Monday, April 7, 2008

Great Pre-tenure Advice

I missed March!! I didn’t post anything to my blog in March. Well, technically, I did create a blog post because I set up a blog for my Service Science class where students could blog about an interesting service innovation that uses social computing technology. It was a huge success, each student blogging on something completely different. We all learned something new. So, I didn’t blog here but I blogged elsewhere.

I also missed posting something I really wanted to post about in February. On February 12, I attended an informal presentation by Professor and Vice Provost, Academic, Edith Hillan for women faculty who are pre-tenure which was hosted by her office and the Status of Women Office. It was a wicked cold day and there were fewer people there than expected but Professor Hillan delivered a great presentation, providing key tips for women faculty who are pre-tenure. She gave advice and suggestions based on her own experience and on the fact that she reviews between 100 and 150 tenure files per year. Here is what I took away from this very informative and useful event (the numbering and text are my own based on the notes I took during Dr. Hillan’s presentation):

1. Time and Task Management: she asked us to think about what we are doing to save time and provided suggestions:

a. Arrange your teaching so all classes meet on the same 2-3 days per week. You are only required to teach in 2 academic terms per year so don’t volunteer to teach in your “off” time. Make it very clear to students in your class which times you are available and set clear expectations about when they can expect a response from you (eg, within 48 hours). Don’t put off doing things that look too overwhelming (eg, the exams or papers you have to mark) – get started and make progress.

b. Set limits on the amount of time you spend on each thing. Set boundaries, stick to them, and say, “NO!” if necessary. Closely organize your work week. Work in brief, regular sessions instead of binges.

c. Don’t go for perfection!! This is a tough one for me because I’ve been practising being a perfectionist for over 45 years now!

d. Don’t always answer the phone or emails – let them go to the next day, or set up specific regular time when you deal with email and at other times, don’t. I tried this when I was at IBM for a while and it really does work but it is extremely hard for me to be disciplined about this (I, by habit, check email every few minutes).

e. Do double duty (also known as “leverage”). Find opportunities where your teaching links to research and where engagements with students (both undergrad and grad) link to your research. For example, co-author papers with students, and participate in service that gives you leverage somewhere else.

f. Take your holidays. This is an important one!

2. We talked about classes and teaching and she said that student responses to teaching are important so offered the following advice:

a. Make sure you are well prepared for classes. Provide good course outlines and bibliography. Present what will be covered at the start of the class.

b. Be very clear about what is expected from students (assignments, when they will be due, how they will be marked, how to contact you, etc.). She said the biggest complaint from students is that it wasn’t clear what was expected from them.

c. Leave time each lecture for student interaction and questions.

d. Take the pulse of student opinion mid-term and make adjustments. Show the students are you are interested in what they have to say. Clearly explain to students why they are completing final course evaluations and how it will affect your future.

e. Be open about your course being a “course in development” if it is one. But make sure you are able to teach courses again in the future (prepare once, reuse). Beg for and borrow course syllabi, exams, etc. from those who have taught the courses before.

3. We talked about service to the department through committees:

a. Try not to do too much committee work but you have to balance being a collaborative colleague with being a productive scholar and an effective teacher. Be a good department citizen.

b. Volunteer for the things you want to do then say “No!” to the others. Don’t wait to be invited if there is a committee you want to be on – ask for it.

c. Don’t try to “run the department” until after you have tenure! Similarly, don’t get involved in outside consulting until after tenure

d. She said a good committee to be on is the “PTR” committee (Thanks to Steve, I now know that stands for "Progress Through the Ranks"). The reason this committee was considered a good one was the fact that serving on it would help you understand what is needed to progress.

4. Research:

a. Make statements now to put in your dossier – your “story” – where you came from, where you are now, where you are going to go, research-wise. In your research statements, explain how you are building your program and where you are going next.

b. Publish, publish, publish (I think we all knew that one!)

c. Present at department seminars and organize seminars for your department, bringing in well-known researchers.

d. Manage your professional image. Develop a “marketable” record. View tenure as a political process: meet the candidates, the voters, ensure they know and understand your message.

e. Have regular conversations with your department chair or dean. Set objectives for the year and use these discussions to get feedback on those objectives.

f. Add something to your resume / CV every month (I love this one –it’s great advice).

5. Be assertive. This is an important piece of advice for many women I know. It applies in several of the points above with respect to committees, teaching, etc. In general, ask for things – don’t wait for things to be offered to you.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Hi Kelly,

Great advice.

PTR stands for "Progress Through the Ranks". Every year, we get evaluated and basically ranked. While everyone gets some base raise for cost of living, if you do really well on your PTR review, you can get a bigger raise and "make progress".

I'm not sure I would want to be on the PTR committee though.