Thursday, December 18, 2008

Annual Tenure & Promotion Self Assessmnent

In the following paragraphs I will walk a fine line between outright bullshit and quasi-honesty. Ultimately, we both know that my teaching “philosophy” does not matter. What does seem to matter is that this assessment appear lengthy and is sprinkled with catchy educational jargon for the skimming eyes of Deans, T&P College Committee Members , and other University officials to catch. In that vein, I strive to create an open and Socratic environment that promotes semiotic fluency. With numerous years of teaching experience, I can now provide concrete examples of my curricular enhancement. For instance, when constructing course syllabi (or as I like to see it, deconstructing course specific navigational milieu) I have learned the benefit of designating one “reflective” day per class per semester. Indicated on the syllabus as “Class Canceled” such days provide students with much needed time to quietly reflect upon the magnitude of intellectual insights they have gained from enrolling in my course. With great personal sacrifice, I spend such days sitting at home drinking coffee and reading the newspaper. I am of course searching the news for relevant global events for integration into future class discussions (I find the Sudoku, crossword, and occasionally the Word Jumble to be particularly worthy of my attention).

Perhaps you may also like me to address the breadth of my teaching experiences. Well, while I do not subscribe to the concept of ability groupings and strive to maintain an inclusive educational control locus (those are for you Dept. of Ed. Committee member)— I have taught everything from Introductory “I am taking this to fulfill a general University requirement and my only prior knowledge of the discipline is derived from a movie character” to graduate level “I have to read how much, can we watch that movie instead?” seminars. From the na├»ve to the delusional, downright stupid to brilliant, stoned to sober, I attempt to penetrate the neural forests of all. I teach such a broad array of courses because I enjoy the unique challenge adjusting of my teaching style to meet the needs of a diverse student body, not because my status as a junior faculty member has left me no choice but to teach the courses no one else is willing to take on. In fact, once I am granted tenure I plan to bestow at least two of the courses in my current repertoire (or teaching toolkit as I like to call it) to untenured members of my department so that they too can be enriched by these teaching experiences. In sum, I am an awesomely proficient educator. Not so awesome that I will not continue to grow and improve in my post-tenure years, but just awesome enough to earn tenure. Oh, and not so awesome as to make my more senior colleagues feel bad or to set too high a standard for my more junior colleagues, as I said, just awesome enough.

I average at least 50 years of boring meeting time per semester, oh sorry, I meant 50 hours. I have gained from these meetings an intimate knowledge of the carpet designs, lighting fixture variability, and chair styles of numerous meeting facilities on campus. I can assure you that the Union, fourth floor “Redwood” room is far superior to all other facilities. In addition to University decorating styles, the meeting time I have logged has enabled me to instantly spot the presence of a talker. We all know the characteristics of a meeting talker, their unfailing ability to develop instantly strong opinions that they simply must voice, their incessant jabbering about the mundane, and their compulsion to say something, anything, about every single agenda item. However, what you may not know about the talker (knowledge I have gained by pleasantly smiling at them while I imagine shoving my coffee cup down their throats) are the following characteristics: 1)Talkers bring way too much stuff to meetings. All that is needed is a pen and some paper for pretending to take notes. The average talker however, is likely to have a disheveled stack of file folders, maybe even a binder, with them. Multiple pens (usually of different ink colors) may be in their possession. Some sort of bag or tote, loaded with books, will likely accompany them. They will frequently have food, not just a snack purchased on their way to the meeting, but some odd edible thing. The exact form this odd food item takes is variable, but you will inevitably think one of the following; What is that? Who eats that? What is that smell? 2)Talkers wear ugly shoes. They are usually not only ugly in style, but heavily worn. Why is this? I do not know, but I promise to spend my post-tenure meeting time dedicated to this mystery.

I would be remiss not to mention the truly not boring and highly inspirational meetings I have attended that were led by a prominent person deciding the fate of my tenure case. Hi Dr. College Dean! Those meetings were in fact a privilege to attend. Remember that incredible PowerPoint when Dr. Dean used that canned slide format with the mountains in the background? And that clipart Microsoft dude would indicate super insightful Dr. Dean ideas with a light bulb over his cartoon head? Wow. That was life altering.

This is the important part. Please turn to page 2 of my vitae in your T&P packet. Find the heading “Grants” and sum the dollar amounts listed. Do you have the number yet? OK good. Now, take my current salary and multiply by 6 (the number of years I have worked at this institution). Humanities faculty: please consult a member of the “hard sciences” you hate so much and ask for mathematical assistance if needed. .. As you can see, the “Grants” number is bigger. Now, count the number of publications (vitae pages 3-6). Divide by 6 to obtain an average number of publications by year. Please refer to the “Tenure Annual Publication Standards” document someone appears to have written in 1973. Which number is bigger? That’s correct, mine. Thank you for awarding me tenure.


  1. FIRST comment! Thanks medieval woman.

  2. LOL!! Seriously funny. I too spend my time in meetings studying the carpet pattern, light fixtures and... of course... perfecting the brilliance of my doodling ability.

    In all seriousness though- welcome to the join a fair number of us academic science bloggers..

    ( and a bunch on the blogroll!

  3. My inaugural post...thank you all for the warm welcome

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