for New Faculty
of British Columbia web site)
First things first:
- Make yourself
known to and develop a good relationship with the department/team
introduce yourself to other staff in your department.
- Organize your
time effectively: use productive active hours for research and writing.
Take a Time Management course if you feel you could use some pointers.
- Create a "tenure
and promotion" file immediately. Keep duplicate copies of all
relevant materials at home (your CV, annual reports, publications,
- Stay focused.
- Be courteous
to everyone around you.
- Attend all
the social functions in your Department. Isolation is often cited
as a common problem for new faculty.
On Setting Goals:
- Set explicit
priorities early in your career. Tenure assessment comes sooner
than most people expect. Don't
lose focus on your goals. Prioritize.
- Enroll in
a teaching enhancement course, anyone's teaching skills can be improved.
- Provide full
course descriptions for your students that outline course objectives,
content, texts or readings, methods and evaluation. Provide sufficient
detail on the nature of assignments, value or worth, and due dates
so that students aren't left guessing what you expect of them.
- Use a text
processor for producing all course descriptions, reading lists,
assignments, and handouts. It will save you an immense amount of
time in the long run that can better be spent on other teaching
and research activities. It will also facilitate future high- tech
- Write course
and lesson objectives in the form of behavioral outcomes. In other
words, clearly conceptualize what you expect students to be able
to do at the end of a course or lesson in concrete, well defined
terms rather than in hazy, abstract terms ("list", "describe",
etc. rather than "learn" or "understand", etc.)
If you establish clear behavioral objectives for courses or lessons
then the rest of course or lesson planning will follow easily.
- Involve your
students actively in the teaching/learning process; that is, encourage
active rather than passive learning. Think of ways to involve your
students in each of your lessons. It is better for students to assimilate
and digest fifty ideas or concepts over a term rather than just
passively record several hundred.
- Take the time
to work out a grading scheme or approach that works well for you.
An initial investment in time in this area can pay off a hundred
fold over the years.
- Find out who
the "effective" teachers are in the department/team or
college and attend some of their lectures.
- Take a deep
breath and relax before you start class (always try to keep the
10 minutes -- or more -- before class free from other commitments,
to avoid arriving in class harried, irritable, out of breath, or
- Teach from
your own experience instead of someone else's (if you're comfortable
and having fun, students will feel it).
- There's only
time to address between 2 and 5 learning objectives in a single
class -- start each class by stating these 2 to 5 key points as
the topic for the day. State them as learning outcomes -- what your
students will be 'taking away' with them from your class . These
objectives will also prove invaluable when evaluating your students.
- In each course
spell out the expectations you have of the students in the first
class, reiterate them consistently at regular intervals and stick
with them. Students do not deal well with surprises, particularly
when related to their attainment of grades.
- Think of positive
learning experiences that you've had, and copy them.
- If you want
feedback from students, ask specific questions; instead of "Do
you have any feedback?" ask "Are we meeting the objectives?"
or, "List three things that are going well in this class, and
three things you'd change if you could." (You can ask this
last question and have students jot down the answers on the + and
- side of small index cards, so it's anonymous, but still a sense
of how the course is going after about 6 weeks or so when there
is still time to make things better.)
- Get your teaching
organized. Discuss your teaching load with your department/team
chair and request not to have multiple new preparations during your
first years' teaching.
- It takes three
tries to "get it right" so don't expect too much of yourself
in the first year -- address the major course objectives and it
will be a little easier next year, and a piece of cake in the third
year -- almost boring, in fact; you'll want to start experimenting
a bit more just for fun!
- Don't sweat
the little stuff, and that includes hearing isolated complaints
from individual students....you can't please everyone all of the
time, so listen to the majority, not the minority opinion. That
means when someone says your question is ambiguous, you should ask
for a show of hands and clarify to the whole class only if it proves
to be a major issue. Ask the minority to stay after class or come
in during office hours so you can address their issues without taking
up everyone's time in class, or skewing the discussion.)
- Have someone
(your mentor?) do peer evaluation of your teaching and get feedback
On Administrative Duties:
- Avoid excessive
committee & administrative work early in your career.
- DO serve on
university committees; it is probably the best way, aside from mentoring
activities, to meet colleagues from a wide variety of disciplines
from across campus. Do try, however, to avoid being talked into
becoming the chair of any committee!
on writing grants and writing manuscripts for publication, not necessarily
in that order.
- Keep your
academic work focused; avoid too many uncorrelated research pursuits;
- Keep your
nose to the keyboard and write, write, write.
- Keep your
manuscripts in the mail, not the desk.
- Use whatever
resources are available to advance your research, within the bounds
of law, ethics and courtesy.
- Research and
learn all you can about grant applications immediately.
when it comes to formal research pursuits. Find an area that interest
you and then develop sufficient experience and expertise that you
gradually become recognized as a national and then an international
expert in your field. Research funds go to those who have a proven
track record in a particular area of knowledge.
- As stated
above, create a "tenure and promotion" file immediately.
Keep duplicate copies of all relevant materials at home (your CV,
annual reports, publications, teaching evaluations).
- Document any
sexual (and/or other forms) of harassment if you experience them.
- Save letters
of thanks, supportive memos, etc., for your dossier or dossiers
(to cover teaching, research, and service). You may not have to
use this material, but at least you'll have it should the need arise.
Copy particularly noteworthy items to the department/team chair
as they are received, for inclusion in your departmental file.
- Document your
contributions as you go, highlighting efforts made to improve your
teaching (e.g., indicate course changes you've made and why, what
you expected to happen, what did happen, etc.).
- You will be
a more balanced person, and a better scholar, if you remember the
importance of your family and a life outside academe.
- Don't forget
to take the time to enjoy yourself.
- Maintain perspective
on your life as a university teacher and researcher. Take regular
breaks from your work, share time with your family or friends, take
up some form of physical exercise, go for a walk, listen to music,
etc. Above all else maintain your sense of humor.
On Promotion and Tenure:
a good working relationship with the chair of your department/team
and put in place yearly reviews (even if they are not required).
- Talk to other
faculty members and establish whether there is any potential for
collaborative research. Volunteering to give a seminar is one way
to introduce other people to your areas of expertise.
- Get international
recognition by attending conferences and publishing in international
- Start to put
together essential items for tenure and promotion. It is a huge
task if it is left until year 5 to begin the process.
- Identify what
you do and do not understand from the available tenure guidelines,
then discuss and clarify these items with your mentor, department/team
chair, and other faculty.
- Know procedures
(the application process, what happens, making an appeal, etc.)
from the beginning. Be optimistic but prepare for the worst just
in case (i.e., document everything as you go). Know what materials
are admissible and build them.
- Review other
people's tenure documents (i.e. successful ones!).
- Seek out information
on UW Oshkosh computing services, professional development workshops,
internal and external grant deadlines and all University resources
in general, ASAP.
- Avoid taking
on more than you can handle.
- Avoid trying
to change the world (department/team) in one day.
- Avoid criticizing
publicly or privately.
- Practice diplomacy
when conflicts arise.
- Take the time
to read the Faculty &
Academic Staff Handbook and become thoroughly familiar with
your rights as well as responsibilities as a faculty member.
- Don't get
overwhelmed - others have been new faculty before and survived.
You don't have to be a perfect teacher the first year. Nor do you
have to publish 10 times (though it can't hurt); just show up, try
to remember why you are here, listen to the students and your colleagues,
and follow your feelings.
- Keep on smiling
because others have made it and you probably will, too.