Thursday, November 19, 2009

A change of emphasis was a revelation

Today a faculty member shook her head in amazement. Her schedule was completely different and more productive now, thanks to one simple change. Formerly she had spent her in-office time planning classes, as many newer faculty members do before they have taught long enough to be able to rely on tried-and-true syllabuses and lesson plans from previous semesters. Then she would try to fit her scholarly writing in on the weekends, when she was also juggling family time, including helping her kids with their homework.

Another faculty member suggested a simple switch. By writing on the weekends, she may have been subconsciously telling herself that scholarly writing was less important than teaching, whereas we continually emphasize that they are of equal importance, and that it is never acceptable to push writing aside in favor of teaching during the academic semester. So the faculty member suggested that she begin working on her writing during the week, and move the class planning to the weekends, thereby making writing the senior partner in the relationship.

The change was miraculous. She kept exclaiming in the meeting today how remarkable it was to get more writing done during the week, and then think about her lesson plans on Sunday afternoons (she saves Friday nights, Saturdays, and Sunday mornings for her family). This switch moved her writing into a more prominent role, and because she got more done she wasn't going into the weekend with guilt about her work.

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