A year ago I was wrestling with a large roll of orange bubble wrap and a faulty tape dispenser as my partner and I prepared to relocate from Connecticut to Nebraska. We had been living in our quiet corner of New England long enough to gain a large circle of friends but we knew absolutely no one in the Midwest. I was also wrestling with syllabi, assignment prompts, and textbook orders as I braced myself for the teaching load at my new institution. The scale of my professional life was about to shift drastically as I transitioned from teaching a few sections of composition as a graduate student at a large public university to developing three different literature courses per semester as an assistant professor at a small liberal arts college. Many of us will meet similar professional and personal challenges as junior faculty: as I reflect on my experiences, I hope that some of the strategies I have relied on will also prove useful to you. Specifically, this post will suggest possible approaches to handling course preparation as a new faculty member and re-building your social life in an unfamiliar environment. Continue reading
(Originally published here on Inside Higher Ed.)
Dear department chairs and college deans,
Will new faculty members join your institution this fall? If so, you can do a handful of things that will help them transition. Much of the burden of figuring it out will fall squarely on them, but an accommodating and hospitable environment will not only help new faculty slide into their jobs effectively but will also ultimately better serve everyone. This is especially true if those individuals are first-time faculty members. Continue reading
As educators, we often lament the quality of our students’ writing and ponder how we might support their writing development. To that end, I recently attended an interdisciplinary pedagogical conference themed around improving student writing. One of the conference’s main objectives was to remind all of us, regardless of field, that students need our help with their writing and that we cannot burden English departments with the sole responsibility for shaping it.
The research and presentations were geared toward student writing, but I started to ask myself why I couldn’t also heed some of those lessons and be my own writing coach. Why had I failed to see that so many of the tools I use as an educator could transfer neatly to my own writing? Continue reading
Original Inside Higher Ed article can be found here.
When it comes to academic conferences, it seems most of us belong to one of two groups. The first is the research poster group, which has conversations with other scholars with the help of a visual aid. The second is the panel of papers group, where each panelist prepares a 20- to 25-minute presentation and then a discussant or moderator takes questions from the audience.
My research and my field generally belong to the latter group. Until very recently, I have ascribed to the common practice of writing an eight-page paper and simply reading it for the attendees. But that all changed a couple of months ago. Continue reading
Thrilled to announce that @jenheemstra invited me to be a part of her “Carrier Barriers” blog series. Follow the hyperlink above to her blog, or check out the full content below. Thanks Jen! Hope to collaborate with you more in the future.
Thinking About Employment in Graduate School.
I’ll confess to you that I arrived to the first semester of my graduate school career totally unconcerned about my future employment prospects – no one had warned me that the Humanities were in “crisis” or that landing a job post-PhD could be an arduous task. You can imagine, then, my shock when a unit of my cohort’s “Intro to Graduate Studies” class was themed around the death of the profession I thought I’d one day join. I’ll never forget fighting back tears as a faculty member in my field told me briskly that I didn’t have a prayer of getting a job in my field. In many ways, my dreams of finding healthy employment at an institution (like the R1 I had attended for undergrad) crashed before they ever took off. Continue reading
Job market season is in full swing as hopeful candidates find out whether the applications they poured their hearts into will get them first round interviews and whether those interviews will produce campus visits. I applied to a handful of jobs this year…I think eight total…and heard within the last 48 hours that I’ve been invited for a Skype interview at two of those institutions. The idea of preparing for a Skype interview sent me reeling as I began to entertain mentally the work that would go into getting ready to entertain a room full of strangers via a digital platform. That, in turn, caused me to reflect on prior experiences interviewing…some of them great and others horrifying. Continue reading
The research and writing on what we know as impostor syndrome abounds, and with good reason. People from every walk of life experience it and it’s nearly impossible to get through grad school without the myriad of questions inspired by self-doubt: what happens if my advisor realizes I’m way less experienced and/or well-read than everyone else in my cohort?; am I going to disappoint my advisor with my lack of abilities?; I can’t believe everyone can have such informed opinions on Roland Barthes…why am I just now hearing of him?
Most of those questions are prompted by a lack of self-confidence brought on by comparing oneself to a host of high-achieving, accomplished peers. I think most graduate students are reticent to tackle impostor syndrome head on, because they’re hopeful that it will just slowly dissipate. (At least, that’s how I felt.) I know I was DEFINITELY hopeful that it was a sensation that would stay contained within my graduate school career. But recently I had an experience that caused it to come roaring back. My first thought upon realizing it was back… “Great, now I get to deal with the assistant professor version of this arduous mental health challenge.” Continue reading