I am in my first year as an administrator of a new service unit and I have learned several things:
- Only other administrators fully understand what you are doing.
- You have to work a fixed schedule to manage a team of people.
- You miss teaching and interacting with your students.
- You represent all that is good and bad about administrators and the administration by doing your job.
This is not all that I have learned; however, the bulk of what I have learned is not really about me.
My learning is taking place on the job as I manage a team of less than one dozen. Our work is to help the campus community with their use of our Learning Management System and other educational technology platforms. We are in the midst of a migration, piloting an enterprise WordPress site, and assisting with the use of iClickers and other education technology in the classroom. This is an oversimplification, but what we do is support training, orientation, and provide a service to the campus. I have explained to some colleagues that in my new role, I am listening, learning, and leading. I collaborate with other units to make sure that the student learning experience is a quality one. And I do lots of listening to colleagues about what they can do to change things in their classroom. I am finding that mid-career colleagues are really eager to mix things up, and this might be moving to a blended environment or using different platforms in the classroom; however, what is common is that they want to bounce ideas off of someone who not only enjoys teaching, but is pretty good at it.
What else have I learned? Other administrators are gracious and helpful as I learn the array of policies and move the new unit forward. I have had previous opportunities to interact with administrators, thanks to my roles as the Academic Women's Caucus Chair, and sitting on Senate. This work has made me keenly aware of university governance, the various collective or framework agreements, and more so the overall governance of the campus.
Lastly, I have to add that colleagues across campus have offered me advice and lots of help. In particular, I would like to thank the upper administration for leadership workshops, and human resources for change management coaching. During this year, I have learned much and have enjoyed my role. I do not think that I have crossed over to the "dark side," as I have heard from some colleagues. This new role affords me a chance to see how things work behind the curtain and ultimately offers me a way to help other faculty, staff, and students. I am leading workshops every week and feel like I am still doing lots of teaching. It is a good fit.