September 25, 2015
A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to speak to the new tenure-track faculty at the new faculty orientation and I chose to give to them a list of 25 things for them to consider by the time they come up for tenure. The idea was not to undergird the usual suspects (“write lots of papers", "get good teaching evaluations", "serve on committees”) but rather think of what we will be looking for in 6 years from now.
So here they are - the 25 things for pre-tenure faculty to consider prior to submitting their dossier for tenure review:
1. Build the best possible syllabus you can for each course you teach. Make it a document that you and your students constantly refer to throughout the semester and beyond. Ask your colleagues for what they include but consider adding your expectations (not just for learning but also for classroom behavior), what the students will learn from the class, information they need to succeed, etc.
2. Post your grades in a reasonable time frame. Students need to know how they are performing in your class and getting the grades back from the assignments is one of the best ways for them to receive that feedback. It is extremely important. What’s reasonable? In most cases, 2 weeks.
3. Post your grades using the Gradebook feature of MyCourses. Why? Because most courses use this platform and students are familiar with it and they can get their grades 24/7.
4. Do a mid-semester course evaluation. This is just for your benefit - not to be shared with anyone unless you want to share it. The results can help you make adjustments midstream. Students will see that you care deeply about the course.
5. Teach an online course. It is almost a priori to me that online courses will be commonplace in 2020. Get in the game and experiment with this exciting methodology for learning.
6. Sit in on a colleague’s class and ask your department chair or your mentor to sit in on yours. Find out what they do for effective teaching and what you might do to improve your teaching.
7. Prepare. Prepare for your course, prepare for a meeting, and prepare for your research. Enough said.
8. Meet with students outside of class. Share your passion for your field. Shine a light on your discipline where they might not typically look.
9. Experiment with technology. You are the next generation of leaders for our campus and we are counting on you to innovate. Let your department head know of your plans and help you navigate the challenges when you don’t succeed.
10. Make your course assignments meaningful. The biggest complaint I receive from students is not that there is too much work but rather that the work has no meaning to what they are supposed to be learning. Provide that meaning.
11. Teach courses at all levels - lower division, upper division and graduate levels.
12. Make sure you know what counts for research in your college - it varies because the colleges vary. Talk with lots of colleagues who know and spend time discussing this topic with your mentor and department head.
13. Discuss your research with your mentor, your colleagues and your department head. They need to know your work, your passion. Give department or college talks.
14. Apply for grants. Be a P.I. or co-PI.
15. Become part of a research team or center.
16. Demonstrate gradual independence from your thesis advisor by publishing papers with other colleagues and developing new areas of your research.
17. Involve students in your research. This is RIT.
18. Remember that scholarship is simply defined at RIT: documented, disseminated and peer-reviewed. Be prepared to defend why your scholarship meets this criteria.
19. Patents count for scholarship.
20. Involve yourself in your field - network, network, network. Attend conferences and present your work.
21. The most important word: impact. What difference does your research make to … your field, people, RIT?
22. Be involved with committee work but not too involved. For those in which you participate, show you are engaged.
23. Socialize with your colleagues and be inclusive with your socialization.
24. It is ok to embrace balance between your work at RIT and the rest of your life. Family comes first.
25. If there were an RIT prime directive, it would be this: treat people with respect. Be yourself but be a good citizen. We need more of this not less.