Marketing Professor Reflects on President Betz’ conversation on “What are we doing here?”
Author: Dr. Jeri Jones-
The UCO teacher center, the Center for Excellence in Transformative Teaching and Learning (CETTL), holds a monthly informal discussion called the Socrates and Stein Café. Modeling the early French Salons and Socrates, UCO faculty are invited to come and share thoughts over cookies and tea on a big question in the academy. Every month is a different question. Faculty participating in the 21st Century Pedagogy Institute are asked to write a post-session critical reflection about their experience. Jeri Jones (UCO Associate Professor of Marketing) selected a few themes from the November 16, 2016 session lead by President Don Betz to reflect upon as they relate to her life as a faculty member.
I found this seminar to be particularly interesting as I enter the latter part of my academic career. It was interesting to hear President Betz speak about the difference in faculty perspectives from faculty at the beginning of their careers versus those at the end of their careers while pondering “what am I doing here?” During this seminar I jotted down a few phrases that had particular relevance for me and what I learned or thought about them. I would like to discuss a few of these for my reflection piece.
“Never make a student feel they are not important enough for 30 seconds”
This really was quite profound and I can think back on my career when there were times when I asked a student to come back at another time because it was not a good time for me. Now I realize that I need to meet students at times that are good for them and it cannot always be about me. When students wanted to meet me to discuss something I would start the conversation by telling them when I was available on campus instead of starting by asking them when it would be convenient for them to meet me. Now I also give students my cell phone and let them call me whenever they need help. I know many of these students are working on homework at night and that is when they probably need the help so I tell them to feel free to call me at night. In all honesty—it doesn’t disrupt my work life balance to take a 30 second phone call from them or answer a text.
“You have to cultivate the kind of community you want to be in”
This really hits home for me as a faculty member. I really cannot stand it when a faculty member only complains, as I shared a lot of this behavior in my own past. The culture of a place is a direct result of the kind of participation, respect and attention we give to each other. Now, I try to jump in and become involved with many things on campus and be part of the solution and not part of the problem. Criticism has always come easy for me but being part of the solution is something with which I struggle. Now, I volunteer, I do a lot of training and workshops as it keeps me connected with faculty/staff and innovation and allows me to see not only the problems but work on solutions at the same time in a positive environment. I try not to align myself with complainers but with people with positive attitudes. I want to be in an innovative and positive environment where NOT attempting to try something is frowned upon rather than attempting something that failed. This is a culture that needs to be supported and encouraged and I want to be in a place that does this. Toward that end, it is my responsibility to help cultivate this environment. Embarrassingly, this also made me reflect on times when I was not cultivating the kind of environment that I wanted to be in. There were times when I was the rain storm and now I have to reflect back and wonder why I did that when there were probably other things I could have done better to bring about positive change.
“We have responsibility to continue on in the right spirit”
While we have a responsibility to cultivate our own environment, sometimes it is still not the right place for that person anymore. This was quite impactful for me. Sometimes we need to move on and change can be a good thing when you feel you no longer fit where you are. Tenure is not a prison!
“The learner thrives in times of great change”
I think this sums up my thirst for faculty development and my desire to participate in the UCO’s 21st Century Pedagogy Institute. Change is difficult for me and I have found that immersing myself in faculty development activities reduces my stress. First it makes me ready for the change. I feel I am better equipped to deal with change when I have been trained to not only expect it– but embrace it. Second I feel like I am staying current with the flow and not being left behind. I hate when I attend something of relevance to me and I feel like everyone else knows what they are talking about except me. I have learned I can change that by keeping myself informed. It is also a great way to keep connected and not feel alone in a place of a thousand people.