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.

Are You Maxed Out? (Monday Motivator for Faculty for the Future February 23, 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 recently gave a time management workshop to a completely exhausted group of tenure-track faculty. When I asked them to tell me why they were so exhausted, I heard a lengthy list of time challenges combined with a pervasive feeling that there was no way out of their 60-80 hour workweeks. As I listened, I couldn't help but think of the old TV show "Maxed Out." Each episode featured stressed-out people who were deeply in debt and had no idea how to climb out of it. Inevitably, their financial problems boiled down to: 1) not knowing how much debt they had, 2) a lack of clarity about where their money went each month, and 3) a vague sense of what they hoped might happen in the future but no concrete plan to move in that direction. They always felt out of control and frustrated at the outset but as soon as they created a plan, took a hard look at their reality, and made some concrete behavioral changes, they experienced a sense of empowerment and forward motion. So when I was listening to the frazzled faculty it felt clear to me that they were totally maxed out -- not on money but onTIME. And because this is so common, I want to dedicate this week's Monday Motivator to common faculty error #7: Not Knowing How You Spend Your Time.

Are You Maxed Out?

We all have heard that financial intelligence requires knowing how you spend your money. The problem with time is that unlike money, it is finite. We each have 24 hours in the day and must divide that precious time between personal, physical, professional, and familial commitments. We can't borrow extra hours from a credit card or bank. Instead, we have to work with the 24 hours that we have. The faculty members in my workshop complained that they never have enough time, that they are constantly running from one commitment to the next, and that their lack of time leads to feelings of frustration, guilt, shame, and an overall sense of not moving forward at an adequate pace. But at the same time, they couldn't answer the most basic questions about how they spend their time because they just don't know where the hours go.

I have been tracking my money for the past 13 years. At first I believed it was a total waste of time because I thought that I already knew how I was spending it. But the first month I tracked every penny, I couldn't believe the discrepancy between what I thought I spent, and what I actually spent. Knowing where my money went enabled me to start gaining control over my finances and making conscious decisions that would allow me to meet my long-term goals.

Likewise, the first time I tracked my time over a week, I was shocked by how much time I was spending on service and teaching and how little I was spending on writing and research, despite knowing that my publication record was the primary criteria for promotion and tenure at my institution. Understanding how you spend your time each week (not in your imagination, but in reality) will help you to decide if you are investing in things that will pay off in the long run, or spending it on things that offer immediate gratification but no long term interest. And more importantly, you must know how you’re investing your time today in order to make conscious decisions about how you will spend it in the future.

Track Your Time
I want to suggest that you try the same homework that the adviser on Maxed Out assigned: tracking! Instead of you tracking your money, keep track of how you spend your time this week. If you are feeling exhausted, frustrated, and I-don't-even-know-how-I'm-gonna-make-it-to-Spring-Break tired, then try starting this week by simply tracking your time. It doesn't have to be difficult or unpleasant, and it doesn't require you to buy or do anything different. Just put a little scrap of paper on your desk and keep a running tab of your activities and the time you spend on them during each day this week. Include everything: e-mail, writing, course prep, grading, talking to colleagues, reading, meetings, phone calls, student meetings, attending talks, preparing to give a talk, worrying, crying, food breaks, Facebook, etc. If you want to use an app, try Rescue Time.

Evaluate Your Data
Once you have a week's worth of data, tally up how much time you spend on research, teaching and service when you sit down for your weekly planning meeting (aka theSunday Meeting). That's a great time to gently and patiently ask yourself:
Is how I’m spending my time aligned with how I will be evaluated for tenure and promotion?
Does my time reflect my personal values, priorities, and long-term goals?

If the answer to these questions is "yes," then congratulations! But if you find that the answer is a resounding "NO!" then it's time to make some changes. For example, if 50 percent of your evaluation criteria is based on research and publication and you are only spending 2 hours a week writing -- there's a problem. If teaching is 25 percent of your evaluation criteria, but you are spending 40 hours a week on it -- there's a problem. And if service is taking up more than a few hours per week -- there's definitely a problem. The good news is that these are problems that can be resolved by proactively adjusting your behavior.

Rethink Your Time Expenditures
Faculty development researchers have documented that the difference between successful new faculty and those who struggle is how they spend their time. Successful new faculty:
Spend at least 30 minutes a day on scholarly writing
Integrate their research into their teaching
Manage course preparation time and avoid over-preparing for classes
Spend time each week discussing research and teaching with colleagues

Only you can determine if you’re satisfied with how you are spending your time each day. But, if you’re unhappy, exhausted, and feel like you’re not moving forward, then becoming conscious of how your time is spent AND comparing it to the behaviors of successful new faculty should give you some concrete ideas about how to climb out of your time debt.

The Weekly Challenge
If you're feeling maxed out this week, I challenge you to:
  • Track your time!
  • Without criticism or judgment, honestly evaluate how your time expenditures compare with your tenure and promotion criteria and/or your personal goals and values.
  • Try to identify and eliminate unnecessary time demands to increase the time you have available for the things that really matter.
  • Write at least 30 minutes every day.
I hope that this week brings each of you the patience to track your time, the wisdom to evaluate your current situation, and the sense of empowerment that results from making conscious decisions about how you spend your time each day.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Hedge Your Bets (Monday Motivator for Faculty for the Future)

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's Monday Motivator ("Get Out There and Shake It!") definitely pressed some people’s "personal responsibility" buttons! I heard lots of immediate reactivity, but I also heard from people who decided to take new steps forward by setting up lunch dates, asking someone to read a manuscript, focusing their regular conversation with a colleague on research (instead of departmental gossip), and one person simply decided to approach one of her crankiest colleague in a whole new spirit. Bravo!

The fact of the matter is that most departments aren’t set up to support your success and yet, YOU HAVE TO SUCCEED ANYWAY! So, congratulations to all of you who acknowledged that as your reality and stepped out in a new way last week. And since I'm on the general topic ofShaking It, let's move on to the next common mistake new faculty members make: Putting All Your Eggs in One Institutional Basket.

I realize that it's incredibly difficult to get a tenure-track job these days and some of us were in graduate school for so long that we feel extraordinarily grateful to our institutions for simply employing us. In addition, many of us were trained under faculty mentors who spent their entire careers at ONE institution and taught us this was "the way things are" in academic life. Regrettably, the result is that some new faculty members behave as if their very life depends on that tenure decision. They bend over backwards to please everyone at their institution, invest large amounts of time in long term institutional projects, and accept poor treatment out of a desperate hope that they will be deemed worthy and allowed to stay. In other words, their identity and self-worth are so wholly dependent on winning tenure at their current institution that failing to do so would be utterly unbearable.

The problem with this approach is twofold. First and foremost, you don't know whether your current institution is going to make a long-term commitment to you (via tenure and promotion), so why invest 100 percent of your emotional energy, identity, and self in that outcome? More importantly, this desperate stance puts you in a powerless position because you are, in effect, handing all the power over your future to your employer (instead of assuming some control over it yourself).

How your senior colleagues will vote on your tenure case is out of your control, but there are several important factors that are fully under your control: 1) your research productivity, 2) your emotional investment in your current institution, and 3) promoting your work beyond your institution. Below I outline just a few concrete ways that you can protect yourself from the possibility of future loss, by identifying your power today and using it to invest in your productivity first.

Cultivate a Professional Attitude
One of the best ways that you can hedge your bets is to shift your reference group from the faculty at your institution to the broader national arena of your discipline. By understanding yourself as "a scholar who currently works at ______ college/university," you will begin to understand the necessity of not only "shaking it" with your departmental colleagues, but extending your network to get out there and shake it with the other scholars in your discipline. By proactively extending your network and maximizing your research productivity, you increase the possibility that you will be marketable in your later tenure-track years and then have the ability to decide whether or not you want to stay at your institution (as opposed to whether or not others will allow you to stay).

Make a Top 10 List
The best advice I received as new faculty member was to make a list of the top 10 people in my research area and then make it my business to connect with them during my five years on the tenure track. Developing your Top 10 list is critical for two reasons: 1) this is the most likely pool of scholars from which your external review letters will be requested when you come up for tenure review, and 2) these are the scholars that your work is in conversation with (a conversation that can't happen if they are unaware of your published work). Even if you are at a college where teaching and research are equally valued, your institution will still solicit external reviews of your scholarship and they are likely to be drawn from the pool of well-known researchers in your area.

Extend Yourself
Once you have identified your Top 10, figure out how to connect with these individuals. You could invite them to give a talk at your institution, approach them at conferences, send them your recently published article with a personal note, etc. Some will be pleasant and approachable, and others will completely ignore you. What's important is that you begin proactively connecting with people in your discipline who matter to your future success -- as a candidate for tenure and as a scholar. Additionally, feel free to do whatever you think will help introduce other scholars in your field to your work, such as giving talks at your friend's institutions and other local colleges, giving great presentations at conferences, and letting other people know when you have published something they might find useful. The point is to let as many people know about your research as possible, while making targeted efforts with those who are likely to be asked to write your external reviews.

If You Are Unhappy, Go on the Market
Nothing puts your current situation in perspective like dipping a toe in the water! If you have published prolifically in the first few years of your current tenure-track job, then you are a far more attractive job candidate then you were ABD, and you are likely to generate more interest than in your previous job search. Sometimes visiting another campus makes you value your current institution in a whole new way, and other times it can make you wonder why on earth you have worked there so long. Either way, it can be a valuable experience to help you make the mental shift from institutional dependency to independence as a scholar.

Write Everyday
I should have started with this item, because everything else I've said is predicated upon your ability to publish your research. Publications are the currency in the academic market so maintaining research productivity will fulfill you as a scholar, increase your marketability, give you some measure of power over your own future, and provide you with the opportunity to make choices. In short, be sure you are writing every day and doing what you need to do to publish your research.

The Weekly Challenge
Write every day for at least 30 minutes.
Try creating your Top 10 list (if you don't have one already).
Brainstorm ways you could connect with the people on your Top 10 list.
Consider what it would mean to think of yourself FIRST as a scholar, and SECOND as a "junior" faculty member at your particular institution.
If you feel reactive to imagining yourself beyond your institutional walls, gently and patiently ask yourself WHY?
If you find yourself feeling "disloyal” by this type of thinking, remind yourself that your institution will quickly and easily cut you loose if you are denied tenure. Then consider how you could adjust your emotional investment in your institution to MATCH their investment in you.

Life on the tenure track can frequently leave new faculty feeling powerless, vulnerable, and at the mercy of subjective criteria for evaluation. I hope that this week brings each of you to clarity to claim what power you have in your academic career, the imagination to see beyond your immediate campus, and the peace that comes from knowing your future is in your hands.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Monday Motivator for Faculty for the Future: Get Out There & Shake It!

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 term, I’m focusing on the most common mistakes that new faculty members make. I learned last week that there are a whole lot of folks Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places!And that's OK, because the purpose of pointing out the most common errors is to become aware of them, consider alternative strategies, and make changes that will move you closer to the goal of winning tenure and promotion. In the spirit of progress toward positive change, let's move on to Mistake #5: Being reactive (instead of proactive) in your professional relationships.

In a perfect world, new faculty members would be warmly welcomed into their departments and actively nurtured by enthusiastic mentors. Colleagues would ask you to lunch, offer to read your work, initiate stimulating conversations, notice your stress, become your mentor, and offer to collaborate on projects. In short, you would be embraced and supported by members of a vibrant intellectual community so that your transition from graduate student to professor would be efficient and effective.

Unfortunately, most academic departments are far from perfect! So if you passively wait for others to initiate interaction, you are likely to be sitting in your office alone and isolated a great deal of the time. It is also the case that when you don't extend yourself, others may negatively perceive you as aloof, disengaged, or un-collegial. Most importantly, you may be missing out on important relationships, access to critical networks, professional opportunities, and the mentoring you need to thrive.

To be clear, new faculty members should not be single-handedly responsible for initiating relationships and integrating themselves into their new departments. But this is often the reality, especially for women in mostly male departments, and faculty of color in predominantly white departments. If this is your situation, you cannot sit back and reactively wait for senior faculty (who will be voting on your tenure and promotion) to reach out to you and include you in their networks and activities. Instead, your goal should be to proactively initiate relationships with your senior colleagues so that you are spending time each week discussing research and/or teaching with them.

Moving From a Reactive to a Proactive Stance in Your Professional Relationships

For me, moving from a reactive to proactive stance was one of the most difficult challenges of life on the tenure-track. I was that new faculty member sitting in my office, waiting for the welcome wagon to arrive, and indignant when an entire semester had gone by without a single invitation to lunch or coffee. When I complained to one of my mentors, his advice to me was: "get out there and shake it!"

Needless to say, I was horrified (at multiple levels). But I had to ask myself why -- as a generally outgoing person -- was I finding it so incredibly difficult to initiate relationships with my colleagues? I realized that: 1) I thought it was their responsibility to initiate a relationship with me, and 2) it's hard for me to connect with people who are inter-personally awkward, unpleasant, cranky, salty, don't share my politics, and/or made it clear that they didn't want me hired in the first place. Acknowledging the problem was half the battle, but let me share with you how I moved from weeping quietly in my office to "out there shaking it".

1) Adjust Expectations
While it should not have been solely my responsibility to build relationships with my senior colleagues, that was my departmental reality. So recognize the reality of YOUR environment (whatever that may be) and go ahead and take the first step in establishing professional relationships. I realized I didn't have to like everyone, but these were my colleagues and it was critically important for me to be proactive in developing positive and healthy professional relationships with them.

2) Ask Someone to Lunch
One of my mentors advised me to invite one person per week to lunch during the following semester. If lunch feels like too big of a commitment, then try coffee. If you can't even fathom the idea of coffee with a crusty colleague, then promise yourself you will linger for five minutes in their doorway and have a focused conversation. This will get easier each time you do it, and you can build from doorway to coffee, and coffee to lunch, over time.

3) Ask People for Advice
The easiest conversation starter is to ask someone for their advice. It could be something general or something quite specific, but it should be about research or teaching. People love to give advice to pre-tenure faculty and it creates a foundation for you to seek out their counsel later on when you have bigger problems and don't know how to resolve them. Asking for advice does NOT communicate weakness or incompetence; it communicates professionalism and a desire to establish a mentoring relationship with the person you're asking.

4) Talk About Your Research
For me, lunch and coffee dates became wonderful opportunities to talk about my research. By letting my colleagues know what projects I was working on, what conceptual or methodological problems I was having, and where I hoped to go in the future, I was "networking." The purpose of networking is connecting people, ideas and opportunities. If your colleagues don't know what you're doing and/or what you need, it's difficult for them to connect with you, and connect you with others. This is far more productive than using your brief time together to complain, gossip, cry, discuss personal problems, or talk about departmental politics. Keep the initial conversations focused on your work and keep in mind that ALL your colleagues (even the ones you don't like up front) can have important and helpful things to say about your research.

5) Open Yourself to Others
I learned that everyone is in my life for a purpose and has a tremendous gift to share with me. My job is to open up to them so I can receive their gift. You may think: why should I waste time chatting with some non-research-active senior colleague who can't possibly relate to the ever-escalating demands of today's tenure track? Stop and remind yourself that he/she will be voting on your tenure. Then approach that conversation with a true sense of curiosity by asking: Why is this person in my life and what can I learn from him/her? When I move towards my colleagues in a spirit of openness and hopeful expectation, it shifts the energy of the interaction and I am often delightfully surprised by the gifts they offer me.

Each of these steps helped me move from a reactive stance (waiting for my colleagues to establish relationships with me) to a proactive stance where I initiate contact, shape my relationships, ask for what I need, and focus the interactions on what matters. Using your personal power to move forward in this way will help you feel more connected to others in your department, open networks of opportunity, and help to solidify your professional relationships. And the more comfortable you are having substantive conversations with your campus colleagues, the easier it will be when you are at conferences, meetings, and workshops.

The Weekly Challenge

This week I challenge you to:
Assess your stance towards your colleagues by gently asking yourself: am I proactive or reactive in my professional relationships?
If you are being proactive, then congratulate yourself on being ahead of the game!
If you are reactive, pick one thing you can do to change your stance (i.e., invite someone to lunch, initiate a conversation, or stop by and chat).
Whatever you pick, commit to executing that behavioral change this week.
If you experience resistance to taking the first step with some of your colleagues, patiently ask yourself WHY?
If you haven't completed your semester/quarter plan, it's not too late! In fact, sharing your semester plan with a colleague is an easy way to start a conversation.
Write every day for at least 30 minutes. Daily writing will lead you be more productive and confident as a scholar, teacher, and colleague AND provide you with substantive issues to talk about every single day.

I hope that this week brings each of you the desire to analyze your relationship patterns with your colleagues, the courage to make positive change, and the true sense of empowerment that comes from stepping outside of your comfort zone.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Monday Motivator for Faculty for the Future: Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

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 the past three weeks, I've been focusing on the most common errors that tenure-track faculty make as they transition from graduate student to professor. The first three mistakes (no semester plan, no daily writing habit, and no clarity about balance) generated passionate responses, so I want to reiterate that while the Monday Motivator may feel like tough love at times, I hope each of you know that I am deeply invested in your professional success and personal sanity! If you are mired in one of these mistakes, it's okay. There is no judgment here. I am simply observing the common errors based on my work with pre-tenure faculty and my reading of the faculty development literature. And, of course, I've personally made every mistake that I describe each week and know how much freedom comes from overcoming them! That said, let's move on to Common New Faculty Mistake #4: Investing in Long-Term Institutional Change at the Expense of Your Research Agenda.

If I have seen it once, I've seen it a hundred times. A brand new faculty member (most often female and/or under-represented) decides to work single-handedly to create structural change at her institution. Full of energy and righteous indignation, she bursts on the scene fighting every battle imaginable. She spends many hours each week sending e-mails, protesting policies, serving on committees, writing reports, and/or organizing students while spending ZERO hours writing. She sincerely promises herself that she will devote her breaks to writing.
But when the breaks arrive, her energy has been so consumed by departmental drama and campus conflict that she needs that time to physically and emotionally recover. As a result, no writing occurs. By the end of her first year, no articles have been completed and nothing has actually changed at her institution. Let me be clear, working for change is not problematic in and of itself, but it is an error if you are doing it at the expense of your research and writing (or teaching if you are at a college where teaching is a significant component of your tenure evaluation). I understand the desire to work for change where you are, but if you fail to win tenure and promotion, any progress you've made will likely follow you right out the door.

"Don't Act Like You're Married When You're Only Dating..."
What is a well-intentioned new faculty member to do when surrounded by things that need to change? If you are highly productive, ahead of schedule on your research agenda, and your tenure case is being described as a "slam dunk," then feel free to organize on (as long as your activities don’t make you a thorn in the side of those who will be voting on your tenure case). However, if you're working toward change, but not publishing, here are a few tips:

1) Re-think Your Attitude Toward Institutional Change
If you are an under-represented faculty member, then please understand that your very existence in a predominantly white and male department IS your contribution to institutional change. Your physical presence in the classroom, in meetings, and on campus represents an important change at your institution! Your success in winning tenure will be a further contribution toward change. And as a pre-tenure faculty member, that's enough for now.

If that doesn't resonate with you, let me say it the way one of my mentors said it to me: "don't act like you're married when you're only dating!" I was confused by this at first, but she went on to explain that being on the tenure-track is like dating. If it works out, your institution will make a long term commitment to you by offering you tenure and promotion. And if it doesn't work out (for you or your university), you'll go your separate ways. Post-tenure, your relationship with your university will change. At that point, you're married so you'll be expected to engage in the types of service and leadership activities that are related to institutional well being. It's also when you'll be in the strongest position to work towards institutional change. If you think about it this way, then doing things like chairing a department, re-structuring curriculum, and taking on long-term strategic projects (like creating a new department) when you don't know if you'll be around to see the outcome are questionable. And if you're doing so at the expense of the very activity that will win you tenure (research and writing), it's time to take a step back and reassess what activities are appropriate at this time of your career.

2) Plan Now for Your Post-Tenure Contribution to Change
I encourage you to create a list, file or box where you can keep all of your ideas for change. My list was entitled: "all the things I'm going to do once I have tenure." At the top of my list was "design a mentoring program that actually works". By putting it on my list, I released myself from the need to create that change while I was on the tenure track and instead devoted time to my writing and research. Once tenured, I set out to change the way we understood "mentoring" at my institution and created an under-represented faculty mentoring program that was later institutionalized by my Provost's Office. I also wrote The BlackAcademic’s Guide to Winning Tenure Without Losing Your Soul, started giving campus workshops, and created the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity.

I was only able to do these things effectively because I was tenured, had an established research record, and could invest time in making the long-term changes I thought were necessary. I'm not writing this to toot my own horn, but to provide an example to encourage you to think of your career in STRATEGIC and LONG-TERM ways (i.e., as a book with many chapters). You can't do everything now, but you can focus your energy today on whatever it is that will allow you the stability, respect, and reputation in the future to achieve a larger set of goals.

3) Limit Current Commitments and Say "No" to Additional Requests
For those of you who are reading this and are already over-committed, list your current commitments on one piece of paper. Ask yourself: what initiative, committee, or project can I work on in a limited capacity that will fulfill my desire to make change with a minimal time investment? Pick something where your senior colleagues do the heavy lifting, risk-taking, and time-intensive labor. Let everything else go by either notifying people that you are over-committed and need to prioritize your research and writing, quietly fading out, or taking a back seat. If anyone asks you to sit on any additional committees, start a new initiative, join a strategic planning project, and/or start some sort of insurrection, just say "NO."

4) Write EVERY DAY For At Least 30 Minutes, First Thing in the Morning
I know you're sick of me saying this every week, but I can't stop! Writing every day will increase your productivity, which is important. But even more importantly, there's something about spending the first hour of your day moving that article, manuscript, and/or grant proposal forward that sends a signal to yourself and the universe that AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME, meeting your research expectation for tenure is your highest priority. Do not take my word for it, just try starting your day with 30 minutes of writing this week (before you check email) and see if it shifts your energy, your sense of yourself as a scholar, your commitments, and how you interact with others on your campus.

The Weekly Challenge

This week, I challenge each of you to:
Create a file, box, or list to capture ideas about what institutional changes you want to work towards once you have tenure.
If you are under-represented in any way, shape, or form, then stop and appreciate the fact that your very presence on campus represents change at your institution.
Take 10 minutes to make a list of all your current service commitments, highlighting ones that involve long-term institutional change on your campus.
Gently and lovingly go through that list and ask yourself: Does this make sense for me at this time in my career? Is this work precluding progress on my research? How many hours am I spending each week on this work versus writing and research? Will I be here to see this change? Is my commitment to my current institution equal to my institution's commitment to me? Edit the list accordingly.
Write every morning this week for at least 30 minutes. And by "writing", I mean any activity that will move an article, manuscript or grant proposal out the door.
If you remain resistant to daily writing, gently and patiently ask yourself: why?

I hope that this week brings you a long-term perspective on your academic career, relief that you don’t have to do everything all at once, and a sense of appreciation for all that you contribute to your campus by just being you!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

How to Log out from Skype accounts shared across other devices

How to log out from Skype on all devices?

May be you have your Skype account shared across several devices, and want to log out from all those except the one you want to use. 

Here's a simple method. I tested this in my PC and mobile device, so it works. 

Go to your device and log-in to your skype account (say your Mobile phone skype account). This is the device now you want to use and want to log out all the other devices Skype accounts (say your home-pc skype account, office-laptop skype account etc.). 

Go to any of the contact in your list and then go to your chat mode (basically go to your chat input). 

Enter this command and press enter. 


This will log out all your other Skype online accounts except the one you are currently entering this command. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sri Lankan girl Natalie Anderson wins the Survivor Season 29

About Natalie and Nadia: Natalie and Nadiya Anderson are twin sisters who were born and brought up in Sri Lanka but are American citizens who completed their secondary and tertiary education there. By the way, Natalie got a tattoo of Sri Lank sketch in her left hand. Best Sri Lankan ever!

After 39 days of battling the elements and competition in Nicaragua, Natalie Anderson walked away with the million dollar prize and the title of sole survivor on the finale of "Survivor: San Juan Del Sur" Wednesday night.

Anderson, Keith Nale, Jaclyn Schultz and mother-daughter duo Missy Payne and Baylor Wilson fought hard in the final immunity challenges, but it came down to Anderson, Schultz and Payne at the final tribal council. And after the jury's vote, host Jeff Probst announced 28-year-old Anderson as the winner at the "Blood vs. Water" reunion show.

Turns out, Probst has been a fan of Anderson's game, telling Entertainment Weekly before the finale, "I think Natalie’s big plan is that you have to do each thing at the right time and you have to have certain numbers at a certain point in the game, and then there’s a point where you can get rid of your nemesis." And that's what she did when she blindsided Schultz's boyfriend, Jon Misch, in last week's episode and set herself up for a path to success.

Runner-up Schultz had a good shot too, but Anderson definitely outwitted, outplayed and outlasted in the game.

Suddenlink Internet Speeds Increased for FREE

Got an email from Suddenlink! Wow they moved the 15Mbps speed to 50Mbps for free. Yay!

Dear Valued Customer,
As part of our "We Promise" Guarantee, we continue to make major investments in our communities to bring you the speed you need, now and into the future. As a valued customer, you are among the first to hear your Internet speeds are increasing for FREE. In many instances, speeds will double.

Internet - Speed IncreasesCurrent Speed (Mbps)New Speed (Mbps)Monthly
Allowance* (GB)
15.0 Mbps50.0 Mbps250 GB
To take advantage of this upgrade, simply power cycle your modem.
Unplug the power cord from your modem for one minute.
Reconnect the power cord.
Restart your computer and enjoy!

We hope you enjoy this free speed upgrade. Please call us at 844-790-7477 if you have any questions.

Thank you for choosing Suddenlink.

Friday, November 14, 2014

"The Voice" Season 7 - Final 4 Predictions

Most of my predictions for the 12 playoff contestants are spot on. I'm happy that most agree with these are the best right now. See my previous post "The Voice Winner Predictions before live playoffs"

OK. Here's my predictions for the final 4 from each team and "The Voice" 2014 Season 7 ultimate winner. This may be too early for the ultimate winner prediction, but here goes,

Team Blake: Craig Wayne Boyd
Team Adam:  Damien
Team Gwen:  Taylor John Williams
Team Pharrell : Luke Wade

I really like Luke and Craig they both have a very commanding stage presence. But whether they win or not depends on the song selection. But my bets are on the young "Taylor John" he seems very poise, talented and surprisingly haunting. So I think depends on how well Taylor handles his stage presence and song choice, he seems to win this season.

So my prediction: Team Gwen : Taylor John Williams to win the ultimate "The Voice" Season 7

Friday, October 24, 2014

"The Voice" Season 7 - Winner Predictions (Before live playoffs)

This years The Voice Season 7, there's no clear cut winners so far. I'm not exactly sure which contestant is the front runner from each team. The talent pool is not really good compared to first couple of seasons.

But, here you go. Some of my predictions for the possible winners,

I feel like Team Pharrell got some of better contestants, next Team Adam. But there's still the "Steals" available so this possibly make some team dynamics changed.

My predictions for the live playoffs,

Team Pharrell: Luke Wade, Elyjuh

Team Adam: Damien, Chris Jamison

Team Gwen: Taylor Jhon

Team Blake: James David, Griffin

Monday, August 11, 2014

Amex (American Express) get $20 back after you spend $40 or more at (deal ends on August 31, 2014)

First you need to add/enroll your Amex credit card for the payments. Then simply buy something worth of $40 or more from

Enjoy the deal till is valid by August 31, 2014

AAA Texas New Member Admission Fee Discount/Coupon

I recently purchased the AAA Texas  Classic membership for my cross-country drive from College Station to Wyoming. The membership for the classic is about $52 plus $20 for a new member admission fee.

If you are purchasing a new membership from AAA Texas, remember to give them a call first and check whether they can waive the new member admission fee. I was able to get a waiver for the new member fee and for automatic renewal they reduce another $4.

Its always good to ask before you buy online :) Enjoy.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

NFL Preseason and Regular Season Free Streaming Links

Wizwig TV got several links live for NFL preseason and regular season games.

Here's the link 

If you are a Johnny Football fan, should be excited about the start of this preseason. Fingers crossed tonight with Browns V Lions