New Year Reflection and Resolution, Part II: Academia, Again

And you thought I'd shut up after yesterday's rant! No dice. I have more to say! Lucky you!

Remember back in August when I attended that week-long Leadership Academy Conference? Yeah, I barely remember August, either. Anyway, I attended a week-long Leadership Academy Conference with approximately 30 of my fellow Stuffolk faculty, and we kumbaya'd and held hands and talked about our feelings for 5 very long days, and when it was done we were supposed to have come up with a list of practicable, easily-achievable goals that would get us moving in the right direction . . . the right direction being, of course, toward Leadership Roles at The College.

Hey! WAKE UP! 

I know, it sounds pretty dry, right? It is/was, to some extent. In other ways, it was actually quite productive . . . only I think it was more productive for me on a personal level, and I'm not sure it made me better-suited to become a leader at our institution. If anything, it made me question my place at our institution, and doubt whether or not we're a good fit for each other.

So yesterday's piece was obviously the beginning of my rumination on that subject, and is actually part of the process we've been asked to complete over the next year. (Participation in the Leadership Academy was not isolated to that one week in August. We have a mid-year (mid-academic year) report due January 20, and I'll probably use these blog entries as fodder for it -- one, because I don't like repeating myself, and two, because if I'm going to do this thing I'm going to do it honestly and I might as well convey my disillusion/dissatisfaction while I have the opportunity. Also -- I don't expect for anyone other than the Leadership Academy people to read it, so griping a little probably isn't going to affect my job at all . . . and as I type that sentence, I wonder whether or not that's a good thing.)

ANYWAY, I thought I'd use this space to go through my list of "practicable, easily-achievable goals" (given the terrible official title of INDIVIDUAL PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN and the even more terrible acronym of IPDP (pronounced "IP-DIP" -- that's right, people! IP-DIP!) and public flog myself for not achieving much of anything so far this year . . .

Ahem. The IP-DIP objectives: 

  1. I will remove myself from committees that I find draining; stay on (or join) committees that I believe in (that fit with my personal mission and professional leadership statements) . . . and yes, I had to come up with personal mission and professional leadership statements. Stop choking on your laughter, please.
  2. I will use my time at the office, and my time working from home, more effectively.
  3. I will give up some of my responsibilities as co-chair of the Creative Writing Festival Committee. 
  4. I will take a week (if possible) to deliberate before agreeing to do any large task, or take on any new role, at the college.
  5. I will email the Creative Writing Festival Committee regularly with updates and feedback.
  6. I will follow through with my writing projects and stop letting them take a back seat to my projects at the college.
  7. I will work with the other members of the Creative Writing Festival Committee to articulate a mission (or statement of purpose) for the Creative Writing Festival.
  8. I will work with the other members of the Creative Writing Festival Committee to articulate the goals of the Creative Writing Festival.
My success with the IP-DIP objectives:

  1. I will remove myself from committees that I find draining; stay on (or join) committees that I believe in (that fit with my personal mission and professional leadership statements.  Done! I have to say, I'm proudest of this one. I feel like I can breathe again. This goal was inspired by . . . wait for it . . . one of those über-cheesy inspirational videos where some overly sincere, overly-rich-and-successful motivational speaker guy (in this case, an Australian with a charming Aussie accent) tells you how to become successful just like him except for the riches and the worldwide acclaim . . . and in the video, he speaks about avoiding tasks that you find to be a drain  . . . on your time, your attention, your energy, your very soul. Okay, so he didn't say that last part -- but to me, if my time and attention is being drained away -- wasted, used inefficiently, etc. -- I feel less energized and definitely less like a human being. Soul-sucking. So! No more lousy committee work. Only non-lousy committee work from here on out. (Isn't "non-lousy committee work" a bit of an oxymoron, you ask? Why yes, yes it is.
  2. I will use my time at the office, and my time working from home, more effectively. Time at the office spent more efficiently? Check. I spent more time in the office doing what I was supposed to do, this semester, than ever before. This was probably due, in large part, to the fact that A.P. is no longer at our campus, and L.C. was on sabbatical, and so I've lost my partners in crime when it comes to sitting-around-being-a-smart-ass and time-wasting, but I'm not quite sure I'd say that's a good thing. I mean, being efficient sounds like a good thing right? But I miss the levity that our conversations brought to each work day. And that absence, in itself, is a little soul-sucking. So I'm, like, neutral in this whole having-a-soul business, I suppose. #1 and #2 on the IP-DIPPY list are kind of canceling each other out. OH! And I can't tell you whether or not I worked more efficiently while at home. All I know is this: when I left the office at 4:30 p.m. I went to another kind of employment, that of caregiver and housekeeper, and that ended sometime around 8:30 p.m. or 9:00 p.m., and shortly after the kids were in bed . . . so was I. Damn pregnancy hormones! And so I'd have to say, "What time working from home?"
  3. I will give up some of my responsibilities as co-chair of the Creative Writing Festival Committee.  Also, check. Not sure about the "success" of this one so far, and I don't think I will know until the end of the year, post-festival. There have been some minor hiccups so far, mostly because I gave up responsibilities but then neglected to do my job as "overseer/manager" -- i.e. writing an email or placing a phone call to say something like "hey -- have you reserved those rooms yet?" -- and actually, that wasn't one of the jobs that I gave up, but one that the committee reassigned to a member who wanted/needed more responsibility, but you get the point. So -- I'm working on relinquishing control over things. It's difficult. At least I know if I'm in charge of something it's going to get done. Having faith in other people is not something that comes easily to me, particularly if I know that I'm more invested in the project than they are . . . 
  4. I will take a week (if possible) to deliberate before agreeing to do any large task, or take on any new role, at the college. I haven't even had the opportunity to exercise this one properly, and that's probably because of what happened at the beginning of last year, but I'm sure-as-hell keeping it in mind for the future. I might even cross-stitch this fucker onto a sampler to hang on my office wall. I do not -- repeat in all caps -- DO NOT -- want a repeat of Spring 2012, where I said, "hey, sure, I'll help out" and then I became caught in the crossfire between administration, department, and union. Fuck that noise.  
  5. I will email the Creative Writing Festival Committee regularly with updates and feedback. #FAIL. I REPEAT: #FAIL. Still, there's always the next semester. Until I'm swallowed alive by Vampire Baby's delivery and inevitable postpartum madness, that is.
  6. I will follow through with my writing projects and stop letting them take a back seat to my projects at the college. If I want to be a leader of anything, Dear Leadership Academy, I want it to be a leader in my chosen field. I'm really not interested in playing demigod within the administration. So . . . I think the idea or spirit of this goal was more or less kept alive this semester. I sent poems to at least 11 magazines; I sent my full-length ms to at least 9 publishing companies and/or contests; sent chapbook ms to at least 3 publishers/contests; and wrote . . . well, there's where I don't look so hot. Once I finished editing the full-length ms I kind of took a break. It was, however, a much-needed one, after my obsession with Fabulous Beast for the past two years. And in November, I managed to write the rough drafts of at least 3 monologues for the verse play. Not a stunning number, I know -- but one that satisfies for now. In the past, I've been unable to say as much about my writing projects.
  7. I will work with the other members of the Creative Writing Festival Committee to articulate a mission (or statement of purpose) for the Creative Writing Festival AND
  8. I will work with the other members of the Creative Writing Festival Committee to articulate the goals of the Creative Writing Festival. HA! The other members of the CWF Committee don't even know this is on "the list" of items to accomplish for this year -- so, really, I haven't accomplished squat in this area. I did get the idea for it during the Leadership Academy Conference, however, and I see it as a way to beat the system at its own game. Before the powers-that-be thunder down upon us demanding these kinds of things as a way to justify their monies spent on the Creative Writing Festival, I thought we should come up with them ahead of time. I mean, I'm 100% sure that Mission Statements and Articulated Goals will be déclassé in the next decade, and that the administration will dream up some other kind of pet project/preferred language/song & dance routine for us to adhere to, but it can't hurt us to come up with these things, can it? If anything, it might help the three campuses unite even further if we craft some kind of official statement together. As long as we, as a group, don't let the crafting of the Mission Statement and Articulated Goals distract us from the actual goals or mission of the festival, we should be okay. Right? Right?

    God, I'm exhausted from writing all of that. Did anyone actually read it? I don't blame you.

    In apology, I offer this little gem, which I think of often every time I hear someone say "IP-DIP":


    The trailer doesn't feature it, unfortunately, but surely you all remember: "You gotta get him his dip-tet!" 

    *Sigh* I love Frances McDormand.

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