Coaching is a relatively new field. For some time, executives have had coaches to help them optimize their performance in the workplace. Academics, on the other hand, have had to rely on themselves, mentors, or peers. Unfortunately, though, academia can be a lonely place. It is sometimes difficult to find someone who is available, knowledgeable, unbiased, experienced and even intelligent enough to help the academic with current ventures and future goals.

This is where coaching comes in. Coaches work over the phone, allowing maximum flexibility for scheduling, and access to coaching from anywhere in the world. Here are some of the benefits of working with a coach.

  • You will be able to finish projects sooner.
  • You will overcome “writer’s block.”
  • You will advance your career.
  • You will clarify your goals, both large and small.
  • You will be manage your time better.
  • You will be more organized.
  • You will be more efficient.
  • You will no longer drop the ball on the many projects you are juggling.
  • You will feel less isolated.
  • Your confidence will increase.

There are many other benefits of working with a coach. Many “All But Dissertation” graduate students have benefited from coaching by finishing their theses sooner than they thought they could. Recently, even graduate students earlier in their career have sought coaching so that they could be better prepared for comprehensive exams and writing their dissertation.

Tenure coaching is an even newer concept, although it is a sorely needed service. Most new professors are isolated and overwhelmed, having barely recovered from the grueling process of finiahing and defending their dissertation and job hunting. Coaching can help them get off to a good start in their quest for tenure.

Categories: Faculty, Grad School

Unless you have some open and trusting colleagues, you may not be aware of how hard it is for other new faculty. It’s important that you know how difficult the first few years are, so you don’t wonder what’s wrong with you (that’s all you need — more reasons to beat yourself up!)

Here are some reasons that it is so hard to be a junior professor. I’m sure you know them, but if might feel good to have them spelled out for you!

  • You might still be working on your dissertation. This is true of many of my clients, particularly those in visiting professor or adjunct positions. Without good work habits, you may become totally overwhelmed.
  • You are probably teaching three to five classes (yes, five — one of my clients just taught 5 classes for each of two semesters, while working on her dissertation. Often you have not taught at least one of these classes.
  • You have just moved to a new community and had to find housing. If you have a family, the stress is even more extreme. Even if you are delighted with your new location, this raises the level of stress enormously.
  • You may feel isolated. If your new institution does not go out of your way to give you orientation, mentoring, and some breaks in your teaching schedule, you can be too busy to connect with others.
  • Other new professors don’t share their difficulties. Everyone is trying desperately to look like they know what they are doing. This increases the sense of isolation.
  • So much time is spent on teaching that you find you don’t have enough time to start your research or to write up your dissertation. In the second and third year of a tenure track position it will really weigh on you if you haven’t been publishing enough. Publication is the most important accomplishment that will be looked at in your tenure review.
  • Departmental politics start to become more clear. This can be confusing at best, and often frustrating or annoying. It’s sometimes hard to navigate these waters.
  • Meetings. You will long for some of that luxurious time that you (might have) had as a graduate student.

Of course, there is much more, and individual situations vary enormously. Be sure to read my newsletters and articles on this subject. As always, I am open to any suggestions, so email me at Gina@AcademicLadder.com if you have any comments or additions to my list. And congratulations on your job!

Category: Faculty

This is an important topic, and one that I have addressed in many of my newsletter articles. Many new professors spend too much time in preparation, and don’t necessarily produce the best lessons.

Here are some very quick pointers to make things easier on yourself. This is just a starter, since volumes have been written on this topic. I see my role as being aware of the literature and giving you tips in a palatable, manageable format that can lead to action steps.

Allow more time in your classes, even your lectures, for interactions with the students. Get them to answer questions, role play, debate, etc.
Allow pauses in your lecturing. Give your students a chance to catch up in their notes, to take in what you’re saying. When you ask if there are any questions, allow a longer pause than you are comfortable.
• Don’t overprepare for your classes. It’s ok for your students to know that you don’t know everything. They will actually respect you more for being real.
Don’t read your notes. That is so boring. Remember hating that when you were an undergrad?
• Don’t try to cram every scrap of information into each class, going faster and fast as you see you’re running out of time. This just annoys students and makes it unlikely that they will take the information in.
Don’t squeeze all the information you didn’t give them into the last few classes of the semester. Plan ahead and use the last few classes for clarifying and review, if possible. After all, your goal is for your students to learn and retain the information.

This bunch of tips just scratches the surface of changes you can make in your teaching techniques. Read my newsletter and get hints that you can use to help you do a better job with more ease.

Category: Faculty

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