Monday, July 31, 2006

Grumble, grumble

Am I being a grouch for wondering why, exactly, I have to attend an entire week of orientation meetings at Regional U--the week before classes start?

I know that it's important to learn all the policies and meet the right point people and visit the library and the technology center and blah blah blah. . . but couldn't this be done in, say, two or three full days rather than five partial days?

Yes, I'm looking forward to meeting all the other new faculty from other departments and getting generally acclimated--but this schedule is ridiculous. Little is actually getting done each day, but what with to-ing and fro-ing and my commute, I'll wind up losing at least 5 hours each day that could better be spent on my syllabi and lesson plans and a few last, precious days of research.

Here, for example, are the activities planned for Friday:

1. coffee (30 min)
2. campus tour (1.5 hours)
3. library orientation (1.5 hours).

I have no interest in these activities. I mean, I've got a damn campus map, and I've already walked or driven most of it anyway. I already know 75% of what I need to know about the library, since I've been using it for the past two weeks.

I wonder--would I be a bad institutional citizen if I just skipped that day?


Cats & Dogma said...

You should totally ask recent new hires in your dept. what their sense of the event is. At my institution last year, it was largely nonsense--in one instance, a faculty member in the sciences gave a forty-five minute talk with slides, the latter half of which featured a slide that showed how students' attention spans dropped noticeably after 15-20 minutes. You could feel the irony ripple around the room.

For that reason, and because I got a bit of advice, I avoided the campus tour and the library thingy. And I did ok this year. See if others of your new colleagues think the same is ok for you.

Anonymous said...

I'm somewhat involved in actually planning our new faculty orientation this year, so I appreciate your perspective!

However, I wish the powers that be would do two things: 1) make up their little minds about WHAT DAY in Fall 2006 they are going to hold the orientation about undergraduate teaching (!) and 2) for the non-teaching orientation, dump the bus trip to a Famous Local Attraction for lunch, followed by a 1.5 hr talk by our Administrator in Charge of Research. Pick one of those two last activities.

Personally I think the orientation should feature at least an hour on all the good restaurants and grocery stores in town, the arts scene, and just how you can get recycling pickup!

Hilaire said...

I'd skip it, if I were you. If you're attending all the rest, that's plenty. Good lord - you've got things to do!!

For the record, the way my last year's institution got the new faculty to do a campus tour was by sending us on a scavenger hunt! We had to go around to various offices and get them to give us things like pictures of administrators wearing hockey sweaters. It was ridiculous. It was the most dispiriting event...people felt so infantilized...It also said an unfortunate amount about the culture of the place. Hopefully events will be a little more adult-oriented at your new uni!

Anonymous said...

I hear you. THe entire week of the 14th is booked with meetings, luncheons, workshops etc. I really need the time to prep and work on syllabi but everyone, not just new people, has to go to these dumb things. I'd go to a few of the high-profile meetings and then as you get a few years under you, you know which ones to skip. *My wife is starting as a new high school teacher and had 2 days of workshops last week. They had an hour of training on how to use a ladder and a 30-minute presentation on "proper footwear"! I'm serious -- these are taxpayer subsidized consultants who work for the school system. Enjoy!

dhawhee said...

Whew, yah, I'd skip it too, but Cats and Dogma's suggestion is probably the safe approach. I feel like figuring out the campus and library is probably most effectively done on one's own. s

Anonymous said...

Lots of good advice here. I can't imagine the new school will be as strict as Unusual College, where I had to sign in every day (in the moring AND after lunch!) during orientation.

Then again, it is an unusual college.


Flavia said...

Yes--such good advice! I think I'll talk to some of last year's hires about this, as Dogma suggests, and I DO plan on attending all of the first 4 days, so this last one seems missable.

Theodora: thanks for your perspective, too! I've already noticed that one of my orientations (for the composition program) conflicts with the general orientation, but I believe it's just an address by a provost or vice-dean.

Hilaire: that's awful. My orientation could, apparently, be worse.

And GWB: it's (an) ATYPICAL College, dammit! Although I suppose it's also unusual. A couple of your colleagues are, anyway.

Anonymous said...

It's not NEARLY as atypical as it thinks it is. (What college is?) I'd say it's much more unusual than atypical.

So there!


Anonymous said...

We have sign-in sheets at most of our workshops too. It's a form of babysitting that I really resent. 2 yrs ago a new employee (not faculty) fell asleep during the president's orientation speech. Our prez made note of it and then did not renew that person's contract the following year!

RLB said...

Speaking as an academic librarian, I'm happy to see that there's even a library orientation ON your schedule. At my institution we in the library have been unsuccessful at getting such an event into the new faculty orientation process (which is two full days for us). In my experience, only a few new faculty each year are active library users like yourself who would have already explored much of what the library has to offer by the time the orientation rolls around. That said, seeing as you HAVE explored it on your own, I'd feel free to skip that particular session. But many of your fellow new hires could probably benefit greatly from attending it! :)