by Sarah Gutowski, Chair, New Member Mentoring Program
You may be so busy at the moment, so caught up in the semester, that you failed to notice September 21 marked the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. If you missed the actual date of the solstice, then maybe you were reminded of autumn by the changing color of the leaves, the slightly cooler weather, and/or the gradual shortening of the days. OR you may have been reminded by another harbinger of fall: the scheduling of observations.
|Changing Leaves, Eastern Campus|
By now, whether you are teaching or non-teaching faculty, you may have received an email from your academic chair or direct supervisor alerting you to the fact that you’ll be observed at some point during the next few weeks. (If you haven’t yet, be on the lookout). Observations in your first semester are routine (you are being considered for retention – not promotion or continuing appointment/tenure – at this point) and conducted according to our contract.
Being observed, much like beginning a new job, involves LOTS OF FORMS – only this time, you aren’t the one filling out the forms! Yay! (There’s just that little matter of having someone watch your every move for a select period of time . . .but no big deal, right?) These forms are all kept neatly for you to peruse on the FA’s website. If you scroll down the page you’ll see two different dropdown boxes. The one on the left holds all of the blank forms, ready to be downloaded and filled out. The one on the right holds all of the sample promotion forms, so you can get an idea of what your own promotion form will look like one day.
When you are contacted regarding your observation, your supervisor will provide you with the names of your department’s Peer Personnel Committee (PPC) members. These are colleagues you can request to be present during your observation, because – again, according to the
– you have “a right to be evaluated by a colleague within [your] own
discipline.” He or she will observe you and fill out the “B” form (your
direct supervisor/academic chair will fill out the “C” form).
You aren't required to do this, but I recommend -- the FA recommends, just about anyone would recommend -- that you do this. First, it makes good sense to have a second perspective where retention, promotion, and continuing appointment is concerned; and second, I've always found it valuable, in terms of fine-tuning my teaching and/or professional development, to have feedback from more than one person, and I think you'll find it valuable, too.
And by the way, you have a College Personnel Committee representative. If he or she hasn’t contacted you yet, you and your CPC rep should have a chat, so look him or her up and send him or her an email, because he or she will need copies of all those observation forms – your supervisor’s, and your peer’s. The CPC reps, like your Peer Personnel Committee members, are there to help you, offer advice as necessary, and act as watchdogs during the observation & promotion process – one of their charges is “to attempt to ensure that all personnel actions are fair and unbiased.”
And as we said in the orientation, that first promotion can arrive faster than you think. Take a look at the rest of the FA’s promotion page so that when it does arrive, you’re not completely taken aback with surprise.