Rethink Your Writing Time

Dear New Faculty,

This recent Tomorrow’s Professor post, Rethink Your Writing Time, provides advice on how to be productive in your writing as you also become increasingly busy with other aspects of your new position. I hope you find some of the tips to be useful to increase your own research productivity.

Best,
Shari

Rethink Your Writing Time

In last week’s Monday Motivator, I challenged each of you to create a Strategic Plan by identifying your goals for the term, mapping out how to achieve them, and committing specific weeks in your calendar to particular projects. If you haven’t created your strategic plan yet, you can click here and listen to our Every Semester Needs a Plan webinar to get yours started.

This week, I want to focus on how you can move from having a written Strategic Plan to actually executing it! Based on the findings of faculty development researchers, the answer is straightforward: Write every day for at least 30 minutes.

It sounds so easy, but for most academics, writing for at least 30 minutes every day is anything but simple. It is more difficult than it sounds because even though we KNOW that writing and publication are high priorities, we often BEHAVE as if writing is our lowest priority. In other words, despite knowing that writing is critical to our professional success, we often treat it as an optional activity. We “try to make time for it” at the end of the day or “hope to get to it” after everything else has been done and everyone else’s needs have been met. I want to make a radical suggestion this week: Let’s re-think our writing time by giving it the same weight in our schedule that it will have in our tenure review, promotion decision, and/or how we are valued on the job market.

To begin re-thinking your writing time, try an experiment this week by blocking out at least 30 minutes of each day for writing (Monday through Friday). In order to send a powerful message to yourself and the universe, go ahead and block that time out of your calendar the same way you would a meeting or a class. Then treat your writing time with the same respect and professionalism that you would extend to your colleagues or your students. That means your writing time is non-negotiable. Nothing else can happen during that time, and if anybody asks to schedule something during your writing time, the answer is: “Unfortunately, I’m not available at that time. I have a meeting.”

The Weekly Challenge 

This week, I challenge you to do the following:

  • Create a Strategic Plan (if you have not done so already).
  • Block out at least 30 minutes of time each day this week for writing. I mean literally write it in your calendar! If you are feeling bold, go ahead and block out your writing time for the entire term.
  • Treat your writing time with the same respect that you would a meeting with your colleagues or your students.
  • Show up at your computer during the writing time this week, and see what happens.
  • If you need support and accountability in developing your daily writing, join us in the Monthly Writing Challenge Discussion Forum.
  • If you find yourself unable or unwilling to do any of the above, gently and lovingly ask yourself: WHY?
  • If you want more help in developing a daily writing practice, consider reviewing our Core Curriculum Webinar: How to Develop a Daily Writing Practice.

I hope this week brings you the openness to re-think your writing time and the strength to aggressively, pro-actively, and even ruthlessly make time for writing every day. You deserve it!

Warmly,

Kerry Ann Rockquemore, PhD
Founder, National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity

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Supporting Student Success

By Susan Liebau, Asst Dean of Students & Director of the Waino Wahtera Center

As a faculty member, you have many opportunities in class, lab, office hours, and other places to engage with your students. When you find yourself in a situation where you feel a student may need additional direction or assistance, the Waino Wahtera Center for Student Success staff is happy to step in. We can meet and work directly with students on specific and/or underlying challenges and get them connected to other services on campus. 

The Wahtera Center houses a variety of programs and services that provide direction for transition and support for academic success at Michigan Tech. This includes Orientation and New Student Programs, success courses, Student Disability Services, the ExSEL and ExSEL Plus programs, peer-to-peer academic success coaching, and coordinated outreach to students at critical points in the semester (like midterm for first-year students) or who may be facing individual challenges at any time in the semester.

Academic success coaches work one-on-one with students on critical skills and habits that impact academic success, as well have discussions about balance and overall well-being. Coaches provide guidance on effective time management practices, help students develop or refine study habits, and generally are individual point people for helping students develop personal accountability.

The Center is a part of Student Affairs at Michigan Tech and has strong working relationships with areas on campus that are often critical for student success like Counseling Services, Student Financial Services, the Registrar and academic advisors. The physical Wahtera Center space is shared by the Dean of Students area so it is convenient for us to collaborate if a situation requires involvement from that area. You don’t need to have a full understanding of what a student is facing to encourage them to work with our office or for you to contact us to make a referral. Also, if you aren’t sure who to talk to about a student issue, we can assist. We are located on the first floor (130) of the Administration Building. Contact us at (906) 487-3558 or email success@mtu.edu.

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P&T Packet Preparation Session

The following materials were shared at the August 28. 2019 session.
P&T Packet Prep  | Presentation Slides | | Presentation Video |
Note that the first part of the session did not get recorded, but the information is in the presentation slides.
Digital Measures Faculty Activity Report | Presentation Slides | | Presentation Video |

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Internal Funding Opportunities – due in early October

Century II Campaign Endowed Equipment Fund (C2E2)

The Office of the Vice President for Research requests Century II Campaign Endowed Equipment Fund (C2E2) proposals. The program provides funds to purchase equipment that will have a broad, campus-wide impact and improve the lives of faculty, staff and students.

The submission deadline is 4 p.m. Oct. 17 (Thursday). Late submissions will not be accepted. For more information and proposal submission requirements, visit C2E2.

If you have any questions, please let me know!

Research Excellence Fund Proposals (REF)

Proposals are being solicited for the Research Excellence Fund (REF) program, an internal award of the Office of the Vice President for Research.

Proposals are due no later than 4 p.m. October 3 (Thursday) and must be submitted electronically per the guidelines. Any proposals that do not follow the guidelines will not be accepted for consideration.

For additional information, see Research Excellence Fund.

If you are interested in serving on an REF proposal review committee, email Natasha Chopp.

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Preparing Your Promotion Packet Session

The Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs will host a session, Preparing your Promotion Packet (Wednesday) August 28, from 1-4 p.m. in the MUB Alumni Lounge. The first half of the session (1:00-2:15) will focus on the mechanics of preparing a well-presented promotion and/or tenure packet and will include input from deans and insights from faculty members who have served on college-level P&T committees. The second half of the session (2:30-4:00) will focus on how to input data and narratives into Digital Measures to produce a complete Faculty Activity Report (FAR) for the P&T package.

All faculty are welcome; those who plan to submit a P&T package in the next couple of years are especially encouraged to attend as the Faculty Activity Report (Tenure and Promotion) is required as part of the promotion packet. Faculty may attend just one part of the session as their schedule allows.

Please complete this Google form by August 23 to register.

Shari Stockero, Assistant to the Provost for Faculty Development

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Delivering Excellent Course Content

Dear New Faculty and ECM-ers,
This Tomorrow’s Professor post, “Delivering Excellent Course Content from the Outset: Guiding Graduate Students and Young College Faculty through the Process of First‐Time Teaching” is highly relevant as you begin your careers and begin teaching a new class.  I hope you find it a valuable read with nuggets to include in your own teaching.

Best Regards,
Adrienne

Delivering Excellent Course Content from the Outset:
Guiding Graduate Students and Young College Faculty through the Process of First‐Time Teaching

Fantasy

So far, you have done a job. After several years of graduate school, your department has given you an opportunity to teach your very own college‐level course! Dig, if you will, this picture: your imagination in overdrive, you see yourself performing captivating oratories on every subject within your academic discipline. No one doubts the almost magical synergy between you and your eager students. They hang on your every word, applaud your insightful and witty comments, and commend you on exam day for a superbly crafted test that challenged their mastery of the material. Perhaps you even remind yourself of the scene from Dead Poets Society where students climb on desks to address “O Captain! My Captain!” Soon this will be you.

Reality

Now come back to reality. Teaching a college‐level class is no easy task. It requires a great deal of work and preparation just to organize a decent course, let alone make one that will have a lasting impression on students. Are you up to the challenge? Based on my years of experience in the classroom, here is a very brief guide to teaching your first college course. The advice is organized around the themes of first‐day issues, preparation, and balancing teaching and research.

The First Day

Maybe you are the type of individual who receives an offer to teach and begins preparing months ahead of time. If you are not this person, try to be. You will experience a noticeable increase in anxiety as the course changes from being weeks away to being days away. Assuming you have dealt with all the administrative issues, such as picking out a textbook and organizing a syllabus, your first challenge will be getting through the first day. There is no substitute for being organized and confident for that occasion. Being prepared means having a well‐detailed, understandable syllabus and a plan of action. Your first moments are important for setting the tone for the rest of the course.

You might not get through much material other than some introductions and a review of the syllabus. That is OK. There are two things I try to accomplish more than anything else on the first day: (1) impress upon the class how much I want to be there because I enjoy teaching and (2) demonstrate how dazzling the class will be for them. One thing I like to do is provide a glimpse into the future by selecting a few examples of the most intriguing topics and briefly exploring them. If you are successful, both you and your students will walk away from the first day feeling very positive about the course and excited for the rest of the semester.

Preparation

We have all experienced good and bad teaching. Set your sights on being a good teacher while you are still early in your career. The best piece of advice I can give is, do not leave class preparation until the night before. As a graduate student, this might seem impossible, but make it a goal. The confidence and energy that comes with being prepared will lead to positive outcomes in the future.

Depending on class size, course content, and available technology, you will have to make choices about which strategies best fit your personality. Will you rely heavily on PowerPoint presentations? Or will you express a general bias toward minimalism? I suggest starting out simply, concentrating more on what you will be saying instead of spending time developing elaborate media presentations. In addition to impinging on your preparation time, you might find yourself depending too much on visual displays in class. An environment in which material is simply being read to the class often creates depressed, unfocused students.

Do not be afraid to borrow instructional styles from effective teachers from your past. A professor once told me your teaching style does not have to be completely invented by you. It is the combination of all the positive relationships with teachers you have had in the past. Think about these people and draw from them. Be sure to consult with others in your department who have taught the course in the past. They will prove an invaluable source for syllabus help, exam construction, and classroom activities.

Balancing Teaching and Research

Do not quit your day job! You are in graduate school to learn and do many things. Teaching might be one. At the same time, you are expected to be a productive researcher. All humans, including graduate students, face decisions about how to focus valuable time and energy. If you are fortunate enough to get the opportunity to teach a course in graduate school, you will wrestle with the trade‐off between teaching and research.

Do not focus all your time on teaching. It is easy to get caught up in the enthusiasm of developing courses and finding new ways to engage students. If your teaching and research interests overlap, think about possibly combining the two. Students like to hear about the latest research, especially work that is coming from their own school. This way, your time spent doing good research can be parlayed into effective learning and discussion in the classroom.

Conclusion

If you have never taught before, how do you know you will love it and the class will too? Well, you do not know. But you are about to find out. If you are like me, you will want your initial attempt at teaching to be great and will not be happy if your students think the class is anything less than stellar. This is the only time in your life when you will be a “first‐time teacher.” Remember, nobody expects you to have a problem‐free semester, so do not expect this yourself. If things fail to go well the first time around, rest assured that they will only improve. The best way to have an effective and enjoyable semester is to plan ahead as much as possible. Students will get more out of the course and you will have less stress. Before you know it, your class will be thanking you for a great semester.

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Technology Resources at Michigan Tech

By Joshua Olson, Chief Information Officer

IT Funded Software software requests

Software is a fundamental tool for research and teaching by faculty. Making decisions about which software to fund can be challenging and have a range of impacts. The IT Governance Committee has developed a process for determining the best use of its future software funding. This takes the form of an IT grant process conducted each fall semester.  The deadline for software applications is November 1. The software is available for research and teaching for the following academic year (August).

If you’d like more information about the software request process, please contact us at it-help@mtu.edu or call 906-487-1111.

Classroom A/V technology

Michigan Tech has over 40 classrooms equipped with instructional technology such as computers, projectors, lecture capture, and document imaging tools. We also maintain all lab computers on campus, as well as the PCs used for instruction in classrooms.

If you need help with the teaching technology in a classroom, you can reach us from the phone at the podium in each classroom by dialing 7-1111 for a classroom support specialist. Our staff can quickly respond even during your class. We also have staff available if you need help or training with any of the classroom technology tools.

Google for Education

Michigan Tech is a Google for Education institution. With your Michigan Tech account, you have access to the entire suite of Google applications, including unlimited storage space on Google Drive. For file storage and backup, Google offers two options: Google Drive Backup and Sync and Google Drive Filestream.

Though both of these options are available directly from Google, Google Drive File stream is also available in the Software Center (Windows) and Self-Service (Mac OS) for university machines. If you would like help, please contact us and we can assist with setup.

Research computing support

Michigan Tech IT supports research computing, both Michigan Tech’s High Performance Computing (HPC)—Superior and Portage clusters—as well as non-HPC research computing, which includes individualized support for faculty research computing needs. For more information or to put in a research computing request, email IT at it-help@mtu.edu or call us at 906-487-1111.

We can help

  • Our support center is a searchable, online resource for finding answers to common IT issues.
  • If you’d rather speak to someone in person, we have staff at the Library and IT Service Center in the Van Pelt and Opie Library, Mon-Fri from 8am – 5pm. You can also reach an IT staff member during normal business hours 906-487-1111 or email it-help@mtu.edu.
  • The Michigan Tech IT website has information on the services we provide, as well as our staff listing.
  • We are happy to work with new faculty before they arrive on campus as well.

We’re on social media, too. Michigan Tech IT is on [Facebook], [Twitter], and [Instagram].

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4 Ways to Teach Your Kids About Work (Without Adding More to Your Plate)

by Sabina Nawaz*

As a leader, you probably juggle many things at work and at home. You’re not alone. Most executives I coach struggle with balancing parenting and work duties. They worry that they aren’t spending enough time with their children, and they’d like to help their children learn from their experience and avoid mistakes they’ve made.

What if you could maximize your time by making progress on work challenges while spending time with your children and helping them learn important skills in the process? Given my own challenges with balancing multiple priorities, I’ve learned a few ways to make the most of my time with both work and family, and I’ve shared these tips with my clients, many of whom have adopted similar practices. And the tips don’t take any additional time. In fact, you can increase time with your children without losing work time or adding more to your already full plate. By doing things a bit differently, you benefit your task list, your children, and yourself.

Here are four ways you can spend time with your kids while getting work done and teaching them important lessons along the way.

Practice time management together. One of your primary jobs as an executive is to anticipate the future and set a course to achieve success. This often takes concentrated time, away from the demands of back-to-back meetings. Many executives I coach take two hours a week to create white space. But unless you plan well in advance, it’s hard to find two hours of contiguous time each week.

Starting when he was eight years old, my older son would sit down with me once a quarter and help me block out white-space time for the next quarter. We would also block out time for vacations, shows, and volunteering. Because we carve out this time together, it helps me maintain a stronger boundary for family time. By helping me, my son appreciates the variety of my job responsibilities, not just what he sees from videos of my keynote talks. He’s also learned how to plan ahead to create balance and dedicate time to think strategically, and he’s picked up some other time management tricks. As a result, he creates time blocks on his calendar to ensure he has enough time for large projects that can’t be done in one sitting. It has reduced the amount of last-minute drama in our household.

Teach leadership ideas through reading. Harry Truman once said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” I’m much better at reading lots of books than at remembering lots of information from those books. Therefore, as I read each book, I tag passages that I’d like to go back to later. My sons compile all the tagged sections into one document. They curate my notes because I pay them, but you can also involve your kids by creating a game or competition such as answering trivia questions from the books at the dinner table. After all, these aren’t books they’d willingly pick up. Not only does this save me time and help me retain what I’ve read, but it also teaches my children at an early age about leadership topics from expert authors. Yesterday our dinner table conversation included the benefits of having mirror neurons and showing empathy when we want to improve our influence skills. It was a direct outcome of the book one of my sons is currently working on.

Explore values through discussing real-life dilemmas. Last month I struggled with a situation at work in which, if I acted according to my values, I would risk losing a large percentage of my revenue. It would be easy to pretend with my children that everything was business as usual. However, it wasn’t easy on my sleep. As I struggled with what to do, my husband and I discussed the dilemma (while protecting confidential information) with our boys. We laid out the situation, which values it was violating, and the potential risks of upholding my values. It was a difficult choice, but I decided to act in favor of my values.

I’d forgotten about the event until my older son said to me the other day, “Mom, I want to have integrity in how I talk to my science fair partner.” Curious, I asked, “What does integrity mean to you?” and was surprised to hear him remind me, “Mom, you always say integrity is doing the right thing when nobody is looking.” Having an open discussion about a work struggle benefited my son in a way I hadn’t anticipated.

Help children learn to frame problems in multiple ways. A common way that my coaching clients struggle is when they make assumptions about their adversary’s motivations during an interpersonal conflict and choose destructive actions based on that one conclusion. For example, Raymond, a tech executive, was recently convinced that his peer Jay wanted to discredit him and take over his team. Raymond jumped to this conclusion because Jay had interrupted during his presentation about his new project in front of the CEO. Rather than assume the worst of Jay, I told Raymond, he should lean into his natural tendency for storytelling and create not one but three separate stories about what Jay’s motivations could be. Raymond’s alternative stories were that perhaps Jay was very excited by Raymond’s idea and wanted to add his own ideas to it, or that Jay was less aware of interpersonal interactions and was someone who tended to interrupt others as well. This allowed Raymond to confront his assumptions and examine other possibilities.

You can share this tactic with your children as a game my family calls Multiple Meanings. We take turns creating stories from observations of people and events on trips to and from school. For example, if we see a man walking rapidly on the sidewalk with tattooed arms and a sleeveless vest, we might make up a story that he’s late for work because his car broke down, so he’s walking fast to get help. Maybe he owns a tattoo parlor across the bridge and is a walking advertisement for his business. Or maybe he’s meeting someone in the park and is running late. Our children then use the skill when they’re upset about something at home or at school. This is especially helpful when my sons argue and come to me for mediation. To reduce the heat in the conflict, I ask: “What other meanings can you make about why your brother borrowed your Lego airplane?” The goal is to be able to calm themselves down and be more empathetic, so they approach someone else with curiosity instead of judgment.

We spend a lot of our waking hours working. We also invest a lot in educating our children on academic subjects, physical activities, and the arts. But we treat these two activities separately. By involving our children in our work activities, we can teach our children key skills from our own experience, while maintaining quality time both at work and at home.

*Sabina Nawaz is a global CEO coach, leadership keynote speaker, and writer working in over 26 countries. She advises C-level executives in Fortune 500 corporations, government agencies, non-profits, and academic organizations. Sabina has spoken at hundreds of seminars, events, and conferences including TEDx and has written for FastCompany.comInc.com, and Forbes.com, in addition to HBR.org. Follow her on Twitter.

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The Conference Notebook – A tool to help you get more out of the professional conferences you attend.

By Amy Strage, PhD  San José State University

Excerpted text: “A word about the purpose of this workbook.  Over the years, I have had the opportunity to attend many, many professional conferences.  In some instances, I contributed to the formal program in some way.  In others, I had the good fortune to just be there just to learn.  In virtually every instance, I did my best to immerse myself in the moment, attending sessions, engaging in animated and thoughtful conversation, taking notes, collecting business cards and handouts.  But all too often, the conference “high” dissipated quickly as I returned to business-as-usual.  As I look back, one thing is quite clear: regardless of my role or responsibilities at the gathering, I benefitted much more from the experience when I had (read “made”) the time to prepare and follow through.  Isn’t this exactly what we encourage our students to do, to get the most out of their educational opportunities?
Main advice provided (I recommend reading the whole posting for full benefit):
I – To ensure that you get the most out of the conference, PREPARE, DO YOUR HOMEWORK, AND BE INTENTIONAL… “Short exercises in advance of the conference
II – To ensure that you get the most out of the conference, REACH OUT… DON’T BE SHY NETWORK …” Structure to identify key contacts

III – To ensure that you get the most out of the conference, REFLECT AND FOLLOW THROUGH…” Structure to align intent with follow up
Thank You Note (You’ve probably already thought to do this, but in case it’s slipped your mind…)
Happy Conferencing and Networking!

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