Because the tenure process is nearly as mysterious as the job market, I am glad that my institution provides feedback at multiple points along the way. Specifically, I have a two-year review, a four-year review, and the tenure review. Because these reviews occur at the end of the specified years, candidates turn in their materials roughly half a semester early, which results in the recent submission of files for my two-year review.
While I appreciate feedback, the idea of turning in materials for a two-year review is strange to me on multiple levels. In one way, I feel like I have just started and can’t possibly be nearing the end of my second year. In another way, I feel like the process of distilling my accomplishments over the past year and a half down to a series of papers, syllabi, evaluations, and bulleted lists borders on homeopathy. Like homeopathy, I wonder how much effect the original substance can possibly have on the diluted result. Does a syllabus say much about the experience of creating and teaching a course?
In addition to a three-ring binder, the tenure and promotion committee will receive evaluations of my teaching from four faculty members, each of whom observed roughly one class session of my teaching. I have similar questions about the effectiveness of these evaluations as a gauge of a student’s classroom experience. In response to my recent workload, I would tell myself to take it easy if I were on the T&P committee. It will be interesting to hear their actual responses, which I will surely try to distill down to a blog post.