Sunday, May 17, 2015

"Shut Up & Write" (Monday Motivator for Faculty for the Future, May 18, 2015 )

This is an excerpt from the Monday Motivator Program of Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. Please find the original document here. The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity is an independent professional development, training, and mentoring community of over 71,000 graduate students, post-docs, and faculty members.

Last week I received lots of mail about ending post-summer regret. Many of you were able to make a summer plan without difficulty, but it was the development of a support system that left you confused. All the queries seemed to all boil down to three questions: 1) What types of writing groups exist? 2) How do I figure out which type of writing group is right for me? And 3) If I were just more motivated and disciplined then I wouldn’t need a group, so how can I change myself? Because having a support system is critical to actually executing your summer plan, I want to dedicate this week’s Monday Motivator to the many different kinds of writing groups and what makes them either flounder or flourish as support systems.

Faculty development researchers have demonstrated that accountability and support increase writing productivity among new faculty members. And yet, when graduate students, post-docs and new faculty talk about needing support that goes beyond substantive feedback, they’re often met with some form of shaming: "Why do you need a support group?" "Can’t you just motivate yourself to write?" "This is your job dear, so if you don’t want to write there’s plenty of unemployed people who would love to be in your position." In short, many are advised to "shut up and write". And because shaming moves people into action, that may actually work for a week or two. But true needs have a way of resurfacing. So instead of taking the tough-guy, ignore-your-needs, shut-up-and-write approach, I want to suggest the opposite. In other words, I believe that embracing your needs will help you to develop a support system that will move you from the occasional shame-induced writing binges towards a healthy, consistent, and sustainable daily writing routine.

While it should go without saying, it’s OK to have needs. In fact, if you wait until you are perfectly motivated, flawlessly self-disciplined, free from anxiety, utterly fearless, intellectually energized, and emotionally resolved before you start writing this summer, you may never begin! Instead, I want to encourage you to release yourself from the idea that having needs means there’s something wrong with you. It’s OK if you need support and accountability. It’s OK if you’re not productive in isolation. It’s OK if you need community, feedback, a safe space to take risks, and a group of people who genuinely celebrate your accomplishments. It’s OK because meeting your needs for community, support and accountability will not only increase your productivity, but also your enjoyment of summer writing.

What do YOU need?
If you can accept the fact that you don’t have to change who you are in order to be productive, then I want you to dig just a little deeper by asking yourself: What do I need to maximize my writing this summer? Academic writers have lots of different needs. For example, some people need to physically share space with others while writing, some need a stern authority figure to answer to, some need solitude and the kind of support that is silent, some need a quantitative accounting of their progress, some need to be in groups with similar others, some need to be regularly inspired, some need ongoing substantive feedback by those in their specialty field, some need regular cheerleading, some need therapy, and some need an occasional exorcism (from the demons of bad academic socialization). It’s even OK if you need all of these things at different times! The important thing is to identify what you need without judgment, shame, or self-flagellation. Knowing what you truly need to maximize your productivity is what will allow you to construct a writing support system that is effective for YOU.

Connect with a writing group that meets your needs.
Once you have identified your basic needs, start to imagine the best way to get them met. I’m going to describe a few different types of writing groups for the dual purpose of expanding your sense of what a "writing group” looks like and illustrating the importance of letting your needs guide your selection of an appropriate group. It’s really quite simple: Writing groups flourish when everyone’s needs are getting met and flounder when they don’t meet the primary needs of members.

Traditional Writing Groups
When we use the term "writing group," the most common form that comes to mind is a small number of people who commit to a specific period of time (e.g., a summer) to meet face-to-face, once-a-month, for the purpose of reading, critiquing, and providing substantive feedback on each other’s written work. This requires a commitment of 5-8 hours per month to read other people’s work, draft comments, show up and engage during the meeting time. Such groups tends to work well if participant’s primary need is substantive feedback and if members are able to provide that for one another. This structure is less effective when participants have other more pressing needs (support or ongoing accountability) and/or the feedback is the sort that could be obtained more efficiently from a professional editor.

Writing Accountability Groups
If your primary need is to have a committed group of people to answer to each week, then writing accountability groups may be worth trying. The structure is fairly simple: four people agree to meet once a week during the summer (either face-to-face or by conference call, Skype, or Google Hangout). The groups meet for exactly one hour per week and each person gets 15 minutes to discuss the following items: 1) my writing goals for last week were _______, 2) I did/did not meet them, 3) if I didn't meet them, it’s because of _______ and 4) my writing goals for next week are _______. Developing a daily writing routine tends to bring up all people's stuff and the group helps to support one another by identifying the limiting beliefs and behaviors that hold members back from productivity. Nobody reads anyone else's writing in this type of group. Instead the focus is on the writing process and moving projects forward so they can get into the hands of people with subject matter expertise (not group members). This structure works well when the primary needs of participants are accountability, support, community, and peer mentoring. It is ineffective when individuals cannot sustain the weekly commitment to the group or daily writing, and/or their primary need is for ongoing substantive feedback.

If you’re someone who needs to be around others when you’re writing and/or feels isolated, a Write-On-Site group may work well for you. It’s also very straightforward: an organizer selects a time and place for meeting and disseminates that information to a group of interested others. At the appointed time, people descend on the designated space and everyone writes. Every thing else is optional: there can be a weekly attendance commitment (or not), the group can range from two people (writing buddies) to as many people as the space will hold, and it can occur in a public or private space. There's no reading each other's work, there's no discussion during the writing time, it’s just about getting into the same physical space and actually engaging in the act of writing. The collective writing energy of the group is energizing and people are free to come early and stay late for socializing. Like every structure I’m describing, this works well when participants are getting their needs met (everyone comes to write). It doesn’t work well when people arrive and their primary needs are support, substantive feedback, or processing why they are stuck.

Online Writing Groups
There are a variety of online writing groups that are designed to provide support, accountability, and tracking progress over time. Some are free and some cost money, but essentially the structure is the same. Participants commit to a period of daily writing, check in each day at the end of their writing time, track their daily progress over time, and engage in discussion about writing with other participants. If you subscribe to a fee-based service, your progress will be automatically transformed into beautiful charts and tables. This support system works well for people who need daily support and encouragement, feel isolated in some way, and/or for whom electronic relationships are genuinely satisfying and significant enough to elicit the feeling of accountability. This support structure is less suitable for people who need face-to-face contact and interaction in order to feel a tangible sense of accountability and community.

Coaches and Nags
It may be the case that you have a variety of needs but your schedule disallows you from committing to any kind of group for the summer. Or alternatively, you have no idea what you need and you would like to work with a professional to figure it out. There are a variety of writing coaches out there who will consult with you weekly (for fees ranging from $75-$150 per hour) to increase your awareness of what’s holding you back and help you to develop and implement strategies to move you forward. I have also worked with "professional nags" who will call you each day at the beginning of your writing time, make you state clearly and succinctly what you will do that day, and connect with you at the end of your time to hear whether you completed your work or not. Nagging is great for people who have trouble getting started with their writing each day, but are fine once they get into the flow. Coaches and nags work well for people who either aren’t clear what their needs are or need more personalized and intense accountability than a group can provide. Of course, this doesn’t work for people for whom the mere idea of being nagged feels oppressive.

Some people have tried various groups but keep running into the same problems: they struggle to find others who will stick to their commitments and/or they don't know what do when they face their own resistance day after day. The advantage of bootcamps is that they provide a professionally facilitated group, intense structure, and are filled with people who have made a commitment by investment. That's a nice way of saying that in groups where everyone has paid to participate, commitment to the group tends to be very high! This high level of commitment, structure, and accountability combined with the attention of dedicated mentor-coaches tend to result in tremendous transformations in productivity. That said, boot-camps are not for everyone because they require a willingness to experiment with new writing behaviors, continually question your beliefs about writing, and force you to explore the fears and anxiety that underlie your resistance to writing.

I currently use all of these mechanisms at once! I have a coach, participate in an online group each day, have a weekly accountability group meeting, attend Write-on-Site as needed, and I run a Bootcamp. I know that if left to my own devices, I will not write. I’ll be very productive in every other imaginable way, but I won’t write. Over the years I have come to accept the fact that I need community, support and accountability and instead of judging myself negatively for having those needs, I embrace them, create mechanisms to meet them, and find that participating in these types of supportive systems brings me increased productivity and tremendous joy. You may have different (and fewer) needs than I do, but the key to having a productive, fulfilling, and enjoyable summer is to ask yourself: What do I need and what kind of writing group will best support my needs?

The Weekly Challenge

This week, I challenge you to:
  • Ask yourself: What do I you need to support my writing this summer?
  • If you’re reactive to the idea of having needs, or to answering this simple question, gently ask yourself: Why?
  • Consider what it would mean to accept your needs as part of who you are (as opposed to trying to deny or judge them).
  • Imagine a support structure that would meet your needs and support your writing.
  • If it already exists, join it. If it doesn’t create it.
I hope this week brings you the clarity to identify your needs, the freedom to embrace them, and the creativity to connect with mechanisms of support that will allow you to maximize your productivity this summer and develop a sustainable daily writing routine.

The Biggest Mistakes New Faculty Make (Monday Motivator for Faculty for the Future, May 4, 2015)

As the NCFDD transitions into our Summer Session, many of our members have asked for a simple recap of the this term's Monday Motivator series. Since January, we've been working on the theme "The Biggest Mistakes New Faculty Members Make".

Just in case you missed any of the Spring Session Monday Motivators, here's a complete list with links to each one!

Mistake #1 Your Semester Has No Plan
Mistake #2 Your Time Isn't Aligned With Your Evaluation Criteria
Mistake #3 You Believe Balance is a Myth
Mistake #4 You're Investing in Long-Term Institutional Change at the Expense of Your Research Agenda
Mistake #5 You're Reactive Instead of Proactive in Your Professional Relationships
Mistake #6 You've Put All of Your Eggs in One Institutional Basket
Mistake #7 You Don't Know How You Spend Your Time
Mistake #8 You Haven't Set Up Any Feedback Loops
Mistake #9 You're Over-functioning on Teaching While Under-functioning on Your Research
Mistake #10 You're Ignoring Your Body
Mistake #11 You Internalize Rejection and Negativity
Mistake #12 You're Trying to Do Everything Yourself
Mistake #13 You Avoid Conflict
Mistake #14 You're Looking for A Guru-Mentor
Mistake #15 You Don't Have Strategies to Relieve Stress

The Weekly Challenge:
  • This week I want to challenge you to:
  • Read through the list of common mistakes
  • If any of them resonate with you, try re-reading that Monday Motivator and implementing one of the suggested strategies this week
  • If you don't have time to re-read, just make sure you're writing every day for at least 30 minutes.
  • If many of the mistakes resonate with you, consider enrolling in our 12-week Faculty Success Program. Our summer bootcamp is a great way to establish positive work habits and increase your productivity this summer.

You may agree or disagree with our list of common mistakes, but I hope seeing it all in one place is helpful to you as a way of assessing what you did (and did not) accomplish this Spring and making some important adjustments as you move into the summer months.

Let's Get Ready for Summer Writing (Monday Motivator for Faculty for the Future, May 11, 2015)

This is an excerpt from the Monday Motivator Program of Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. Please find the original document here. The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity is an independent professional development, training, and mentoring community of over 71,000 graduate students, post-docs, and faculty members.

For those of you on the semester calendar: happyy 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 term, I kept hearing from beleaguered faculty, post-docs, 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 session, 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 the summer session, they also 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 every block of time (quarter/semester/summer/sabbatical) should start with a plan, so for this week I want to encourage you to set aside 60 minutes, grab your calendar and a piece of paper, and develop a clear and concrete plan for the summer.

How to Create a Summer Plan
If you have a plan for your writing and personal goals this summer, you automatically lower the possibility of experiencing end-of-summer regret because you will have proactively and consciously chosen activities that lead to specific endpoints. A summer plan allows you to define your goals, identify the activities that will help you achieve them, and provide you with the confidence that when August rolls around, you will have accomplished all the things that are important to you and your future success.

Step #1: Start with your goals
Start by writing down all of your personal and professional goals for the summer. I make sure all of my goals are SMART goals. In other words, I try to state my goals inSpecific Measurable, Attractive, Realistic and Time framed statements. So, instead of listing "make progress on my book" and "learn how to cook" as goals, I write "complete the first ugly draft of chapter 2 by July 1st" and "take one cooking class each month." Listing your goals is the fun part, so enjoy it.

Step #2: Outline the tasks that are required to achieve your goals
For each of your end-of-summer writing goals, determine all the tasks necessary to achieve the goal. For example, if one of your goals is to submit that R & R that's been sitting on your desk all year, then ask yourself: What specific tasks do I need to complete in order to revise and resubmit my manuscript? Your list could look something like the following:
  • Read the editor's and reviewer's comments.
  • Cry a little.
  • Create a list of necessary revisions.
  • Read for revision.
  • Re-analyze data.
  • Revise the writing and update tables.
  • Submit to a professional editor.
  • Draft a cover letter explaining how you addressed the reviewers comments.
  • Mail/upload the revised manuscript to the journal.
  • Celebrate the submission.

Each of your goals will require specific tasks in order to be accomplished by August. If you’re a visual person (as opposed to a list-maker), than try mapping out a flow chart of each of your goals. Some will be simple and others will be complex, but the main point is that if all you're doing is setting goals without identifying all the small steps that are necessary to achieve them, you are unlikely to finish the summer with much progress or productivity.

Step #3: Map your tasks onto time
Here's where it always gets ugly. Take a long hard look at your calendar and make sure you have blocked out all of your summer commitments (vacation, moving, conference travel, childcare, summer teaching, etc...). What is left is the time you realistically have to complete all the tasks necessary to accomplish your goals. Use your best estimate as to how long each task will take and find specific weeks in your calendar when this work will get done. I estimate the tasks associated with the R&R example would take me four weeks. So I have to find FOUR WEEKS in my calendar to complete all the tasks in order to meet my goal.

I believe that this is where things get ugly because inevitably, you will have more tasks than will fit into 12 weeks. In fact, your summer break may suddenly seem shockingly short! Don't worry, this happens to everyone, and the point of this exercise is to force this realization in May (as opposed to August) because now you can proactively make decisions about the work that doesn’t fit into your calendar by scaling back your goals, re-negotiating deadlines, requesting additional support, prioritizing, delegating, and/or letting some things go. Whatever you decide, you will feel far more empowered making your decisions in advance then simply hoping you'll meet all of your goals and then ending another summer disappointed and frustrated over all the work that didn't get done.

Step #4: Execute the plan on a daily basis
Once you have a plan for your summer activity, it's up to you to actually do it! I sit down at the beginning of each week to review what writing tasks I have planned for that week and figure out what specific day and time I will complete them (aka The Sunday Meeting). We are all motivated by different things, so try to figure out what motivates YOU and build it into your daily life. Personally, I am motivated by treats, so when I finish my writing each day, I get a treat. My treats don’t have to be expensive or extravagant, they’re just a little dose of personal pleasure for a job well done.

Step #5: Create support and accountability
Summer is a time when you will need extra support and accountability because the structured activities of the semester (events, classes, and meetings) cease. This is an ideal time to start a writing accountability group, create a write-on-site group, join the monthly writing challenges on the NCFDD Discussion Forums, set up a google group with friends, or join the next session of our Faculty Success Program. Whatever you do, don't try to go it alone! There are many wonderful communities of support that already exist and you have the power to create them in your own local environment.

As always, adapt these steps to fit your life circumstances and personal needs. And once you have a plan, I encourage you to share it with your mentors to get their suggestions, feedback, and ideas. This way, no matter how your academic year ended, you (and your departmental mentors) will know that this summer, you are a scholar with a clear plan!

The Weekly Challenge

This week, I challenge you to:
  • Take 60 minutes to sit down and construct a plan that provides all the rest, fun, support, and community you need to be productive this summer.
  • If you want to work with me in creating your summer plan, register for our May core curriculum webinar: Every Summer Needs A Plan.
  • Find or create a community of support that will keep you motivated throughout the summer months.
  • Share your summer plan with at least one of your mentors for advice and feedback.
  • And if you want to participate in our Summer bootcamp but missed the deadline, go ahead and add your name to our waiting list.

I hope that going through the process of making a summer plan will help you to identify your priorities, clarify how all of your personal and professional needs can get met, and energize you for the summer months.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Evolution of Music - Bollywood and Hollywood

Heres couple of most popular evolution of music videos in the Youtube.
Evolution of Bollywood Music - Penn Masala, and
Mime Through Time by SketchSHE. 

Enjoy, and comment if you know any other relevant ones..............

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Transitioning To The Summer (Monday Motivator for Faculty for the Future, April 27 2015)

This is an excerpt from the Monday Motivator Program of Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. Please find the original document here. The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity is an independent professional development, training, and mentoring community of over 71,000 graduate students, post-docs, and faculty members.

I don't know about you but I love the last few weeks of the semester! I love imagining all the possibilities of the summer and celebrating all of the achievements of the academic year! I’ve been to thirteen campuses this semester and I'm spending my last week of the term giving a workshop at the University of California, Riverside. It’s been a whirlwind of a semester, but I've greatly enjoyed connecting face-to-face with so many of you and celebrating all of your success!

I also encourage you to take a deep breath as we head towards the end the academic year (even if you're on the quarter system and the summer is a little further away). As we transition into the summer term, it's a great time to reflect on your support systems. Your NCFDD Membership offers lots of great resources that you may not have been able to take advantage of during the academic year. This summer you may want to explore and experiment with some of our resources. This is a great week to ask yourself:
Do I know how my NCFDD membership works?
Am I maximizing my membership?
Am I getting what I need or do I need to go deeper into the available resources?

Our annual membership is designed to operate as a year-long virtual mentorship program. That means we have set up the resources to move you through a 12-month process intended to increase your writing productivity and work-life balance. Each of the following resources are available to you, at your convenience:

MONTHLY WEBINARS: Every month we offer a core curriculum webinar AND guest expert webinar. To attend the webinars live, just register online and we will send you the link, a call-in number and PIN. If you want to experience the webinars on your own schedule, they are available online to view at your convenience. You can access the audio and video files, slides and transcripts from one central location: click here.

THE BUDDY SYSTEM: During each of our monthly training calls, we match up accountability buddies. This is designed to support your implementation of whatever strategy we have just taught in the webinar, provide you with a peer-mentor, and to expand your network. If you want a buddy at any time, all you need to do is email and put "I want a buddy" in the subject line. We match people as the requests roll in...

DISCUSSION FORUM: The NCFDD discussion forums are a private place where our members connect, share information, peer-mentor, problem-solve, and celebrate each others successes. In other words, it's the "safe space" for our online community engagement that is available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

RESOURCES AND REFERRALS: Summer is a great time to do some reading to enhance your professional development and/or try out a new support resource (professional editor, developmental editor, writing retreats, dissertation coaches, etc...). Our resources and referrals page contains all our favorite books, articles, and preferred vendors listed in one convenient place for you.

The Weekly Challenge
This week, I challenge you to:
Write at least 30 minutes each day.
Take a moment to ask yourself: how does my NCFDD membership work? Am I maximizing my investment? Should I try experimenting with a resource I haven't tried before?
If you've missed any of our webinars and they sound interesting to you, head over to our webinar page to download whatever topic will enhance your productivity!
If you want a buddy for the month of May, email
If you want to work with me to draft your Summer Plan, register for our May core curriculum webinar: Every Summer Needs A Plan.
If you want this to be your most productive summer ever, consider joining us for our Faculty Success Program Summer Bootcamp (the early bird deadline ends May 1st).

If you're already maximizing the NCFDD membership resources and benefiting from them, why not forward this message to a friend and encourage them to become an Individual Member this summer or to the appropriate administrator at your university to establish an Institutional Membership. We love your referrals!

I hope this week brings each of you an opportunity to take a deep breath as we transition into the summer to make sure you have all the support and resources you need.

It's Crunch Time (Monday Motivator for Faculty for the Future, April 20, 2015 )

This is an excerpt from the Monday Motivator Program of Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. Please find the original document here. The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity is an independent professional development, training, and mentoring community of over 71,000 graduate students, post-docs, and faculty members.

The end of the semester must be near because nearly all the new faculty members I met last week were holding their breath, trying to keep their heads above water, and praying for the end of the term! The feelings of exhaustion and frustration I heard repeatedly were both intense and predictable. For those of you on the semester-calendar, let's focus on some concrete ways to deal with Common New Faculty Mistake #15: Failing to Recognize and Adjust to the Rhythms of the Semester.

Each semester has a natural energetic rhythm. We share our students' high energy at the beginning, it flattens out during the middle (as reality sinks in), and the end of the term finds most of us dragging from some combination of disappointment, frustration, exhaustion, and/or departmental drama. While most new faculty members feel tired, cranky, and completely out of gas the last two weeks of every term, the end of the spring semester is particularly difficult because it's also the end of the academic year. So if you find yourself feeling bone weary, that’s perfectly normal! This week, I encourage you to recognize the current intensity you’re experiencing for what it is: a predictable rhythm of the semester. Knowing this is a recurring pattern should enable you to be gentle with yourself and make behavioral adjustments that will allow you to not only survive, but thrive during the end-of-semester crunch time.

10 Tips for Thriving During Crunch Time
I believe that stressful times call for unique coping strategies. The following tips are the collected wisdom from my own mentors about how they maintain sanity during the end-of-term crunch time. The underlying theme is that when you’re pressed for time, you must be proactive, strategic, and clear about how you spend each moment. Too often, when things get hectic we sacrifice our own needs so that everyone else’s can get met. Instead, each suggestion is aimed at minimizing the things that don’t matter so that you can move through the busiest time of the year without surrendering the things that do matter (your health or productivity).

Tip #1: Clearly communicate to others that it is crunch time
Let those who live with you and/or are impacted by your behavior know that the next week (or two) will be difficult, assure them that it's a finite period of time, and let them know you appreciate their support and understanding. I find that people are willing to assist me when I communicate my needs ahead of time.

Tip #2: Lower your standards in non-essential areas of life
I'm what's known as a neat freak. During crunch time, I give myself permission to be a slob. It's OK because it's only one week. I love to eat out, but during crunch time, I'm OK with peanut butter and pickle sandwiches because I don't have time for anything else. And that's OK because it's only one week. Typically, I sleep nine hours per night. During crunch time, I sleep nine hours per night. And that’s because sleep is not negotiable for me! The point is to ask yourself: what can I let slide a bit for the next week (or two) without negative consequences?

Tip #3: Ruthlessly assess what grading ACTUALLY needs to get done
Many students do not read comments that are given on final papers and projects. Upon the suggestion of one of my mentors, I developed the habit of asking my students ahead of time to indicate if they want me to write comments on their final papers. Fewer than 10 percent requested the comments and I saved hours of grading that would never have been read while concentrating my comment-writing on the students who genuinely want feedback.

Tip #4: Say NO to EVERY SERVICE REQUEST from now until the end of the semester
If you are struggling to find time to complete all of the things on your to-do list, it makes no sense to add more items. In other words, when your time is scarce, one of the worst things you can do is to take on any additional responsibilities. Say "no" often, clearly, and without guilt.

Tip #5: Every day needs a plan
Take 30 minutes on Sunday night to get your to-do list out of your head and onto a piece of paper. Then force yourself to place each of your tasks onto a specific time in your calendar. If you don't have enough time for the tasks, then delegate them, re-negotiate the deadline, or let them go. This Sunday Meeting will clarify your week and force you to make the tough decisions in advance. Then each morning, you only need to spend two minutes reviewing the items you must complete for that day. This will keep you focused and confident that the truly important things will get done.

Tip #6: Write for at least 30 minutes each day
When new faculty feel crunched for time, one of the first things they are ready to sacrifice is their daily writing! This semester, put yourself, your future, and your daily writing time into the non-negotiable category (along with classes and meetings). There are MANY other ways to be efficient besides eliminating the one activity that is central to your promotion, tenure, and long-term professional success.

Tip #7: Only check e-mail one time per day (max)
E-mail begets more e-mail. When you have little time, the least effective way to spend it is writing e-mails. I'm only able to restrict my e-mail to once a day during crunch times. But for one week, it's unlikely to cause a crisis and typically works out just fine.

Tip #8: Eliminate Unnecessary Electronic Distractions
If you subscribe to any listservs, sign off until the semester is over. Many people sign off during the summer, so why not just do so now? Listservs create lots of e-mail in your in-box, very little of which is critical information that you can't do without between now and graduation. While you’re at it, why not take a respite from all electronic time-wasters: Facebook, Twitter, television, etc.

Tip #9: Take Care of Your Body
Exercise reduces stress. When I don't have time to go to the gym, I opt for using the stairs instead of elevators in buildings, take quick walks at lunch time, or just put on some music for five minutes and dance like a toddler who just found a cup of coffee. Be creative! Whatever you need to do to get your heart rate up and your body moving will benefit you during crunch time.

Tip #10: End Every Day With Gratitude and a Treat!
As each day comes to a close, take a moment to thank the universe for all the things that went well and affirm that everything in your life is working for your highest good. I insist on a treat every day during crunch time, because I deserve it. So do you!

The Weekly Challenge
This week, I challenge you to:
Acknowledge that the end of every semester is a stressful time and THAT IS PERFECTLY NORMAL!
Use the tips outlined above to proactively create strategies to manage your stress, frustration, and energy levels.
Write every day this week for at least 30 minutes.

This week, I hope that each of you find the strength to try some new end-of-semester strategies, the creativity to adapt them to your unique situation, and the comfort of knowing that you are not alone in your struggle.

There Is No Guru (Monday Motivator for Faculty for the Future, April 13, 2015 )

This is an excerpt from the Monday Motivator Program of Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. Please find the original document here. The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity is an independent professional development, training, and mentoring community of over 71,000 graduate students, post-docs, and faculty members.

We've all heard repeatedly how important "mentoring" is to our professional success. But if you scratch the surface and ask people what exactly they mean by "mentoring," you will find a wide range of responses. Too many new faculty members I know imagine that they will have a single guru-like "mentor" who will sense their needs, generously dispense wisdom, care deeply about their success, and gently guide them along the path to tenure and promotion. Since that rarely happens, I want to focus this week on Mistake #13: Looking For A Single Guru-Mentor.

The problem with the idea that you will find one guru-mentor is that new faculty members have a wide variety of needs and it is not only impossible but problematic for all of those needs to be met by one (and only one) person. For example, if you are a typical new faculty member, you have some combination of the following needs:

Professional Development: Help in learning how to manage time, resolve conflicts, administer projects, organize your office/lab, teach efficiently and well, supervise graduate students, and make strategic decisions about service commitments.

Emotional Support: As a new faculty member, you are in the midst of a significant identity and role transition: from graduate student (or postdoc) to professor. As a result, you may need support in dealing with the common stress and pressures of transitioning to life on the tenure track.

A Sense of Community: Given that most new tenure-track faculty have uprooted their lives to move to a new area, you may find yourself seeking both an intellectual and/or social community where you feel a true sense of belonging.

Accountability: The structure of your job likely provides the least accountability for the activity that is most valued (research, writing and publication). In order to avoid getting caught up in the daily chaos, the vast majority of new faculty members need some form of accountability system for writing.

Institutional Sponsorship: You also need to cultivate relationships with people who are invested in your success at your institution. By that, I mean senior faculty who are willing to use their power to advocate for your best interests behind closed doors.

Access to Networks: Because knowledge isn't produced in isolation, it's critical for you to connect with others to discuss potential research collaborations, navigate external funding, and access opportunity structures that might not be immediately apparent to you as a new faculty member.

Project-specific Feedback: You will also need to regularly communicate with people who can provide substantive comments on your proposals, manuscript drafts, and new ideas.

I'm listing these common needs to illustrate the point that no one person could (or should) fulfill all of them in your life! Expecting a single mentor to transition you from graduate student to faculty member will inevitably lead to disappointment, over-dependence on the advice of one person, and feelings of loneliness. For example, I recently spoke with a tenure-track faculty member who had relied exclusively on her departmentally-assigned guru-mentor to guide her through the transition from graduate student to professor. The guru advised her when she arrived to "hold off working on your book for a few years so you can mature intellectually." In response to this very bad advice, she spent her first few years "intellectually maturing" instead of writing and then was shocked to receive a negative third year review that focused almost entirely on her lack of published work and minimal progress on her book. The point is that gurus are human, they make mistakes, and relying on one exclusively can put you at unnecessary risk and leave you with many unmet needs.

This week, I want to encourage you to fundamentally rethink the idea of "mentoring" by instead asking yourself: What do I need and what is the most strategic and efficient way to get it?Then, instead of looking for one all-knowing guru-mentor, you will start to realize that there are many different ways to get information, support, feedback and advice. We can meet our professional development, emotional support, community, and accountability needs by connecting with professionals, peers, friends, books, and online communities. For example, it's probably more effective to hire a professional editor than to expect your departmental mentor to copy edit your work. It's probably more satisfying to meet with friends for emotional support than to expect it from your department chair. And, it's far more meaningful to join a writing group for accountability than asking your mentor to call you every week and make sure you're making progress on your writing. Let me be perfectly clear, there are some needs (e.g., sponsorship, access to opportunities, project-specific feedback) that only senior people in your field and/or department can meet. The trick is to know the difference so that you focus the limited time you have with senior mentors on the things only they can provide for you, while finding alternative ways to meet your other needs.

If There's No Guru, Then What's A New Faculty Member To Do?
Instead of focusing on any one particular person, I’m suggesting that you imagine an extensive web of support that you create by identifying your needs and proactively getting them met. If I could construct an ideal mentoring network to support new faculty members, it would include all of the following:
A broad array of mentors and sponsors that are located within and beyond your current institution.
An excellent coach (or therapist) to help you transition through your first year.
A local and extended network of friends who you can rely on for social support and stress relief.
A group of scholars in your field with whom you can share drafts and ideas.
A supportive community that meets your unique accountability needs and celebrates your successes
On- and off-campus professional development activities.
A professional development fund that you can access to get whatever needs you have met in the most effective and efficient way.

In a perfect world, your department would be organized in such a way as to welcome and support you during your transition from graduate student to professor. In reality, it will most likely be your responsibility to identify your needs and find ways to meet them. Along with that responsibility comes the realization that you have tremendous power (even if it doesn't always feel like it). In other words, you don't have to be dependent on a single guru-mentor because YOU have the power to create a network of support that is populated by people who are invested in your success. This collective will enable you to feel supported before, during, and after problems arise in your department. It will provide you with opportunities, connections, and reference groups that extend far beyond your college or university. And most importantly, it will serve as a buffer to decrease any alienation, loneliness, and stress that you may feel at your current institution.

The Weekly Challenge
This week I challenge each of you to do the following:
Review the list of new faculty needs and ask yourself two important questions: 1)What do I need right now? and 2) What is the most efficient and effective way to get it?
If you feel resistant to reaching out, seeking professional assistance, or asking for help, gently ask yourself: why?
For every need that you identify, brainstorm at least three different ways to get it met. I keep a list of resources, references, and referrals on the NCFDD website that may provide a good starting point.
If you have not yet met the faculty development professionals on your campus, ask who they are, where they are located, and what services they offer.
Write for at least 30 minutes every day (because people love to mentor, sponsor, and support productive new faculty members).

I hope this week brings each of you the energy to re-think your assumptions about mentoring, the clarity to identify what YOU need right now, and the energy to seek new and creative ways to get all of your needs met!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Voice - Season 8 - Winner Predictions

Time for my predictions for The Voice Season 8. This is after the first live playoffs.

The 12 contestants from the 4 teams,

Team Adam : Brian Johnson, Joshua Davis, Deanna Johnson
Team Blake  :  Corey Kent White, Hannah Kirby, Meghan Linsey,
Team Xtina : India Carney, Kimberly Nichole, Rob Taylor,
Team Pharrell : Koryn Hawthrone, Mia Z, Sawyer Federicks,

My 4 finalist,
Mia Z, Kimberly Nichole, Meghan Linsey, Brian Johnson

Winner, The Voice Season 8 : Meghan Linsey from Team Blake.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Pick Your Battles (Monday Motivator for Faculty for the Future, April 6, 2015 )

This is an excerpt from the Monday Motivator Program of Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. Please find the original document here. The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity is an independent professional development, training, and mentoring community of over 71,000 graduate students, post-docs, and faculty members.

There is a whole lot of free-floating frustration in the air lately! My inbox has been overflowing with messages from new faculty who are sick of departmental drama, tired of students’ hostility, and who are so filled with anger that they can’t focus on their research and writing. I'm not sure if all this pent-up anger is from unresolved conflicts that have been brewing all year or the result of cumulative devaluation in the workplace. Either way, it seems clear that we could use some straight talk about Common New Faculty Mistake #13: Avoiding Conflict.

Conflict is Inevitable
Academia is full of intellectual, interpersonal, political, and downright petty conflicts. While many new faculty members feel comfortable with intellectual conflicts, they struggle to effectively resolve everyday conflicts. Their discomfort in resolving conflict extends across a wide spectrum and includes people who have more power (senior colleagues and administrators) and people who have less power (students) within their institution. I believe this results directly from the fact that we all received extensive training in the art of substantive argumentation as part of our graduate research training, but few of us ever learned how to resolve inter-personal conflicts in ways that don’t harm our relationships with others.

And, if you’re an underrepresented faculty member, the dynamics of racism and sexism mean that, in addition to the common conflicts that new faculty members experience, you may also experience devaluation, disrespect, and daily micro-aggressions. Let me be perfectly clear: It's OK to feel angry when people behave badly (even if their behavior is unintentional). In my 12 years as a faculty member, I was routinely asked to make copies by people who assumed I was the department secretary, asked if I "really had a PhD" by students who couldn’t imagine someone like me was a professor, and it was regularly assumed that I worked for Professor Rockquemore (instead of actually being Professor Rockquemore). Every time these types of incidents occurred, I felt annoyed that I wasn’t getting the benefit of the doubt that my other colleagues received and angry that I live in a world where my presence requires continual explanation. Anger, annoyance, and frustration are normal responses to persistent sexism and racism in the workplace. In fact, if you receive subtle daily reminders that you’re different and imply that you only belong in the ivory tower in a supporting role, then it’s OK to feel mad about it.

The problem occurs when new faculty members (majority or minority) respond to conflicts in one of two extreme ways: 1) fighting every battle or 2) avoiding conflict altogether. The problem with fighting every battle is that you will quickly alienate yourself from everyone in your environment. The problem with avoiding conflict is that when you push anger down, it grows, deepens, and expands. This can put you at risk of publicly exploding when triggered by a minor incident, developing stress-related illness, and/or sucking up so much of your energy that you have none left for your intellectual work.

That said, expressing anger is tricky because we live in a world where there are precious few socially acceptable forms of communicating anger in the workplace (this is especially so for underrepresented faculty). Any expression of anger tends to be interpreted through the frames of race and gender. Even the smallest expression of anger from my Black male colleagues resulted in their being labeled as "threatening” or "unprofessional.” And for women, communicating frustration quickly got them labeled as "emotional," "out of control," and/or a "bitch."

Healthy Conflict
Conflict in your professional life is inevitable, so it's critically important for all of us to learn when and how to express our feelings in ways that are effective and professionally appropriate. If you are underrepresented, you’re likely to have more conflict AND to have your responses interpreted through particular frames, so you have to be extra skilled at conflict resolution. The good news is that learning how to engage in healthy conflict will allow you to express your feelings, retain your integrity, and minimize negative consequences to your professional relationships.

Here are the three questions I use when conflicts arise:
  1. In this particular situation, should I push back or should I pull back?
  2. What will I gain and what will I lose?
  3. If I decide to push back, what's the most effective way to do so?

There are no right or wrong answers here. Sometimes pushing back makes sense; other times it's better to pull back and then go hit the punching bag at the gym. Either way, anger is energy so it has to come out of your body. In other words, don't confuse "pulling back” with "stuffing down”! Pulling back simply means releasing the angry energy in an indirect way because the costs of expressing it directly outweigh the benefits.

For the times when I decide to push back, my best trick is to use Marshall Rosenberg’s formula:
  1. State your observation of the problematic behavior.
  2. Describe how it makes you feel.
  3. Make your needs explicit.
  4. Clearly request what you want.

For example, during my last week as a faculty member, someone came to my door and said, "Excuse me, I'm looking for Professor Rockquemore. Do you know where she is?" Despite my name on the door and the fact that I was the only person sitting in the room, my visitor must have had a synaptic misfire that disallowed these two pieces of data to result in the common-sense conclusion that I am Professor Rockquemore. This happened frequently and most of the time I decided it's not worth pushing back. Typically, I pulled back, smiled, and said: "I'm Professor Rockquemore, what do you need?" But not that day! I was tired, cranky, and just sick of having to explain myself to others. I decided I had nothing to lose and much to gain by pushing back. My first impulse was to throw my stapler at the person's head, but instead I breathed deeply, paused, and asked myself: What is the most effective way to push back?

I chose to say [in a professional and non-reactive tone]:
"When I'm the only person sitting in this office and you ask me ‘Where is Professor Rockquemore?’ it makes me feel frustrated that you've looked at me and assumed I couldn't be that person. It also makes me feel angry that I live in a world where I have to keep explaining to people that I'm really a professor. Professors come in lots of different packages, so I just want to encourage you to rethink your assumptions about the type of people who fill that role. Now, how can I help you?"

This was a simple two-minute exchange, but I'm sharing it to make the point that we can choose to push back or pull back on a case-by-case basis (as opposed to always pushing back or always pulling back as our default strategy). Secondly, there are a wide variety of possible responses to any conflict and each response has a different set of costs and benefits associated with it. Third, when we let off the steam in small increments, it doesn't build up or put us in danger of exploding. And finally, because I have memorized Rosenberg's mental framework, (when you _____, I feel ______, I need _____, and I want you to _____), I can quickly and easily express myself in a way that is honest, clear, professional, and opens the space for real communication and conflict resolution.

The Weekly Challenge
This week I challenge each of you to do the following:
  • Gently ask yourself: How do I manage conflict? Am I carrying around unresolved anger at people in my department? Am I in danger of exploding? Are there ways I could engage in conflict that would allow me to express myself more effectively?
  • Notice how you feel when conflict arises this week.
  • If you are an underrepresented faculty member, acknowledge that anger is a healthy response to persistent racial and gender inequality.
  • Imagine several different ways you could respond to conflicts that arise (pushing back and/or pulling back).
  • Assess what you would gain and what you would lose by making different choices.
  • Try using compassionate communication in a low-level, low-risk conflict situation this week (but always in person and not over email!).
  • Write every day this week for at least 30 minutes! If you find yourself unable to write because you’re upset over an unresolved conflict, that’s a good indicator that it’s time to resolve it.
We often hear the generic advice to "pick your battles." This week, I want to encourage each of us to fundamentally rethink the idea that we have to wait until conflicts reach the stage of "battle"! Instead, let’s recognize that conflict is a normal outcome of people working together in an academic community. As a result, let’s begin to imagine ourselves as professionals who are comfortable, confident, and capable of resolving conflicts in our day-to-day lives.

I hope this week brings each of you the ability to assert yourself on a regular basis, the courage to express your feelings in ways that let off emotional steam incrementally, and the deep sense of empowerment that comes from engaging in healthy conflicts that strengthen (instead of weaken) our professional relationships.

The Art of Delegation (Monday Motivator for Faculty for the Future, March 30, 2015 )

This is an excerpt from the Monday Motivator Program of Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. Please find the original document here. The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity is an independent professional development, training, and mentoring community of over 71,000 graduate students, post-docs, and faculty members.

It's always perplexing to me that new faculty who describe themselves as physically, emotionally, and intellectually exhausted are often so resistant to trying a little delegation. I was recently at a large conference where I met lots of new faculty, most of whom told me how tired and frazzled they felt each week. Every time I asked someone why they felt so fatigued, I heard lists of work a mile long! But when I gently suggested delegating some of that work, hiring help, or seeking assistance, these ideas were met with scoffs, gasps, glares, and defensiveness. That made me realize it's definitely time to discuss Common Mistake #12:Believing You Must Do EVERYTHING Yourself.

For a variety of reasons, new faculty members often believe they must do everything on their own. This may be because they did so as graduate students, are unaware of the support services available to them, don't trust others, feel uncomfortable asking for help, and/or simply have no experience delegating tasks. No matter what causes people to feel that they must do everything themselves, it results in the same problems: exhaustion, inefficiency, and lower productivity. You have only a finite number of hours in each workday and they need to be aligned with your promotion and tenure criteria in order for you to be successful. If nonessential tasks are keeping you from research and writing, it's time to rethink the do-everything-yourselfstrategy in order to focus your energy on the things that really matter.

Evaluate Your Tasks and Delegate
If you are feeling exhausted, stop for a moment and examine your workload. Then gently ask yourself the following questions:

Which tasks must be done by ME and which tasks can be completed by SOMEONE ELSE?
Every aspect of your job is comprised of a series of tasks. Some of the tasks can only be done by you, so you should continue to invest your energy in them. But there are many tasks that do not require your personal attention in order to get done. In other words they can, and possibly should, be completed by someone else.

Where Can I Get Help?
Some of you are fortunate enough to have research, professional development, and/or start-up funds, access to motivated graduate and/or undergraduate students, and competent office staff. These supportive resources and people are in place to assist you in becoming successful and productive in your research so utilize them! Once you have identified what tasks can be done by someone other than you, imagine who else could complete them. Below I list some ways that the new faculty I work with have started to identify nonessential tasks and delegate them:

One person realized she was spending an hour printing and making copies before each class -- she decided to post half the material on her class’s Blackboard site and ask her department staff person to copy the remaining items.
Another person needed assistance grading exams -- she created a rubric and hired a grader on an hourly basis for the end of the semester.
Another couldn't find the time to get a manuscript that was 90% complete out the door -- he sent it to a professional editor.
Another still had not unpacked the boxes in her office from last summer's move and was losing too much time each week searching for things -- she hired a highly organized undergraduate student on an hourly basis to read Organizing From The Inside Out, design a system for her office, and help unpack those boxes.
Another person assumed she would have to index her own book (after learning that the press publishing her manuscript would not pay for the indexing) – instead she asked her chair for ideas and found out that her college has a "book subvention fund” for new faculty and all she had to do was apply and hire an indexer recommended by the press.
Finally, one needed to fill in the holes of a bibliography -- she asked her RA to complete this task (it was the first task she had delegated to him all year because she "didn’t want to impose” on his time).

Once new faculty members realize that they don’t have to do everything themselves, the next layer of resistance to delegation is often some form of the following: "You don’t understand! I don’t have any money and my institution is broke!” Whenever I hear this, I know to ask: "Have you actually requested assistance or are you just assuming it doesn’t exist?” Nine out of ten times, the defensive and dismissive resister has been constantly hearing about budget cuts, shrinking endowments, and various predictions of institutional apocalypse. They then assumed that there were no funds available to support anything beyond basic necessities at their college. But when they actually ask for help, they are often surprised and delighted to find that people help them get their needs met.

Sometimes it’s through internal funding that the new faculty member may not have known existed (like that book subvention fund). Sometimes it’s through a creative use of existing resources that the new faculty member simply wasn’t utilizing properly (like asking departmental staff to make copies for you). My main point is simply this: You do NOT have to be rich or work for a well-funded private institution to delegate tasks on your to-do list. You DO have to understand that doing everything yourself can lower your overall productivity on the things that matter to your long-term success. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and not making progress on your research agenda, it makes sense to determine what tasks can be done by someone else and find innovative ways to delegate those nonessential tasks.

I don't know what your individual needs and/or resources are, but it's worth taking 15 minutes at this week’s Sunday Meeting to review your commitments for the remainder of the semester, consider what nonessential tasks are on your to-do list, decide how they can be delegated, and who (besides you) can get them done. In other words, if you have more work than hours in a day, it’s time to take a fresh look around and ask: How can I delegate? Get creative and do some brainstorming with mentors in your department, your professional network, or on the NCFDD discussion forum.

The Weekly Challenge
  • This week I challenge each of you to do the following
  • Analyze your to-do list for this week.
  • Determine what tasks must be done by you and what can be delegated to someone else.
  • Think creatively about how to use your existing resources to move some non-essential tasks off your plate.
  • If you are afraid to ask departmental staff members to do their job and/or "don’t want to impose” on graduate assistants, stop and ask yourself: What’s up with that?
  • If you don’t have funds under your control for supportive services, ask your department chair what resources exist on campus to support your professional development and productivity.
  • If you’re still resistant to delegation, gently ask yourself: why do I feel that I must do everything myself? What essential work isn’t getting done while I am doing nonessential busy work? Is this the best use of my work time?
  • (Re) commit yourself to 60 minutes of writing every day – that’s definitely something that only YOU can do! 
I hope that this week brings each of you extraordinary clarity when analyzing your tasks, unlimited creativity as you delegate the nonessential ones, and the deep joy that comes from investing your best energy into your intellectual projects!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Listen to Your Body (Monday Motivator for Faculty for the Future, March 16, 2015 )

This is an excerpt from the Monday Motivator Program of Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. Please find the original document here. The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity is an independent professional development, training, and mentoring community of over 71,000 graduate students, post-docs, and faculty members.

This time of year my e-mail is overflowing with messages from new faculty members who are in a spring term funk: physically and mentally exhausted, annoyed with colleagues, can't stand to hear another talk, students working their last good nerve, and hopelessly behind on writing and research. While this spring term funk is a recurring phenomenon, I am struck by how many of you also describe physical symptoms and illnesses that have emerged along with your escalating stress level. As a result, let’s talk about Common New Faculty Mistake #10:Ignoring Your Body.

While some of our physical ailments are purely physical, others can result from work-related stress and the manifestation of unresolved emotional issues. When we fail to provide for our own needs and personal care, our body has a way of getting our attention by sending out pain signals: all those aching backs, chest pains, breathing problems, migraine headaches, dizziness, digestive problems, and hair falling out by the fistful that folks described. And I understand why many of you are stressed! The tenure-track is a six year full-out sprint that is stressful by design. If you’re under-represented, you may also be facing racism and sexism in your departments that can result in elevated expectations and scrutiny of your teaching and research. Additionally, many of you are caregivers who are also responsible for aging parents, extended family members, small children, and some grown folks that act like children. The combination of all these factors on a daily basis creates stress that needs to be relieved on a regular basis. The problem is that when we ignore our body's messages in pursuit of productivity and meeting other people's needs, our own symptoms can continually increase in severity. Pushing ourselves past our limits -- until we are ill and require immediate medical attention -- doesn't make any of us more productive! Instead, we are forced to take blocks of time off to recover, and end up being simultaneously less healthy and less productive.

This week, I want to suggest that we each acknowledge the stress we are experiencing and check in with our bodies and our spirits. Below are three steps you can use to check in with yourself, assess your stress, and take a step toward stress reduction.

Check in with yourself
Start by asking yourself (without judgment): How am I feeling today, physically and emotionally? Are my needs being met? Do I have regular stress-relieving activities? What is missing in my life? What have I let fall by the wayside while I've been working so hard and caring for others? How can I get my needs met in an immediate way?

Assess your stress
Once you are in touch with your needs, name them. Some of you may have physical aches and pains that require medical attention. By all means, stop reading this and make an appointment with your health care professional. You may find that you need some basic personal care. Whether it's a guilt-free nap in your office or a honey-butter massage, go ahead and make arrangements to do what you need to do. Some of you have emotional needs that aren't being met, or maybe the cumulative impact of daily disrespect, devaluation, and departmental drama has taken a toll on your sense of self-worth. It's time to ask supportive people in your life to help you restore your internal equilibrium. Or maybe you have a generalized sense of exhaustion, in which case, it's time to open up your calendar and figure out how you can get a good night’s sleep every night this week.

Ask for Help
Many new faculty members are afraid to ask for help because they imagine it will be perceived as a sign of weakness and/or they don't want to impose on anyone else's precious time. In reality, we need other people's help and they will need ours at some point in time. When you are a new faculty member, asking for assistance is expected and serves as a sign of clarity and strength. My experience is that most senior faculty genuinely want you to succeed, and want to be helpful in that process. The problem is that they may not know how to do so because they don’t know what you need at any given time. Presenting them with a problem you’re having and asking them for advice makes it easier and more effective for them to mentor you.

Alternatively, you can describe a problem and ask for specific assistance. Honestly, getting the kind of help that will pull you out of a spring term funk is as simple as: 1) being highly specific about your needs and 2) asking others for concrete forms of help that take minimal time. For example, I have received all of the following requests in the past from pre-tenure faculty and was happy to accommodate them:
  • My students are driving me crazy! Will you guest lecture in my class next week?
  • I feel so demoralized by my colleagues. Will you call me tomorrow and affirm what's good about my work (and about me as human being) for 10 minutes?
  • I haven't cleaned all semester/quarter and my apartment is a disgusting mess. Will you help me find someone to clean it?
  • This winter weather has been so depressing I can't take it anymore! Can I borrow your HappyLite tomorrow morning for 30 minutes?
  • I just can't get started writing. Can I come over and write with you for an hour?
  • My son is sick AGAIN! Can you connect me with someone else who is going through the same thing so I can commiserate and figure out what to do?
  • I have a new idea and I've written 10 pages, but I need someone else to look at it and give me brief feedback. Can you read it and tell me if it makes logical sense?
  • All I ever do is work and now I feel angry and resentful. Can you suggest 3 things I can do for fun in Chicago that cost less than $20.00?
  • I just received a job offer. Can you read the offer letter and tell me what parts I can and should negotiate?
  • I'm sick. Can you recommend a doctor?

Isn't that amazing? They state their problem quickly and clearly, and then ask for a very specific action that takes little time (the max was guest lecturing in a 50-minute class, the least was 30 seconds to look up my doctor’s phone number). I then feel free to ask for assistance from them with the same rules: it has to be specific and take less than one hour. I don't know what your needs might be, but I hope this formula gives you some ideas of effective ways to ask for information, support, and connections that will help you get your needs met.

The Weekly Challenge

This week, I challenge you to:
  • Stop for a moment, close your eyes, and take three long deep breaths. Then ask yourself: How am I feeling and what do I need?
  • If you are unwilling or unable to do #1, gently ask yourself why you feel reactive to that suggestion.
  • If you discover you are physically ill, emotionally neglected, or just plain tired, ask yourself: What can I do this week to address my needs?
  • Give yourself permission to take whatever rest you need, knowing that overexertion reduces productivity.
  • Ask others for help either by initiating an open-ended conversation or by stating your need directly and making a specific request.
  • Write every day for at least 30 minutes.

I hope this week brings each of you physical and emotional health, the self-awareness to identify your needs, and the courage to ask for help from those in your community that are committed to your success.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

How to hide posts from Blogger?

Actually sometimes we publish some posts that we don’t want to be seen by anyone. It can be any reason and any post that you wish not to show in your homepage can be easily hidden from your visitors.

Don’t panic, there wont be any codes to enter in your template (as what others suggested) and I'm not going to share any codes; Do you know that Blogger lets you to change the post back to draft? The trick is by reverting to draft the post you can simply hide it from your homepage, but which still appears in your older archives. That is the hidden post is available only for you to post later on, and not for visitors who lands straight in your homepage. Let us see how to hide certain posts from Blogger homepage.

Login to your Blogger blog and go to posts. Now in post editor that is in top center you will see “publish” option. Just next to that you have "revert to draft" option. Click and select the check boxes of all the posts you want to hide and then click on the revert to draft option.

Go check on your blog’s homepage where you can notice that the particular post is hidden.

Hope this helped you on how to hide specific posts from homepage in Blogger.

Have You Fallen Into The Teaching Trap? (Monday Motivator for Faculty for the Future Monday, March 9, 2015 )

This is an excerpt from the Monday Motivator Program of Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. Please find the original document here. The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity is an independent professional development, training, and mentoring community of over 71,000 graduate students, post-docs, and faculty members.

My first tenure-track job was extraordinarily teaching intensive. I taught five courses per semester at a community college while also writing my dissertation. As difficult as that situation was for me, I was delighted to have a job devoted to teaching because at the very core of my being, I AM a teacher. As someone who loves teaching, I threw my heart and soul into every class. And, as you can imagine, I quickly burned out! As I moved to different jobs (first at a liberal arts college and then a research-intensive university), you might expect that the time I spent on teaching decreased as my research expectations increased. But that wasn’t the case -- even when teaching two courses per semester I still spent the same amount of time as when I was teaching five!

I’m remembering what it felt like to spend so much time on teaching because I’ve been inundated the past two weeks by new faculty who are frustrated about how much time, energy and effort they are spending on teaching and service and how little is "left over" for research and writing. Given the consistent feelings of exhaustion and discouragement expressed, I think it's time for some honest discussion about Common New Faculty Mistake #9: Falling Into the Teaching Trap.

Teaching can be a wonderfully fulfilling, intellectually stimulating, and enjoyable activity, so let me be clear what I mean by "the teaching trap." The trap is when new tenure-track faculty spend the vast majority of their time on teaching at the expense of their research and writing and then find that their limited research productivity endangers their ability to be promoted at their current institution, or move to another one. And if you are at an institution where your advancement will be based largely (or entirely) on teaching, the "teaching trap” occurs when you fail to manage your boundaries around teaching so that you have no time or energy for the other things that matter in your work and in your life. If you find yourself coming to campus early and staying late, if you’re spending every weekend grading and preparing for the next week’s classes, if you're answering student's text messages into the wee hours of the night, if you’re sacrificing sleep and/or pulling all-nighters in order to get ready for the next day’s class meeting, and – as a result -- you haven’t spent any time moving your research agenda forward or investing in your long-term success, then you may have fallen into the teaching trap.

Time for Some Tough Questions
While it’s important to recognize when you have fallen into the teaching trap, it’s even more critical to identify WHY you are spending such disproportionately large amounts of time on teaching. The first place to start climbing out of the trap is by asking yourself: why am I over-preparing and over-functioning in this one aspect of my job?

There are MANY different possible reasons including:
You love teaching (you find course prep and classroom interaction more stimulating than research).
You mistakenly equate "great teaching" with delivering enormous amounts of content in each class period.
You feel insecure about your job performance.
You are highly sensitive to students' evaluations of your teaching.
You believe it’s somehow possible to please everyone so if you just spend more time, you will teach better and receive unanimously positive evaluations.
You feel you have to be twice as good to be judged as equal.
You have unrealistically high expectations about teaching.
You often feel like a fraud or impostor, so over-preparing for your classes protects you from being discovered.
You have a profound fear of failure in the areas of research and publication (teaching becomes a form of procrastination from writing).
You have never thought about how you're spending your time and have unconsciously fallen into the teaching trap because of the built-in accountability that standing in front of a classroom full of students several times a week provides.
Your professors were poor teachers when you were in college and you’re trying to be different and better for your students (i.e., the professor you never had).
If you’re an underrepresented faculty member, the dynamics of racism and sexism in the classroom mean that you don’t get the benefit of the doubt from students, so you over-prepare in order to prove you deserve to be teaching in a college classroom.

Once you have pinpointed WHY you are over-preparing, you can begin to think about ways to teach effectively and efficiently. Here are a few ideas:

Write Every Day
If you're spending too much time on teaching and haven't set aside time for your writing, then consider rearranging your daily schedule so that you write for at least 30 minutes every day, first thing in the morning (before checking email). Instead of preparing for class and "hoping” you have time to write, flip that upside down so that you write first and hope to have time to complete all of your course prep.

Try a Mid-Term Course Correction
I've previously suggested giving a mid-term evaluation to your students by asking three simple questions: 1) What do you like best about this class? 2) What do you like least about this class? and 3) What suggestions do you have for the rest of the semester? Listen closely to what your students are saying, take some of their suggestions, and let them know you are doing so. This is a wonderful opportunity to right-size the reading and writing assignments left in the term and give yourself the chance to re-orient your time and energy toward your research.

Take the Long View of Your Career
If you're like me and spend too much time on teaching because you LOVE teaching and LOVE your students, try to think of your career as a book with many chapters. If research is a significant component of your tenure review, then the pre-tenure chapter must focus on research and writing in order for there to be subsequent chapters. You can invest in becoming a master teacher in one of the post-tenure chapters of your career. But for now, you must figure out a way to teach that doesn’t preclude publication.

Align Your Teaching Standards With Your Department
If you are a perfectionist and have very high standards for your classroom, consider visiting some of your colleague's classrooms. This can be a tremendously liberating experience and help you to put what goes on in your own classroom into alignment with your local context. Now if your colleagues are apathetic or mediocre in the classroom, I’m not suggesting you become apathetic or mediocre. But if, for example, you are assigning twice as many essays as your colleagues (which then requires you to spend twice as much time grading), there may be room for adjustments.

Hire a Grader
If you have the funds, hire someone to assist you with grading. Having a grader forces you toconstruct grading rubrics for assignments, which is both an excellent teaching practice and a time-saving technique.

Ask Your Local Faculty Developer For Help
Many campuses have a Center for Teaching Excellence that is staffed with faculty development experts. These folks would love nothing more than to help you improve your teaching! Not only do they want to help you, they know all the empirically documented best practices. Find these people on your campus and ask them how you can become a more effective and efficient teacher.

Delete from Your Bookmarks (and Your Consciousness)
If your over-preparation is an effort to make everyone happy, if you are driven by a fear of negative evaluation, if you find yourself devastated by what a few angry students wrote about you on, and/or you consistently focus on the small number of negative reviews (to the exclusion of the overwhelmingly positive majority), it’s time to re-orient your perspective. First and foremost, stop checking this website: it’s neither representative nor helpful. Instead, use that time to ask yourself: does it make sense to focus on the broad pattern of comments in my formal student evaluations or the outlying data points as reliable feedback for my teaching? If the broad pattern is negative, it’s time to visit your local faculty developer. If the broad pattern is positive, release yourself from the idea that it’s even possible to please everyone. It that doesn’t work, try asking some of your senior colleagues (whose teaching you admire) to share their evaluations with you and provide some perspective on yours. This will open your eyes to the fact that even award-winning master-teachers receive a few negative evaluations each term. The difference is that they have learned to focus on the big picture and work towards continual and incremental improvement each semester instead of dwelling on a handful of negative comments.

Consider Working on Your Core Issues
If you find that the reasons underlying your over-functioning are deep and profound feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, anxiety, and fear, then why not consider taking one hour out of your week to unravel those issues with a therapist. Psychological obstacles tend to persistently re-emerge across various areas of our lives and relationships so why not pro-actively start the process of self-reflection and growth now?

Create Accountability for Your Research and Writing
If you spend too much time on teaching because it has a built-in accountability mechanism (you have to stand in front of class several times a week), then create an equally powerful accountability mechanism for your research and writing. You can join the monthly writing challenges on the NCFDD discussion forum, you can connect with a writing buddy, you can join a write-on-site group, or you could start a writing group of new faculty who hold each other accountable for meeting their weekly writing goals. I've done all of these at different times of my career to create accountability for my writing that rivals a classroom full of students for my teaching, and each one has been effective in keeping me on track.

I'm NOT suggesting you should run out and do ALL of these things today. Instead, I'm presenting this list of ideas to stimulate your thinking about how many different options you have available to help you escape the teaching trap.

The Weekly Challenge
This week I challenge you to:
  • Evaluate whether your time spent on teaching is in line with your tenure criteria.
  • If not, gently ask yourself: WHY AM I SPENDING SO MUCH TIME ON MY TEACHING?
  • Once you know the answer, develop one concrete step forward you can take this week to align the distribution of your time and energy towards the activities that matter most to your tenure and promotion.
  • Write every day for at least 30 minutes (just try it!).

I hope this week brings each of you the honesty to assess whether or not you have fallen into The Teaching Trap, the strength to ask yourself WHY, and the joy of consciously making changes that will allow you to move in a new direction!

Time for a 360 (Monday Motivator for Faculty for the Future Monday, March 2, 2015 )

This is an excerpt from the Monday Motivator Program of Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. Please find the original document here. The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity is an independent professional development, training, and mentoring community of over 71,000 graduate students, post-docs, and faculty members.

It’s hard to believe that it’s already the first week of March! I’m not sure why, but there's something particularly frantic about the middle of the spring term. When I look around, I see frazzled and exhausted faculty running from one meeting, event, and/or job talk to the next. Every conversation includes lengthy descriptions about how tired they are, how far behind they feel, and how they don't know when (or how) they will ever catch up. And, of course, there’s lots of fantasizing about Spring Break and even more about the imagined bliss of the summer.

In the midst of particularly intense times of the academic year, it's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of everyday departmental chaos and lose sight of the big picture. The problem with operating this way is that we can easily fall into old unproductive behavior patterns and short-term ways of thinking. If you’re living each day in crisis-management mode, it’s easy to forget to ask yourself if things have to be so chaotic, to seek advice from others, or to work toward creating solutions that will help you work smarter. In other words, Common Mistake New Faculty Make #8 is failing to create feedback loops you can rely on in tough times.

We all need consistent feedback (from ourselves and others) and the reality of academic life is that if you don’t proactively create feedback loops, you’re unlikely to get the type of information you need to take control of your work life, teach efficiently and well, and enjoy the job you’ve worked so long and hard to obtain. Sometimes this is referred to as a 360-degree feedback because you place yourself in the center and seek information about your performance and advice from those around you. That includes people who are above you (senior faculty) and below you (students) in your college’s organizational hierarchy. In other words, the middle of the term is a great time to ask yourself and others:
  1. Am I on track?
  2. What's holding me back? and
  3. How can I make a positive change?

Are You on Track?
To answer this question, start by taking a look at your spring term writing goals. That’s right, go ahead and pull out that scrap of paper, post-it-note, napkin, memo pad, or whatever it was you wrote them on. The purpose of documenting your goals each term is to give you a convenient tool to evaluate your progress. Once you have them in front of you, honestly assess your productivity. If you are ahead of schedule or right on track: congratulations! If you are behind schedule, that's fine. If you haven't made any progress whatsoever, that's OK too. This is not intended to be an exercise in scholarly self-flagellation. It's simply an opportunity to honestly assess your progress without any excessive criticism, judgment, or shame.

What's Holding You Back?
If you are not satisfied with your progress, then identify what's holding you back. Personally, I'm slightly behind schedule, so I need to determine what exactly are my problems. Without identifying the problems, it's impossible to design effective solutions. I use this quick and easy format to identify what’s holding me back (it’s Julie Morgenstern’s framework that I’ve adapted for academics):

Technical Errors
The following types of errors occur when you are missing some relevant skill or technique such as:
You haven't set aside a specific time for your research and writing
You've set aside the wrong time to complete your work
You have no idea how much time a particular research, writing, teaching, or service task takes and/or you consistently underestimate the time required to complete tasks
You're the wrong person for the job (you think you have to do it all and that asking for help is a sign of weakness)
The tasks you have set out are too complex (items like "finish my book" are on your to-do list)
You can't remember what you have to do because you don't believe in lists or calendars
Your electronic or physical space is disorganized so you can never find what you need when you need it

External Constraints
These are situations or environmental factors that are beyond your control. For example:

You have an externally-imposed unrealistic workload
A health problem limits your energy
You are in a physical transition (like moving offices)
You are in a life transition (new baby, divorce, unexpected elder care)
You are externally forced to work in an interruption-rich environment
You have a disorganized person in your life who negatively impacts you (such as a chaotically driven spouse, boss, co-author, colleague, research team, client/patient/research participant)
You work in a hostile environment (and end up spending a lot of time and energy dealing with excessive conflict)

Psychological Blocks
These are the deeper issues that burst forth and keep you from moving forward every time you sit down to write:
Feeling disempowered around research, writing, and/or your intellectual abilities
Fear of downtime (during which you may have to deal with difficult issues like what you really want to do with your life and/or your relational problems)
Needing to be a caretaker at the expense of your own needs (your helping others is out of balance so you feel resentful, unappreciated and overwhelmed)
Fear of failure
Fear of success
Fear of disrupting the status quo and/or speaking truth to power
Fear of completion
Unrealistically high expectations
A hyperactive inner critic, and/or
Unclear goals and priorities

How Can I Make a Positive Change?
Once you have identified what's holding you back, think of the most direct way to address these issues. You don't have to solve everything at once, but pick the greatest problem area and create a solution. For example, if you haven't written anything at all this term, it may be because you haven't set aside a specific time each day for writing or you’re leaving writing until the end of the day. That's easy to fix! Just block out 30 – 60 minutes in your calendar every morning for writing, get your butt in a chair each day at the appointed time, and start writing. Maybe you’ve discovered that you’re way behind in your classes. Figure out if the problem is that you set unrealistic goals, you’re over-preparing and then have too much content for each class period, or maybe you’re spending too much time grading. If it's the goals, then revise them. If it's over-preparation, then reduce your lecture time and increase your students' engagement. And if it’s grading, try creating a rubric for efficiency. Better yet, ask your students for feedback (via a mid-term evaluation) and then implement some of their suggestions! They will be happier and so will you. Or maybe you’ve discovered you really want to be a __________ (insert community organizer, documentary filmmaker, wedding planner, journalist, or whatever...) and you're miserable as an academic. Well, that's important information to acknowledge and work with as well. It may be time to stop running yourself ragged and start creating an exit strategy.

The Weekly Challenge
This week, I challenge you to consider creating feedback loops:
  • Find and review your writing goals for this term.
  • Without criticism or judgment, honestly assess your progress and the likelihood you will meet your goals.
  • If you are on track, arrange a special treat for yourself this week -- you deserve it!
  • If you are unhappy with your progress, take the time to identify what's holding you back.
  • Based on your analysis, find at least one concrete way to move forward. Even if your problems are due mostly to external constraints, there are still many different strategies and techniques you can use to mitigate their negative impact.
  • Consider giving a quick and easy mid-term evaluation in your classes by asking your students: 1) what do you like best about this class? 2) what do you like least about this class? and 3) what suggestions do you have for the rest of the semester? Report back in the following class and announce that you intend to implement suggestions X, Y and Z (choose the ones that reduce your preparation time and improve learning).
  • Take one of your mentors out for coffee and discuss your progress, problems, and concerns about your research productivity and teaching this semester. Ask for his/her advice about how to resolve the problems you are facing. Don’t forget to thank them for taking the time to meet with you and provide you with such valuable advice (they will be more likely to assist you in the future).
  • If you find yourself reactive to the idea of mid-term evaluations, gently and lovingly ask yourself WHY?
  • Commit (or re-commit) yourself to writing at least 30 minutes every day.
  • Express gratitude for the opportunity and privilege to do the work you do at this moment in time (even if you don't want to do it much longer).
I hope that this week brings each of you the strength to move through this busy time of the year, a spirit of gentleness as you evaluate your progress and identify your problems, and the creativity to create brilliant solutions that work for YOU.