I was struggling to come up with a blog topic for today’s post. OK, that’s not entirely accurate. I was struggling to come up with a blog topic that wouldn’t put me through the emotional wringer. I tweeted it out, and one of my followers suggested 1000 words on all the positives right now. That’s impossible! I thought. But, it’s not, and there are some really small changes that have made a big impact this semester.
First one has been to move my classes into a building on the other side of campus. When my husband and I decided we were going to buy a house, we knew it had to be within walking distance of campus (because we can’t afford to buy a second car, among other things). We lucked out and bought a house that is directly behind the building where both of us teach. We could be out of the house and in front of our classes in about two minutes. But it also meant that we rarely walked around campus. And unless my students became either English or Business majors (the two types of classes that are offered in our building), I never saw most of my students again.
Not so this year. I have to walk across campus now to get to class every day. Not only am I getting more exercise, but I am also seeing my students and former students much more. I really enjoy this because I get to talk to them and ask them how they are doing. And with our retention rates being what they are, I feel pretty good to run into so many of them. I am proud to have taught so many “persisters” and, based on many of their reactions when they see me, it stands as a good reminder of all the good I have done in the classroom on this campus. So while the computer lab experiment may have not exactly worked, I’m really glad I moved buildings for my classes.
I’ve also gotten serious about my work space in my office. My academic coaching experience has made it very clear to me that I needed to get organized and change my work space and work habits in order to be more productive (or, maybe it would be better to say, more productively productive). Being that there is little-to-no money for better office equipment, I rigged up my own solution: my bookshelf is the perfect height (with a book underneath my laptop) to be a standing desk. So now, I stand when I write in my office (and when I muck around on the internet - I mean research). I have a giant exercise ball for sitting at my desk and reading or meeting with students. It’s made a huge difference in my energy level, my posture, and my core strength.
Finally, and most importantly, I’ve started to let go of a lot of the hurt and resentment I feel. At least, I’m trying. I’m looking more closely and being more proactive about opportunities that are here, closer to home. I’m being more public about my social media engagement and blogging (contacting both the Leadership Center and the Communications department at our university). I’ve already been invited to speak to a group of undergraduate students about blogging and using social media for professional development. I’ve also applied to be a part of the President’s Leadership Academy, a biennial year-long workshop/bootcamp open to any and all employees (regardless of rank or position, so this includes staff and contingent faculty). I’m not sure if I’ll be accepted, but I’ve put myself out there to the larger university community, and we’ll see what comes back.
In October, my book will be finished (it has to be; I have a deadline that I intend to keep). All the time I’ve spent working on the book will need to be spent doing something else. I’m not sure what else that will be, but I know now that I have some options. I’m taking back control of my career. And that feels great. This wasn’t a full 1000 words, but it’s a start.