Monthly Archives: February 2014

Who’s On Your CORE Team?

Who's on YOUR Core Team? | new faculty

source

Not too long ago, I fell asleep on the couch around 9 p.m. The next night, around 9:30, the following night….well  you get where this is going. Binge watching on Netflix has been replaced by binge sleeping. I apparently couldn’t even muster the energy to put my own dishes in the dishwasher, empty said dishes into garbage, and get the coffee maker ready for the next day.

Houston, I think we’re tired.

It has been a stressful few weeks for reasons related to my professional life and reasons I’m not really interested in discussing on here just yet as they would require actual time to sit/stand and type them out.

Maybe over spring “break.” I use the term loosely as I will likely work most of it but at least I’ll get better parking on campus. Silver linings people.

Anywho….I digress.

As I’ve drifted off to sleep night after night, I would wake the next morning to texts and notifications that people (who are capable of staying awake later) had wanted my attention. Most of these people are what I’d like to call:

Team New Faculty

  • These are my people. They check in (even when I’m asleep (Santa??)).
  • They don’t care that I’m laying in a heap on my couch. They are either jealous of my 40 extra winks or likely doing something similar.
  • They fundamentally understand me. It’s an equal understanding.
  • They know what I need: some face time. I need an hour and then I’m good.
  • They don’t judge. I NEEDED those two cupcakes while we gossiped instead of eating a real lunch. (sugar isn’t lunch?) They will often indulge with me, whether it be cupcakes or wine.
  • They check in on the reg. E’rry day? Nah. Some do and that’s cool. But, they REPLY. No dead air up in here.

They’re available. No point in being on team New Faculty if you’re never going to be available. I don’t need your face in my face, but because I moved 600 miles from my main group of people, the ones that are still on my team still make the time for a regular phone call, group me, sarcastic jokes, or otherwise appropriate communication. The ones that I have now make time and likewise, I make time for them. It’s really hard to have a full blown friendship over text. I just don’t do well.

Play to my strengths. My strengths are as follows:

  • caffeine
  • sugar
  • carbs
  • just kidding…….

I need time–face time, phone time, time. I appreciate and value that in my life. People who are on my team give me time when they can.

It’s a two way street. I give the time, I do the check in’s, I am available too.

Team New Faculty has undergone some radical changes the past year. Good changes. In fact, EFFING AWESOME changes. In my core (much like the new Ben & Jerry’s Core–amazing looking) group, many have cycled out. I’ve learned to accept that some will cycle out. The folks that I appreciated and was so grateful for a year ago today may not be the same ones I’m grateful for now. I will always be grateful for the folks who’ve been on my team all these years. They were there exactly when I didn’t know I needed them. I accept their passing in my life (no one died in that sense) and I hope most of them come back around again. I also hope a few don’t and I can finally admit that.

As you figure out if the academy is or isn’t for you, I implore you to consider the question:

who’s on your CORE team?

You’re going to need a bang up team of real friends in your real life to help you trudge through this mess. Some might be academics as well. Some might not be. What do you require and need from them? How will you know when it’s time to thin the herd and take on some new team members?

As I slog to spring break and continually pass out on my couch from exhaustion with all the lights on and wake to the tv screen saying “are you still watching?” (hell no, i fell asleep during the opening creds) I’m grateful for the people who are Team New Faculty.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , ,

Is There Such a Thing as Work Life Balance Anymore?

Call it quits, go home! | new faculty

source

It’s tough going home. There’s the never ending ‘to-do’ list, the bings and beeps of whatever phone you have attached to you, and the continual demands we place on ourselves. The technology we love, we also loathe because it makes us always aware that there’s someone or something that is pulling our attention.

How do you compartmentalize when you come home?

For me (and likely many of you), easier said than done. I’ve talked to a lot of faculty and people in the human race, and I think it’s something we struggle with, no matter our profession. With or without kids, with or without a partner, with or without pets, and other responsibilities pull our time (in both negative and positive ways) when we walk out of the door in the evening (or whatever wonky work schedule you keep).

Turn off the sounds. Turn off ALL THE NOISES!!!! No more bings and beeps after a certain hour or altogether. I turn off my email notification and have it “push manually” because I know I can’t handle the noise.

No answering. Email, texts, whatever. If it’s not urgent and it’s work related–it can wait until morning. There’s also a growing body of research on not doing email related tasks constantly because it causes burn out. I’d get on board with that research. I quit answering email after about 7 p.m. and NEVER ON THE WEEKENDS….EVER!!!!!! Unless I need to do so for Monday morning, I quit answering email. It was difficult, but I made myself not answer. Sometimes, I fall off my own wagon, but generally, I keep a pretty busy life on the weekends. I read the emails, assess, and usually close them for Monday morning.

Set clear boundaries. With yourself. With your students. With your people. It’s ok to tell your people/students that you don’t answer anything after 9 p.m. It’s ok to tell students it will take you a full 24-36 hours to return emails. It’s ok to tell everyone you ignore them on the weekends.

IT’S OK NOT TO FEEL GUILTY. say it again….breathe….repeat it again….

If you need help, get an accountability buddy. I know it sounds totally ridiculous, but it might help. Someone to celebrate. Someone to remind you of your purpose, someone to take the challenge with you. We all know misery loves company 🙂

Do something in the evenings that is more interesting than your work. Seriously. Many with kids will say that until bedtime, the most interesting thing is the kids (as it should be), while others join clubs, workout, have hobbies, etc… for a few hours a few nights a week. Giving the other half of your brain is also a nice reward for a hard days work.

I told myself that when I finished grad school, I was going to stop working on the weekends. I always felt as though work was looming in grad school and while it’s still there now, I don’t feel like I have to hunker down at ‘ye old mac’ every weekend. In fact, it’s one thing I have done successfully. I fall off the email wagon occasionally, particularly before an event or a deadline shows up but usually have no trouble getting back on. In my own experience, the less work I do on the weekends or evenings, the more productive and refreshed I feel come Monday or the next morning.

The decision to change and acknowledging that you’re in too deep is the first step. In grad school, I took one day per week and didn’t work. I called it “life stuff Sunday.” The day was reserved for life tasks: laundry, yoga (yes it’s a life task in my life), groceries, errands, etc… It didn’t always happen on Sunday’s but for the most part, one day a week was set aside to accomplish things that needed attention. After all, the Target call bot can only call 29847 times before the pharmacist actually calls and asks if you’re ever going to come and get that prescription.

Finally, there’s no change that happens over night (except the weather, those people are wrong 98% of the time). Start small. Say to yourself, I’m not going to answer emails for 24 hours and work up from there. Turn off the noises. You’ll find yourself so much happier. I turn off my ringer for better parts of a day, especially when I’m trying to write. You’ll be surprised by how easy it is to begin to ignore things (and people).

Making yourself too available might make you miserable but it doesn’t have too.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Reality Check: Spring Social Media Clean Up

Spring Social Media Cleaning | New Faculty

source

‘Tis the season! The hiring season is upon us! I see finely dressed students on campus for greek life events, but more importantly:

  • career fairs
  • internships
  • interview season!!!!!

I was eating cupcakes with a faculty friend and we were joking about how ridiculous we probably looked shoving cupcake into our piehole at lightening speed. We decided that perhaps not really a social media moment–a ‘real life’ moment for sure, but nothing that was really worthy of an instagram. We started swapping stories of some of our students (former & current) and their desire to ‘connect’ with us over social media. It turned into a “who’s worse” kind of conversation and we both had some dousy’s to share. I don’t know if a winner was ever declared–(is there ever really a winner in these?)–but we did determine a few things:

  • there really should be an app that screens your pics before posting.
  • most apps should automatically be shut down after 11 p.m. to help this.
  • there should be some sort of ‘screen’ prompt – “are you SURE you want to post this?”
  • when in doubt, just don’t….

As we sprint towards Spring and you may be on the job market, consider your social media presence. Clean it up, take it down, deactivate it. Job prep doesn’t just involve making sure your business suit is clean and your job talk is prepped, it now means making sure our online presence is also tight. If you keep a website, blog, twitter, instagram, facebook, vine, snapchat, linkedin, etc… update them, clean them up, change your preferences for privacy if you’re concerned, make sure that profile picture fairly represents the “you” that you want out there for the public to see.

As a former web designer and IT person, I can tell you this:

  • everything can be hacked
  • no one is 100% “private” anymore

So, do yourself a favor and spend some time cleaning it up this Spring. Like Spring cleaning, it can be fun to go through memories, therapeutic to purge some of the ones we’d like to forget, and can help us get our online presence in check with the presence we want to sell to potential employers. I find myself deactivating a few times a year, making sure my own search engine optimization is in check (what you see when you google yourself) and use services such as brandyourself.com to help me make sure people see what I want them, not the other way around.

You know people don’t usually go beyond page 2 or 3 in a google search, so spend a little time now and clean up your searches.  I know I’ve not always been studious about this and I do let it slip because I get busy with my real life presence and forget about my virtual presence. It’s one of the times I do appreciate an email from whatever service it is to say, “we haven’t seen you in a while, want to update us?” I usually do or at least click on my profile to make sure it still conveys the message I’m trying to send (awesome, hello???) 😉 I know the email reminders can be a bit tedious, but it does remind me to check myself on social media.

We’re not going back to web 1.0 anytime soon, so we might as well participate in our online presence. Take the time now that you’ve invested a few moments in reading this post and tidy up your online feeds. I have never heard anyone say, “i’m so bummed i lost 30 min cleaning up my social media.”

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Accepting Our Limitations

Accepting Our Limitations | New Faculty

source

I was sweating it out at yoga on no particular Sunday and I was concentrating on increasing my flexibility when I turn left. It’s certainly a weak point. I cannot get my elbow around my knee, my balance is at a deficit on that side, and overall, I find myself struggling when I need to turn left. Blame it on the scoliosis or simply that I’m right dominant, so my inclination is to turn right more often and underuse my left side in general.

Whatever the reason, it gave me pause during my practice:

I need to accept this limitation.

The same is true in the academy. There will always be something. It will never be without limitations. Whether it’s our research (hey, there’s a reason there’s a ‘limitations’ section in our papers), red tape from administration, or limitations with our grand ideas for our teaching, limitations are something we have to adapt too.

I have been ‘fighting’ my left vertebrae and muscles for years. I only accepted my reduced range of motion in the last year or two and began to actually work on it. Through intense yoga practice, better home stretching, and that indulgence of a ‘once a month’ massage, I’m not feeling so tight down the left side of my spine. My range of motion isn’t noticeably better to anyone except me, but I may be able to wrap my right elbow over my left knee by the end of the calendar year. I imagine I will feel the same amount of gratification as the day I could do a headstand for longer than 10 seconds without toppling over too.

Academia has forced me to also accept my limitations: not writing enough or going too long in between bouts of writing. I’m lucky. I have lots of opportunities to collaborate and I’ve certainly capitalized on those. While it’s only February, I’ve already sent out two articles and my name on the by-line is moving up from third or fourth (or later) to a solid second on both of these pieces. I want to contribute more to my scholarly writing. I NEED too, but I’m also limited by time, but who isn’t?

By continuing to not only accept my limitations, but work on it actively, just like my yoga practice, my writing practice is and will hopefully continue to strengthen.

Limitations are also prevalent in our research too. In perfect world land, we’d all have unlimited budgets, students who already knew what they were doing, and unlimited time to dedicate to furthering the notion of science. In real world land, rarely do any of those exist. It is important to accept our limitations as researchers, particularly those we cannot always control and be transparent about reporting those in our findings. As a largely qualitative researcher, being transparent comes with the job as each population and participant is different, but it’s important to note those differences, even if a reviewer sends back a scathing report.

Limitations also remind us that we are in fact, human. There are only 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week. and 52 weeks in each year. There’s not enough time for everything. Ever. And we need to accept that. As a young faculty member, we quickly realize that we’re not going to be able to do it all. In fact, we’re barely going to be able to do half on a good day. We need to accept and then forgive ourselves for this instead of constantly beating ourselves up over it, getting in a busy contest with ourselves and with others, and simply step away for the day.

In academia, we need to accept our limitations. In ourselves, we need to do the same. Keep working but also know when to call it a day and go home to the ones we love. Or in my case: lay in a heap on the couch and enjoy life for a few hours with no ‘sounds’ going off on any device 🙂

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Excuse Me, Your Ignorance is Showing

Ignorance in Academia | New Faculty

source

I never fail to be surprised by the things that people and colleagues say to me without thinking. Admittedly, I’m also guilty of living in my own little world, so fear not, I’m not without my own judgement of myself from time to time here. I share the three antecdotes below as a lesson to my peers, my graduate school readers, and my colleagues. Don’t be like these people. 😀 

I deliver lots of professional development (PD) as part of my job. I love it (truth). We bring in folks to help us out, sort out curriculum, and get all the teachers ready to deliver. It’s a fun part of the job (truth). The last set of PD was equally good and I’m excited to implement a new curriculum to the middle school students.

Someone who had come in to help out with the PD had forgot several (and key) things. She looked at me and asked if I knew anyone who could ‘do all this stuff for her in the next hour?’

Uhhh….

My reply was simple, “no, b/c everyone I know is at work.”

I told her I could do it during the lunch break if she could be patient. She could not be patient.

Her reply, “you don’t any friends who don’t work?”

“No.”

“No one who could just run out and do this right now?”

Whelp….NO!

What assumption was she making? Do we all have people who stay home? That’s ok, but guess what? Everyone in my age demographic is working their ASS OFF in this game and I’m really proud to say that! Friends who don’t “work” are running their house holds and asking them to pack up kids for a few items was not the kind of favor I was going to ask.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Fast forward another week. A grad student stopped me in the hall as I was closing my office door on a Friday afternoon. “Hey doc, you heading out for the weekend?”

“No, I have meetings for the next four hours straight dear grad student.”

“You guys (the faculty) are never here, are you working?”

“Yes, we don’t like interruptions….”

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

The same grad student about 3 days later sent me an email requesting a meeting “as soon as possible.”

My reply, “I’m free on Monday at 7 p.m.”

“7 p.m. is too late in the day for me.”

“7 p.m. is my earliest appointment as I finish my other commitments around 6:30, it’s the best I can do.”

“Ok, i guess so…..”

In academia and in life, we often draw a mass set of assumptions about people, circumstances, and life. Even if that’s not our ‘reality’ at this moment-it’s important to take it into account, even if it’s not YOUR experience at this moment. I’m not upset that my colleague assumed I knew people who were at home eating bon bon’s, waiting for me to call them, I grew irritated because she kept pushing the issue and started to behave poorly when she wasn’t going to get what she wanted immediately after realizing her mistake. I grew impatient with the grad student who thought that the faculty aren’t working if we’re not sitting in our offices and that my schedule was so massively inconvenient for him.

A little tolerance anyone?

Tagged , , , , , , , ,