My favorite part about Faculty Development has been learning about the innovations and great work going on across campus. I get to hear about new developments all the time, but I want you to share with the whole campus and region at the 2016 CELT conference. Don’t keep your idea a secret. Today’s tip is an encouragement to share your innovations. The submission deadline is on Friday, but submitting is easy. To get you started, I have a list of things I have heard about the past few years I would love to see at the conference.
- Team teaching including interdisciplinary education is something we talk about at meetings, but very few of us know how to do it well. Teach us!
- Are you utilizing a new technology? Faculty across campus are experimenting with Zoom video and finding their own open source software. Tell us about it!
- Who has had a great idea go bad? I once participated in a redesign that went almost nowhere and many of us have good ideas that don’t work. Share your failure with the group (I promise it is therapeutic)!
- Who is already working with the new University priorities on Civic Engagement and Diversity in their classroom? Enlighten us with your vision!
- Are you struggling with how to manage political conversations in your classroom? Put together a panel on teaching in a divisive election season!
- Got something to say on national controversies? Put together a few people with opposing ideas on affirmative action, campus speech codes, or reconciling institutional history with contemporary goals!
- Textbooks are getting more expensive every year. Tell us about how you found open source material or pieced together course readings out of available research!
- Do you work with graduate students or mentors? Share best practices with us!
- Is your classroom a dimly lit dungeon with chairs bolted to the floor? Put together a group on teaching in difficult spaces and places!
- Are you collaborating with Advising or Student Life and Leadership to improve learning? Tell us about how you are building bridges!
The CELT conference is a free opportunity to share your innovations and thoughts on critical campus and national issues. In 2015 we averaged 15 attendees per session and we are looking for even broader exposure this year. Last year I learned things about personal productivity from Dustin Bakkie and what it takes for students to turn around their education after struggling from Josh Whittinghill and students in EOP that have changed my behavior this year. Don’t miss your opportunity to make your voice heard. Submission takes a few minutes, but the lessons learned can last a lifetime.
Got feedback on this tip? Leave a comment or email it to us. Got an idea for a tip? Send it along.
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The most common refrain I hear on campus is: I wish CELT and Faculty Development would invade my life even more! Okay, so maybe no one has ever said this in the 130 year history of the University, but still, if you want even more teaching tips, download the Magna Publications “Teaching Professor Tips App.” You can set it to deliver a tip at a particular time and you can even contribute, best of all it is free! If Magna sounds familiar, they are the same people who offer our 20 minute mentor program that you can still take advantage of this year.
The App may be a good choice for you and it may not. This is actually part of a larger conversation about managing the information streams in your life. Earlier this year a colleague and I calculated the average faculty member receives 3.5 campus wide emails per day. This is on top of college, department, research group, conference, student, peer, and personal email. If you find yourself deleting every email from a discussion group you are a part of, take 20 seconds and unsubscribe or set up a filter to put all the email from your disciplinary list serve into a folder. If your Facebook or twitter feed is full of stuff you hate, take a minute and unfollow/hide those posts. Our lives are full of information, investing a few minutes in making the streams you use the most the most useful for you will be time well spent.
You’ve heard of running with scissors? At this point in the semester it can feel more like spinning with butter knives: So much activity, so few things actually completed. The relative of autonomy of faculty schedules is something we should be thankful for every day, but it can also make it challenging to distribute our energy to the right things in the right proportions. Having spent literally hours on a PowerPoint presentation for a single, not-that-complicated class session (thank you, Google Images), and then wondered why I never finished that grant application, I wear my own scarlet P for Procrastination, or maybe Prioritization-ineptitude.
Here are three tips for getting a grip on time management.
- Identify your biggest time vacuum and find a way to fix it. For instance, if each incoming e-mail chime is a Pavlovian stimulus, silence the alerts while you’re working on important tasks. Or try limiting your attention to e-mail to one or two blocks of time each day. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review calls this approach “e-mail budgeting” and offers good advice for how to make it work. Maybe your biggest time sink is, like mine, class prep. Try setting a time limit on that, too. When time is up, it’s time to teach, ready or not. Odds are, you really will be ready, even if the more perfect PowerPoint graphic has to wait for next semester’s iteration.
- Adopt a time management system. Options include David Allen’s massively popular Getting Things Done; the procrastination-targeting if unappealingly titled Eat That Frog, and The Five Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity, reviewed yesterday in The Chronicle of Higher Education. If you’re a fan of digital tools, you might like timing apps designed to maximize your focus on given projects like 30/30 and Tracking Time.
- Protect at least 15 minutes a day for the work that fuels your passion for your discipline. Truly, just 15 minutes. That’s the theory behind Laura Belcher’s Write Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks, currently in use by two faculty writing groups on campus, and it appears to be working. Whether it’s writing a book or article, developing a grant proposal or conference paper, or working on a project with disciplinary colleagues across the country, set aside inviolable blocks of time to attend to it, even if the longer blocks are few. Just opening the file every day will keep your head in the project and nourish this vital but easy-to-lose aspect of your professional identity.
* Authored by Dr. Katherine McCarthy.