Top 10 Tips for New Faculty

On November 5, 2020, the ECF’s Lindsay Fallon and Bryn Harris hosted a virtual social for new faculty where they highlighted their top 10 tips from past ECF posts. See the tips below, linked to the original posts.

10. Self-Care Matters

In a year in which the election, racial justice, and a global pandemic are at the forefront, take care of yourself to help others. 

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body by engaging in relaxation techniques (deep breathing, stretching, meditation), healthy eating, exercise, and adequate sleep. 
  • Make time to unwind and connect with others. Talking with trusted friends and colleagues can help to process difficult events and feelings. 

9. It’s OK to Not Have Academic Parenthood All Figured Out

If you are caring for others, be kind to yourself. In this post, Dr. Sterett Mercer reminded us to:

  • Match tasks with current capabilities. 
  • Planning and initiating a major project at a “low point” may not be the best use of time. 
  • Be aware of the cycles of the work week and academic year and set reasonable expectations. 
  • Try to relax and stay in the game – burnout is real!

8. Recognize That Imposter Syndrome Is Common

Know that you belong; fake it ‘til you make it. Our anonymous blogger, Dr. Ima Syke, pointed out the following steps to help deal with imposter syndrome:

  • Recognize it within yourself and in others. 
  • Regularly remind yourself of your accomplishments. 
  • Become keenly aware of your strengths. 
  • Discuss imposter syndrome with your students. 
  • Seek support. 

7. Be as Efficient as Possible With Course Prep

Find ways to use time wisely when prepping courses and teaching. Dr. Bryn Harris recommends that you: 

  • Schedule time to prep. 
  • Make revisions right away! Take notes during or immediately after class on things that went well and things that need to be improved. 
  • Teach early in the week if you can. It forces you to be efficient, and leaves the rest of the week for other tasks. 
  • Use the notes feature in PowerPoint to remind you what you were thinking when you made the slide a year ago. Be kind to your future self!

6. Know Who You Are As a Mentor

Be intentional about how you will mentor and know your limits. Drs. Bryn Harris and Amanda Sullivan advocated that we: 

  • Seek support from others when stuck and to learn ideas.
  • Identify strong role models, be inspired by their style. 
  • Know your strengths and decide what your approach will be/is. 
  • Define expectations, roles and goals. 
  • Set boundaries.
  • Follow through with what you say you will do. 

5. Your Research Agenda Can Evolve

You are not wedded to who you were in your cover letter. Dr. Milena A. Keller-Margulis emphasized that it’s important you: 

  • Don’t think of your research agenda as static but rather inherently reflective and ongoing.
  • The best way to determine (or evolve) the general topic(s) of your research agenda is to pay attention to the topics that interest you the most. You might discover this through reading the literature but these ideas may also surface through your practical or field-based experiences. 
  • Do not be afraid to test drive some areas of interest by getting involved in or exploring new areas, and talking to other people with similar interests.
  • These activities will help you narrow your focus to the topics and questions that are the most interesting to you. 

4. A Manuscript Rejection Is Sometimes a Blessing

It’s awful, but can also teach you a lesson. Dr. Laura Pendergast shared this story: 

“Are you done?” my mentor asked patiently. My beautiful manuscript had been rejected… again. My mentor had been listening to me complain for 15 minutes. I was starting a tenure-track position and needed to publish. I had conducted my analyses using the most current statistical techniques. I had painstakingly crafted my arguments and drawn careful, well-supported conclusions. Why didn’t these reviewers understand my paper?! My mentor looked at me calmly and shared a hard truth that changed the way I thought about my writing. She said, “The editor chose three reviewers who he viewed as trusted experts. These hand-picked experts didn’t understand your paper. If multiple, highly educated people didn’t understand what you wrote, whose fault is that?” She was right. Publishing manuscripts is not just about being technically correct and scientifically sound. It is about communicating with an audience… I began by making a new outline. I kept my original results section but rewrote the rest of the paper in a way that was clear and conveyed why the work was meaningful. The revised paper was quickly accepted at another journal.”

3. Start Thinking Now About Your Personal Statement

It’s never too early to start thinking about T&P. Panelists offered the following advice on crafting your materials:

Dr. Jamilia Blake: “Your CV provides a quantitative account of what you have accomplished in a set amount of time. I often think of my CV as my personal reference list. However, your candidate statement is qualitative and provides the context for your work. It should not merely be a narrative recount of your CV. It is your opportunity to bring attention to themes in your work that you feel are important and will eventually have impact on the field. It is your space to discuss how your work shows promise for changing school psychology practice and research.”

Dr. Amanda Sullivan: “I used my statements to explain activities and describe linkages between them – to tell the story I wanted them to take away from reviewing my materials.”

2. Be Intentional About Managing Your Time

Self-manage or track your time devoted to research, teaching and service. Dr. Stacy-Ann January offered the following recommendations: “I use a program/app called Toggl (many other programs are available). I started with 3 broad categories (research, teaching, service) and then kept track of everything I did related to those categories. Each week, Toggl sends me an email with a breakdown of how I spent my time during the previous week.”

Know when you write best. Dr. Dave Klingbeil shared his approach: “I write best late at night, when there are far fewer distractions. I also tend to be more productive when I write almost every day for 1-2 hours (not always attainable), rather than trying to protect two full days for ‘research time’.”

1. Give Yourself the Gift of No

Dr. Amanda Sullivan pointed out, As an early career scholar, you have a finite amount of time so there reaches a point where saying yes to one thing means saying no to another – or where you risk overburdening yourself to the point where your performance in other areas of work suffers. Saying yes to x often means less time for y

Learning to say no first requires identifying your priorities so that you can easily identify requests and opportunities inconsistent with those priorities. 

Practice pleasantly and unapologetically saying no. It’s okay to say no without offering any more justification than you are simply unavailable. 

What other tips or favorite posts would you share with new faculty?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *