If you, like me, tend to pace when you’re teaching then, you, like me, may have wondered how much walking you actually do during class. The other day I realized that my phone has some fitness tracking tools so I decided to find out. Keep in mind that the day I measured my classroom walking was actually a best-case scenario for this activity, since it involved my students working on group projects while I walked around the room and answered questions. While my typical pacing may cover a range of 10-20 feet at the front of a classroom, then, on this day I was untethered, able to walk around for 75 minutes. Am I getting a ton of exercise by pacing at the front of the room?
No. No, I am not. On this “best-case” day I took a total of 264 steps while in the classroom. 264! That is nothing! I assumed that I took 264 steps to walk down the hallway to the bathroom. How many miles did I walk during this time? .11. The previous sentence is 11 being hugged by two periods. It is being hugged because it is so sad about how little distance I actually walk in class. I was expecting results that numbered in miles, not tenths of miles!
There are two things that I have learned from this experience. The first is that teaching does not count as exercise, even if it gets me on my feet once or twice a day. The second is that my perceptions of the amount of walking one can do in a classroom was horribly inaccurate. I suppose that it is better to know that I should not count teaching as my daily exercise, but I will miss the illusion that I am walking miles everyday just by pacing.
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Posted in A Sporting Chance, Teaching Tricks | Tagged Exercise in the Classroom, Memoirs of a SLACer, Pedometers, Teaching Exercise |
To the faculty of Sweet Briar College, behold the four-page list of job requirements for a full-time Assistant Professor of History at Lansing Community College. (Don’t worry, it isn’t just the humanities – the requirements for their other positions contain most of the same ridiculous language.) If you don’t have time to open the linked PDF document, check out the required Professional Qualities and Abilities from page four:
- Serves as a role model of good written and oral communication skills and good time management skills.
- Possesses a positive attitude; able to see good in self and others.
- Shows flexibility including the acceptance of and willingness to change; sees change as an opportunity for growth.
- Seeks improvement over time by taking risks and trying new things.
- Knows and acknowledges personal limits.
- Displays self-discipline and a strong work ethic.
- Accepts responsibility for professional and personal growth.
- Demonstrates commitment to be a productive and supportive member of the college community.
- Successfully organizes, executes and follows up on projects; sets specific objectives and measures to achieve results.
- Accepts criticism gracefully and uses it as an opportunity for growth.
- Handles conflict effectively.
- Inspires others; sets an example of professionalism both within the college and the community.
- Leads and/or follows as circumstances require.
These are real requirements for a real job, not something made up by The Onion. I think that my favorite is the last one. Combined with the other requirements, they are essentially saying, “we want the perfect faculty member, who knows what to do in all situations and, in the event that we decide that they are not doing the right things, knows that they were wrong and quickly starts doing what we say to do instead.”
While some of these are just ridiculous, I’m more concerned by the fact that institutions feel the need to spell these things out in a job ad rather than communicating them through mentoring, at orientation, etc. Attending commencement, for example, is probably expected at many institutions, but it seems that LCC expects a situation to arise where a faculty member says “Oh, I didn’t attend commencement because it wasn’t in my job requirements,” so they put it in the job requirements. College students typically complain about faculty treating them like high schoolers. Nothing good can come of treating the faculty that way.
“Like” Memoirs of a SLACer on Facebook to receive updates and links via your news feed. Posts like this, of course, may not be what the faculty of Sweet Briar College have in mind.
Posted in Job Market, The Ivory Tower | Tagged Academic Job Market, Lansing Community College, Leading and/or Following, Memoirs of a SLACer, Sweet Briar College | 1 Comment »
As I’ve noted before, as a tenure-track professor it can be very difficult to maintain a publication record that is higher than necessary for your institution. Whatever your own goals, the expectations of your institution are probably adjusted to account for teaching and service loads but the norms of your colleagues can also affect your productivity. Years ago, I noted that in the current academic climate of budget cuts publications are not only necessary for tenure and promotion but are also necessary to allow you to get another job if something happens to your current one. Of course, publishing more than you need to is easier said than done.
With the recent news of Sweet Briar College’s closing, a lot of faculty members are finding themselves in this position. As noted in The Atlantic:
Mid-career faculty at the school, including many revered professors who’ve devoted their lives to education, will likely have a tough time finding similar positions at other college institutions. As many higher-education experts will attest (and as I have witnessed in my own experience), these institutions typically prefer to hire junior faculty who have well-adorned resumes and are fresh out of prestigious graduate schools but are less expensive and willing to commit to a job for decades. With what are often hundreds of applicants for every opening, schools can be picky.
One faculty member was close to tenure and feeling confident. Now she is faced with starting over (as are the college’s staff members). Good luck to the faculty and staff of Sweet Briar College and to everybody else who will find themselves in similar situations in the coming months and years.
“Like” Memoirs of a SLACer on Facebook to receive updates and links via your news feed. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any job openings.
Posted in The Ivory Tower, The Publication Gauntlet | Tagged Academic Jobs, Memoirs of a SLACer, Publish or Perish, Sweet Briar College, The Atlantic | 1 Comment »