Start of the School Year, Goals, Etc.

I remember reading the Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson when I was in college, and I was stunned that Snorri’s version of the Norse myths includes activities after Ragnarok. Isn’t Ragnarok supposed to be the end of the world?

This school year feels a little post-Ragnarok-y to me. Some dear colleagues are gone now, and I’m adrift without these pole stars to keep my ship (a Viking longship?) pointed in the right direction. Nonetheless, I’m a believer in creative destruction, and now it’s up to the rest of us to rebuild our world. I guess that’s my mission this year.

This is my seventeenth year as an educator, but my first as a full-time administrator with no classroom duties at all. Add to that the impending birth of my first child, and you can understand why I’m somewhat out of sorts. I tell everyone that I’m a permanent beta guy, so this is my opportunity to live it. I was hoping to get my goals posted here before the school year began, but things have been so hectic that my blog will have to take what it can get: the evening of the second day of school.

Goals for School Year 2015-16

  1. Establish an efficient routine for myself in the Deans’ Office that will maintain my reputation as a colleague who gets things done.
  2. Support our interim Dean of Students wholeheartedly and good-naturedly.
  3. Use my influence as “minor discipline czar” to show students compassion and help them be their best selves.
  4. Use my paternity leave to truly unplug from work and build my new family.

That last goal is the scary one. A lot of men feel that there is a stigma around paternity leave, and they worry that taking one will derail their career. I’m very blessed to be in a good position to take a paternity leave, and my employer’s policy will enable me to do it, but I’m very unused to taking time off during the school year. This article in the NYTimes over the summer is a great primer on the topic. It cites a study that shows that men who take paternity leave lessen the number of sick days that their female partners need to take after they return from their maternity leaves. Interesting.

I’ve got other things that I need to do this year, too. I’m still a member of my Adaptability Project team, and we are going to continue to meet this year. We presented our “Technology Renaissance” proposal to the full faculty last week. We have feedback cards to collate and process, and then we need to formulate a road-map to get this proposal approved. My paternity leave means that I won’t be able to present at NAIS with the other Adaptability Project folks, and that’s a disappointment. I’d love to be there to support my colleagues (and run the Twitter backchannel), but having a baby is clearly priority number one.

The pace in the Deans’ Office over the last week has been positively frantic. In truth, I’m energized by that, but it isn’t infinitely sustainable. I have long-term projects that I want to steward, and I won’t get anywhere if I’m always reacting to what’s walking through the door. I actually read a book about workplace productivity over the summer to prep myself for this (Work Simply by Carson Tate), but I’m still getting knocked off my game over and over again. I need to find some serenity. (Good thing that I’m still an academic advisor, so I attend Meeting For Worship here at GS.)

I look forward to finding new ways to use my blog this year to reflect on my work. I apologize in advance if I transform into a predictable daddy blogger in November.

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