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Author Topic: The CHE STFU Center for Professional Development  (Read 182968 times)
larryc
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« Reply #285 on: February 19, 2012, 1:08:02 AM »

Dear Ms. STFU,
I believe the direction to STFU still applies after tenure if speaking up would accomplish nothing (except getting someone mad), but I'm still struggling to do so.  Difficult Colleague is being so difficult that I keep slipping up and pointing it out.  Suggestions?
DE

Miss STFU approves of your general principle of saving ones breath in the face of unconquerable ignorance. Generally. In this case, however, she fears you might be denying yourself one of the few actual pleasures of tenure.

Lol. Lovely, as always, Miss STFU. I never thought of it as being a pleasure before. I will try to view it that way in our next meeting...after a preparatory analgesic for the shouting that's sure to ensue.

It is only a match if you shout back. Otherwise it is your colleague acting like a lunatic.
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dr_evil
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« Reply #286 on: February 19, 2012, 12:35:14 PM »

Lol. Lovely, as always, Miss STFU. I never thought of it as being a pleasure before. I will try to view it that way in our next meeting...after a preparatory analgesic for the shouting that's sure to ensue.

It is only a match if you shout back. Otherwise it is your colleague acting like a lunatic.

I do not plan on shouting back, but I may have to be louder than normal just to be heard. Making faces does have an appeal. I don't understand why some others even listen when the colleague is being difficult.
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oldfullprof
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« Reply #287 on: February 19, 2012, 6:32:08 PM »

Carry a pellet pistol to work.  When your enemy whips around, shocked at the sting on hu's neck, mention something about Africanized bees.
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dr_evil
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« Reply #288 on: February 20, 2012, 5:02:45 PM »

Carry a pellet pistol to work.  When your enemy whips around, shocked at the sting on hu's neck, mention something about Africanized bees.

LOL! It would be living up to my name, wouldn't it?  You are not helping me resist temptation, but I shall resist.
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dr_evil
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« Reply #289 on: March 04, 2012, 2:07:02 PM »

Sorry it's been so long to provide an update, but I thought I should let everyone know that I survived the meeting.  I mostly ignored the difficult person, even made it obvious to not look at this person.  It felt childish, but right.  I was vocal about the important things, just ignored the rants.  It still got me worked up enough that I had trouble sleeping that night, but a bit of alcohol helped.  

I'm still not quite free and clear, as I know a lot of these things will come up again, but I want to thank the forum for its advice, the humorous and the serious.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2012, 2:07:31 PM by dr_evil » Logged

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forksandspoons
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« Reply #290 on: March 04, 2012, 6:44:32 PM »

I thought I was doing a good job with the STFU. Then, as my future tenure became more of a sure thing, I said something and ... it is obvious that I am not as good at STFU as I thought I was. However, I am also fairly certain that my indiscretion in expressing myself, which irritated a colleague, will not impact my tenure. However, it is also clear that my input is not appreciated ("advisory committee", as it turns out, something of a misnomer when they don't want advice) and so..back to STFU?
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larryc
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« Reply #291 on: March 04, 2012, 7:21:01 PM »

DearForksandSpoons:

As a friend of Miss STFU recently discovered in the most unpleasant fashion, tenure is never a sure thing. Never.

Once you are tenured, STFU becomes a choice rather than an imperative, but it is usually the right choice. Particularly when it has already been made clear to you that your colleagues want you to STFU. When deciding to speak up the question is never "Am I right?" but rather "What good could result from speaking out here?" Another good question: "Is my input really necessary here?"

So yes, back to STFU for now, and reevaluate when tenured.

Miss STFU
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scatmanblues
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« Reply #292 on: March 06, 2012, 4:04:08 PM »

Dear Miss STFU,

I am learning the ways of STFU during this first year on the TT, but I have been confronted with a frustrating situation, and need either the collective fora wisdom, or just the re-affirmation to STFU.

I have been assigned to teach an online-only graduate level course in a professional certification sequence.  It is the most important of the required courses, and the material covered appears in a large percentage of the questions on the national certification exam students will have to take if they pursue a career in the field. 

My department has an "admit them all and let them fail after we've taken a few semesters of their tuition dollars" approach to screening potential students, and this course has traditionally had a 10-15% failure rate as it is the first "hard" course in the sequence.  I am using the exact course structure given to me by one of the tenured faculty members, but have added some components to increase class participation and provide detailed feedback.  Students are universally appreciative of the added components, but are complaining to other faculty members that the class is too hard and takes too much time. 

I was approached today in a committee meeting and essentially told that the students were not happy.  When I asked why, I was told I am requiring too much work from busy people.  I explained that I structured the activities under the assumption that students would be spending 9-12 hours a week on course materials -as per requirements.  Said full professor claimed to know of no such requirements, and suggested that these are busy people with lives, and I should expect no more than 5 hours a week from them -FOR A GRADUATE LEVEL CLASS!  Said conversation occurred in front of 3 other tenured faculty members, all of whom murmured agreement of some kind.

I did, in fact STFU.  I thanked him for the heads up and for giving me some perspective on dept. expectations.  But now I am both stewing and concerned.

My professional certification carries a code of ethics that requires me to both use effective classroom procedures, and also to provide thorough training to prepare students to pass the national exam.  The students are barely competent to do so with the somewhat meager workload I am assigning now.  5 hours a week would destroy their chances to actually learn the material well enough to pass the exam.

Scaling back the course would surely make my life, and the student's lives, easier in the short term.  I would have less grading to do, and my teaching evaluations would absolutely go up (and I'm in a place where the number matters more than the context).  It would also, however, be doing the students a huge disservice if they come out of said watered-down course believing they have a chance in h^ll of passing that certification exam at the end of the course sequence.

Help.....

Scatmanblues
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polly_mer
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Have you worked on that project today?


« Reply #293 on: March 06, 2012, 6:03:46 PM »

Dear Scatmanblues,

Have you considered going back on the market this year?

OK, OK, that's not what you want to hear.  Go find yourself a mentor in the department and ask some gentle questions about how your very busy students manage to study and pass the certification exam since you've been told that students shouldn't be studying more than 5 hours a week.  Perhaps there's a program about which you don't know or perhaps, Dr. Loudmouth is frequently ignored in private, but never challenged in public on his pet issue.

Good luck,

Miss STFU-in-training
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larryc
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« Reply #294 on: March 06, 2012, 6:06:38 PM »

Dear Scatman:

First, allow me to congratulate you:

I did, in fact STFU.  I thanked him for the heads up and for giving me some perspective on dept. expectations.

Miss STFU awards you a gold star. Thanking them was a politic touch.

I was told I am requiring too much work from busy people . . . Said full professor . . . suggested that these are busy people with lives, and I should expect no more than 5 hours a week . . .
Scaling back the course would surely make my life, and the student's lives, easier in the short term . . . my teaching evaluations would absolutely go up (and I'm in a place where the number matters more than the context). 

You are untenured. Your senior colleagues have approached you as a group and in public and asked you to change the content of your course. There really isn't anything to think about here, you change the course.

My professional certification carries a code of ethics that requires me to both use effective classroom procedures, and also to provide thorough training to prepare students to pass the national exam. 

Perhaps your professional certification code of ethics would like to go up for tenure?  Miss STFU has been told that paper is a good insulator, perhaps you could wrap yourself in the code of ethics to keep you warm when you lose your job?

More seriously, I doubt very much the code says that you personally have to give students everything they need to pass the exam in your one course. Could you make some of the materials that students need available outside of the course, and add a note to you syllabus: "Though this course will provide you with a solid base in the materials covered by certification exam X, this course is not in itself sufficient preparation for the exam."

Once you are tenured you can rework the class as it should be.

Miss STFU
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scatmanblues
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« Reply #295 on: March 06, 2012, 6:58:57 PM »

This is why I love this forum.  Thank you.

This is a small (albeit frustrating) part of  an overall amazing position.  The research side of my job has opportunities I could get at very few other places in the country.  I also have a tenured mentor who is incredibly helpful (but not part of the group that caught me in the committee meeting, and she is also new to this department).  She's away at a conference right now or I would have gone directly to her. 

In the big picture, my focus needs to be on research anyway, so, as is often said, this is NOT a hill worth dying on.  I'm published and active in teaching research, however, so this just "feels" icky to contemplate.  Thanks for giving me the reminder of the big picture.  I will survive -stoically.

Scatmanblues
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larryc
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« Reply #296 on: March 06, 2012, 9:36:30 PM »

Could you maneuver the students into asking for the extra work after all? Begin the class with a released old certification test. Let them bomb hard. Then say the bit about how the course will not cover all the bases but only some of them, but here are some additional resources.
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conjugate
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« Reply #297 on: March 06, 2012, 10:16:25 PM »

Could you maneuver the students into asking for the extra work after all? Begin the class with a released old certification test. Let them bomb hard. Then say the bit about how the course will not cover all the bases but only some of them, but here are some additional resources.

Great idea.
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infopri
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« Reply #298 on: March 06, 2012, 10:27:47 PM »

Could you maneuver the students into asking for the extra work after all? Begin the class with a released old certification test. Let them bomb hard. Then say the bit about how the course will not cover all the bases but only some of them, but here are some additional resources.

Just one more time I stand in awe of your endless good advice, larryc.  What a terrific strategy!
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larryc
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« Reply #299 on: March 07, 2012, 1:05:46 AM »

Could you maneuver the students into asking for the extra work after all? Begin the class with a released old certification test. Let them bomb hard. Then say the bit about how the course will not cover all the bases but only some of them, but here are some additional resources.

Just one more time I stand in awe of your endless good advice, larryc.  What a terrific strategy!

Well, it looks good on paper. Very often however things play out for me like Spock on a Star Trek episode where everything hinges on seducing the alien princess. That is Kirk work, however illogical.
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