Week One Reflections

It’s six o’clock on Sunday evening, and I’m on duty in the Deans’ Office. With study hall coming up in 90 minutes, the boarding students who were off-campus for the weekend are trickling in, and the center of campus is quiet as most students are at dinner. This week has been a blur, so I thought I’d pause and try to process it a little bit.

My Friday night open mic concept went well. I’m trying to run a 30 minute music-plus-announcements kick-off to the weekend every Friday night in our Dining Hall, and the first one was a relative success. Five terrific student musicians performed, I made some announcements, and the room was packed. Not all of the students in the audience were as quiet and respectful of the performers as I would like, so I need to think about how to shape the environment a little more to encourage people to listen. It might be as simple as dimming the lights and putting a spot on the performer. The first part is easy; the second part . . . I don’t know. Either way, I’ll run this event again this Friday, and I want to quickly turn the management of it over to the students themselves.

Another thing I wanted to try as a new dean this fall was to stand at the circle where parents drop off their kids each morning. I’m posting myself there from 7:30 – 8:00am, and it has been a hoot. It is helping me learn the names of some new students, and I’m maintaining connections to students whom I taught last year. I can problem-solve for students and parents on the spot, and I’m discovering who has a learner’s permit. The kids seem to think that I’m standing there to intercept a student who is in disciplinary trouble, but nope, I’m just trying to be welcoming.

Seeking approval for my team’s Adaptability Project proposal is another item on the front burner for me this fall. When we made our presentation to the faculty, we handed out “I like . . . / “I wonder . . .” cards to solicit feedback. Having read the cards this weekend, it is clear that my colleagues have no problem with the proposal to hire an academic technology coordinator, but that’s the least challenging piece of the larger proposal. (And we are always happy to spend money that isn’t ours, right?) The other pieces of the proposal met with mixed reactions; some very positive, some quite negative. All of the comments were respectful, however, which I appreciate, and the snark was restrained. The backs of those cards asked teachers to write down an example of blended learning that they have done in the past with their classes. Some people left this blank, but most teachers wrote down something. The majority of the examples strike me as “technology-rich” classroom techniques, not actual blended learning. After we share the results of the cards with the faculty, I’d like to write them all an email to reintroduce them to the SAMR concept which I presented to them in February 2014. (Alas, it doesn’t seem to have taken root.)

In terms of my own reaction to my new role, I am starting to get my sea legs. I have much less free time during the school day (none, really), but when I finally leave the office, I’m pretty much done. On past Sunday nights when I’ve been on duty in the Deans’ Office, I’ve had grading and planning to do that was hanging over me ominously. Tonight, I have nothing to worry about other than doing my dean work well. I’m on duty next weekend, so the next eight days are going to be exhausting, but once I get past that, I’ll have a decent stretch of time in which I can get into a good rhythm. I need to learn all of my new duties and areas of supervision very quickly, master them, and then concoct a plan to hand them off to other people while I’m on paternity leave. The fall is going to fly by, I am sure.

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