I recently attended a session at the AHEA conference in Chicago that was led by my colleagues Morry Fiddler and Catherine Marienau of the School for New Learning at DePaul University. The session was titled “??!!(Work)??” — so the title alone captured my interest.
The workshop itself was a nice opportunity for conference attendees to stop and reflect on our lives. We usually spend most of the conference talking about our institutions’ lives and our students’ lives, and rarely do we have occasion at the conference to stop and think about ourselves as personal/professional beings. Needless to say, this was a treat.
The workshop centered around the themes of a book by Howard Gardner and associates called GoodWork: When Excellence and Ethics Meet. I’ve not read the book yet, but I am eagerly awaiting the copy I ordered less than 1 hour after the workshop. According to Morry and Catherine, GoodWork highlights three qualities of work that is “good” (this is their high level summary):
- Excellence – doing things excellently
- Personally satisfying
- Of value to or good for others
I have since found myself giving a lot of thought to these qualities and thinking about the final question that Morrie and Catherine posed for us:
What story do we want to be able to tell about our work going forward?
By reflecting on where we have been professionally in respect to these 3 qualities, and thinking about where we are now, attempting to answer this question can help us identify what changes we might want to initiate for and in the future.
I am not sure if these three qualities need be present all at once or even in balance — it’s probably different for everyone — but let me encourage you to give them some thought as well:
- Are you most satisfied with your work when it is done with excellence; when it’s personally satisfying; when it’s of value to others?
- Do these qualities resonate with your version of “good work?”
- Do all of them need to be present at the same time?
- Do they need to be balanced?
If you are interested in learning more about these qualities or the work of Gardner and associates, you can explore the GoodWork Project website.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my professional path lately, for no particular reason other than the fact that I am surrounded by people (mostly students, but also several friends and colleagues) who are doing the same. As I consider the jobs I’ve held since I began working in higher education 15+ years ago, there are several threads that are apparent to me.
JOBS – MORE OR LESS IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
- Tutoring in a writing center
- Working in writing, study, and technology center for students with disabilities
- Teaching college English / writing
- Coordinating faculty development and mentoring programs
- Developing English curriculum and assessment programs
- Creating and delivering professional development programs for educators
- Creating and managing writing and learning resources for adult learners
- And what I do now
- Facilitating faculty development
- Assessing student learning
- Providing learning / learner support
- Facilitating access to learning (in my mind, included in this thread is educational technology)
WHAT WILL I WEAVE NEXT?
Looking back over the last 15+ years, these threads seem significant in that they have not all been fully present in each position, but they have reappeared in different forms. Maybe it’s the kind of work I am attracted to within higher education, what I am “trained” to do, or what I am good at, or maybe these threads represent my true passions (I think that is probably true). Or, more likely, a combination of all of that.
Now I wonder — will these threads remain constant, even though my positions and job titles and passions may change over time? Will they evolve? Would I have been able to identify these as being significant to me 15+ years ago? (Probably not – so I have no way of knowing if they will be 15+ years from now, but it’s an interesting question.)
I also think that the tapestry I am weaving with them is really starting to take a more defined shape. There is a clearer “picture” forming from the tangle of multi- colored strands littering my floor. The outline is well-defined, and though the details are still a bit blurry, so far I like what I am weaving. It fits me as comfortably as my favorite sweater does — like a second skin.
WHAT TAPESTRY ARE YOU WEAVING?
What are your threads? Are you adding new colors, new strands, new textures? Are you carefully considering the threads that you already have on hand and how you can use them in your tapestry? Is the outline or picture in your tapestry clear yet? What will your tapestry become?
That’s a picture of me, my husband, my father-in-law, and my kid on Halloween last year. There’s nothing horrific about it (unless you are not a Packer’s fan, which is a different issue entirely), but it’s not a picture that I posted to Facebook. My neighbor, who took the picture in her living room, posted it and tagged me in it. No problem – it’s cute and funny and I don’t care that it’s there for many (many!!!) to see.
But what if it were a picture that I didn’t want out there? I would have to do something about it — look into my Facebook privacy settings, ask my neighbor to take it down, or something!
And what if it had been a picture that, in fact, made me look irresponsible or, god forbid, unprofessional? (I know I know – some of you think that dressing my kid up in a cheesehead is reason enough to call CPS). Seriously — what if it potentially compromised my professional or personal reputation, Packer’s jokes aside?
I am learning so much about social media right now by co-teaching this course that I came up with a workshop idea for our Career Services office. The idea came to me from an article called New Rules for Job Applicants that one of our students found and shared with the rest of us. It also came from one of my other students (not taking the course) who asked me for advice about a very similar situation she experienced — someone posted something about her that she did not want posted on LinkedIn (in a “recommendation” note), and what should she do about it?
So – what do you think of this workshop idea? Any suggestions?
Understanding Social Media To Manage Your Professional Reputation
In the world of Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and YouTube, potential employers and people in your network are able to do a new kind of background check — one that is informal, but informational! What do you need to know about using social media so that you are thoughtfully managing your professional reputation while participating in these online communities? In this 4-day online workshop, participants will consider this question and will learn about aspects of specific social media tools that can make or break a career.
I will be facilitating an online workshop called Articulating Your Transferable Skills later this month. Here is the description:
In this interactive online workshop, participants will reflect on and learn how to articulate the transferable skills and knowledge they have to offer an employer.
This workshop idea came out of a face-to-face workshop that I facilitated last year with my colleague Mike Randolph. We used a nifty tool called a “Chronolog,” which helps you identify what you have done and what you can do or know as a result of what you have done. From that, it guides you to generate specific examples (stories, if you will) from past experiences to demonstrate those skills.
The whole point? To generate language in order to best communicate and articulate your skills and knowledge, especially if you are transitioning from one career field to another. In other words, it can help you with resume-building, interviewing, or just informal cocktail-party or elevator-ride networking.
Sculpture au Mémorial de Franklin D. Roosevelt, National Mall, Washington DC - Thanks for permission to use!
I have since replicated this workshop in face-to-face settings twice: once to a group of AmeriCorps volunteers and once to a group of colleagues at a conference. The feedback on the workshop and the tool has been quite positive, so if you’d like to take this workshop, please let me know. It’s free and open to all Marylhurst students and friends (in other words, it’s open to the public). It will take place on the social networking site called Ning.
Dates: July 28 – 31, 2009 (Tuesday through Friday) — Login times flexible.
To RSVP and obtain login instructions to the site, send your name and email address to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is some information about a cool new tool that I just learned about called Wordle. Wordle creates “word clouds” — you can copy the body of text (a memo, an essay, a strategic plan, etc.), paste it into Wordle, and you get word clouds. According to Wordle:
The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.
My strategic plan team co-leader and I copied a draft of our “Mission” team’s draft strategic plan into Wordle and got a lovely cloud that emphasizes what Marylhurst is about. It helped us to see particular themes that emerged from our 8-page document and to consider how to finalize our plan. Here’s what one version of ours looked like (click on the image to see it in the large format):
POSSIBLE OTHER USES:
- Copy one of your essays into it to see what words you are using frequently (maybe too frequently). Use the results to help you revise accordingly. (If my money is right, I suspect that the word “very” might be very prominent, for example.)
- Copy your resume into it to help you see if you are using the language of specific careers or industries effectively. Analyze your resume with the results accordingly. See an example of a before and after resume HERE (scroll down to #3: How Others Do It: Elon University Repurposes Online “Toy” to Help Students Improve Resumes)
- Likewise, copy a cover letter into it.
- Copy your business plan into it.
- Use it to turn a love letter to your significant other into a lovely piece of word art.
I think the other reason I like this tool is that it helps us see differently; we don’t get enough opportunities in our lives to do so.
I think it’s fairly safe to say that a lot of our students are service-oriented in mind and heart. I think it’s not false to say that most of you want to, in one way or another, help others in need, help improve the environment, and in general, make a difference to the quality of life of human beings and animals and other living creatures with whom we share the planet. It seems to be part of what students “get” from going to Marylhurst — or quite possibly you’ve already “had” it and Marylhurst is all the better because of what you bring with you. Or both.
In any case, this coming year Marylhurst will be initiating a program called the Marylhurst University Service [and Social Action] Program. The name is still in flux, but the point is that we’re going to be formalizing a means to facilitate the “ethic of service” that the University and its students are known for. We’re able to initiate this program because of AmeriCorps/VISTA funding and a partnership with Campus Compact.
Come to find out, Campus Compact is also partnering with this great service as well:
Jobs for Change seeks to spark a nationwide movement toward careers in the nonprofit, government, and social enterprise sectors. The Jobs for Change website offers job listings, a blog, and career advice from seasoned career guides who are available to answer readers’ questions. Campus Compact is partnering with Jobs for Change to bring public service job opportunities to graduating students and AmeriCorps alums.
This might be a great resource for you to find ways to continue that ethic of service in your work and life, and possibly get paid to do it. N.I.C.E.!