Let’s face it, most of us can’t micro manage ourselves to get dressed and out the door in the morning, so why are we losing so much sleep over the things we can’t control? Don’t get me wrong, I prepare, do my work, publish, publish, drink wine, and publish, but after my dissertation was done, I hated it. In fact, I avoided it. Partly because I think I associated it with those feelings of inadequacy so I pretty much shelved it in my hard drive and gave it the peace sign as I did (maybe it was the middle finger). I am still trying to get articles out of it but I’m mostly just pooped from it still. It’s not that it’s not good enough, but it’s what I revolved my life around for so long with no tangible rewards that I kind of wanted to drop kick it. I even put myself in a relationship with it on social media to try and have a little fun with it. Yes folks, it’s that daunting to me. Am I being dramatic? Maybe. But, after a year I know one thing: it taught me to be a better researcher than I was when I walked into my new office cube farm in 2008. For that, I am thankful.

You have to write almost every day. I take the caveat of weekends and family time seriously here. I write every day now. A few sentences, a blog post, pieces to an article, reviews of literature–a few pieces at a time. It doesn’t magically come together in an article at once so why keep pressuring myself to do it all at once?

I collaborate. I don’t know how people can do research by themselves, write it up by themselves, and be publishing machines. I was not built that way. I need to collaborate and most scholarly friends of mine also collaborate. I just can’t do it alone and I know it.

I turn off work and turn on life. Work is great because I choose to approach it with that attitude even when it totally sucks and I’m buried in paperwork and my eyes have crossed twice from the computer time. I’m fortunate to have good and rewarding work, but I have learned through my own prior life experiences, that sometimes you’ve gotta turn off work and give attention to the life in front of you. My ex-husband told me once that I didn’t know how to stop being a ‘teacher’ and just be his ‘wife.’ Today, I will admit he was right. Now, PIC will sometimes say, “there goes the teacher voice” because he so nicely joins me in my work one day a week and gets to see ‘dr./teacher new faculty’ at work. He’s only said it twice and once it was over broken glass, I didn’t want him to step in it with his sock covered feet. The teacher came out but it was out of care. The other time: totally guilty. Whether it’s something super fun or something super mundane, you’ve got to do it. It might be painful, emotional, and downright sucky, but sometimes, you’ve gotta get rid of work distractions. I’ve made a conscious effort to give up pushing emails to my iphone, pick up hobbies, and spend time out with the people I enjoy instead of checking my phone. I have found in the last year that I have perfectly delightful people living with me, in front of me, and around me most of the time. They’re not perfect and neither am I, but we usually find something to have a laugh about. It’s pretty great.

I am, will be, and promise to always remain an introvert. I just can’t help it. I can be extroverted at times, but I’ve claimed my spot as an introvert who displays extrovert tendencies when needed. I just gave up trying to be what I wasn’t. Blame it on research, blame it on the rain, blame the other political party, but I like my introvertedness and am accepting it as it is.

I needed the year to form my own thoughts and opinions on where I’d like to go. I got an offer (besides the one I accepted) during grad school for a position, but you know what–looking back, I was stuck in grad school mentality. I had no idea if I was coming or going. I know why no one hired me, I was a disaster. I may still be a slight academic nightmare, but I have a better handle on what my research agenda might be and I’m going to sell it. Someone will take me up on it, just gotta find the right sucker 😉

Finally, I learned that with all of the fender benders come great rewards. Meeting and forming relationships with other faculty outside of ‘school time’ has been fun, mentoring grad students, undergrads, and forming that collegial mindset have been things that I could not have told you about a year ago. The biggest questions I have now revolve around grant funding most days because it’s so darn complex!

I will leave this post with a great quote from one of my middle school students who I have the pleasure of working with for research:

student: “dr. new faculty, you must be pretty fruity if you’re a dr.”

me: “what kind of fruit?”

*long pause*

student: “a pomegranate b/c they’re really complicated & a watermelon b/c your brain must be really big.”

Here’s to another great year! I’ll just continue on as a new faculty for now, my first year is over and I’ll let you know if it was my worst year next year!

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