Friday, October 21, 2016

Practical Matters: Priority Registration

by Sarah Kain Gutowski, Chair, New Member Program

On Tuesday, October 25, I'm going to be advising Honors students on the Eastern Campus about the classes they'll be taking next semester. One of the benefits to being an Honors student at Suffolk is that they're allowed to register for their classes early, ahead of the regular Priority Registration schedule. It's a pretty sweet perk, as students in their first semester of college are usually registering last during the Priority Registration period: but because they've been accepted into the Honors Program, they get to take advantage of one-stop shop faculty advising in the Honors Lounge, and at the end of it, once they've decided on their classes, they can take a form over to the registrar's office knowing they won't have to worry about course sections being full yet.

There’s usually some form of “priority registration” at any college or university, so you may already have an idea of what I'm talking about. Just in case you’re still a little fuzzy, though, about what Priority Registration at SCCC encompasses – and what your role in Priority Registration is supposed to be– allow me this attempt to clarify.

October is #domesticviolenceawareness month.

In recent years, particularly after the award of a Title III grant, the administration has spent a good deal of time attempting to clarify the role of advising faculty when it comes to registration. Teaching faculty are required (again, like most important tasks, contractually) to set aside eight hours per semester, in addition to their regular class time and office hours, for advising students. This doesn't mean you have to cram all eight hours into the next two weeks -- although the administration does encourage you to spend more time in November answering student questions about their schedules, helping them decipher their SAIN reports, and guiding them to take classes that will fulfill their program requirements AND requirements for graduation.

Great, you must be saying in response . . . so who am I advising?

Good question! Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, there is no formal assignment of students to faculty advisors for the majority of our students. Some of our programs formally assign advisors, but most do not, and General Studies students are definitely left to fend for themselves. So, in order to make the most of your advisement hours, and in order to actually meet with and help students who would like to be advised, you have a few options.

The first option you have is to canvass the students in your classes. If you haven’t done so already, schedule some of your advising hours over the next month (since Priority Registration officially begins on November 7, and continues until Open Registration begins about a week later). Then make this into some sort of chart using Excel or the table function in Microsoft Word, or simply use the form you find here,, the official, college-wide Faculty Advisement Resource for SCCC. (The link to the PDF form is the first link at the top of the page). Announce your availability to your classes, post the hours on your door, and if you're particularly ambitious, post them to your Blackboard course space.

Another option, which you may have discovered already, is to participate in your department’s efforts to hold department-specific advising sessions. Also, you can volunteer to spend some of your hours advising in the Academic Advising and Mentoring Center. (For example, come November, I'm signing up to spend two hours in the Eastern campus center on a Friday. Sometimes a change of scenery is nice.)

Keep in mind, too, that any hours you spend or have spent counseling or advising students before November (or after!) counts toward your advising commitment. We're not often required to turn in an official record of our time spent advising, but just in case the administration does ask for such a record, it's a good idea to keep notes about whom you advised and when and where.

Also, particularly because you’re new to the college or the full-time teaching faculty gig, you should visit the link above to find videos that demonstrate useful information like “How to Read a Student’s SAIN report” and “Using Banner for Advising Purposes.”

So that’s my heads-up . . . and be prepared to receive a maelstrom of emails concerning Priority Registration at this time of year. As overwhelming as they may seem, you should pay attention to them, as they’ll help you fulfill your advising duties as a faculty member.

Friday, September 30, 2016

To PD or Not to PD: That is the Question

by Sarah Kain Gutowski, New Member Mentoring Program, Chair

Greetings, New Members. As September draws to a close -- for some of you, your first month as  full-time faculty -- it's good to take a moment and reflect on the past few weeks. Take a moment to decide what's gone well and what has gone . . . well, less successfully than you would have hoped.

Even though you've just begun your career at SCCC as a full-time member (yes, some of us were already familiar with Suffolk as adjunct faculty!) you should take a moment to do this kind of reflection. Why? Because, quite frankly, you're going to become busier -- and not just this semester. The typical career path of our faculty members, whether from Instructor to Full Professor or from Specialist I to Specialist II, is often a steep climb of mounting college committee work and campus and departmental obligations.

If you were a new member in the spring, you might remember my post about taking a time out at the end of an academic year to reflect on the way you fulfill your job duties, and whether or not you did them in a manner that truly reflects your values. (If you're new this semester, please click on that link now or bookmark it for later.) On a smaller scale, you could (maybe should?) do this on a regular basis throughout each semester, to track your activities and recognize when those activities and tasks are becoming difficult to master/navigate/complete.

Sometimes, professional development opportunities allow you to do this kind of reflection and self-searching. (I won't go so far as to write "soul-searching." Let's keep this blog drama-free, shall we?) For instance, this summer I participated in the Chair Academy's Advanced Leadership Academy. Sounds super exciting, ammaright? Actually, it wasn't as dry as it sounds -- and it provided me with a few days in which I could set aside my regular duties, take a breath, and consider my career and where I'd like it to go from this point onward.

Today, similarly, I attended the W.I.L.D. (Women in Leadership Development) "Art of Saying No" workshop, led by Dr. Alyssa Kauffman, and it was really well-organized, delivered, and well-attended. Its message was one that I consider particularly important for new members: Protect your time and peace of mind, and remember that sometimes saying yes to every request leaves you unable to meet any of those requests in a way that satisfies you or the people you've committed to helping.

Particularly if you're one of our Spring hires and have been here for half a year already, you may have been asked to join a committee or two (or, especially if you're on a smaller campus, five). As you may remember from orientation, however, both the FA and the administration encourage new members to focus mainly on teaching and job duties during your first year at SCCC, and ignore the hoop-jumping of promotion.

I would qualify this advice, however, and say that you should take advantage of the many workshops our Office of Faculty and Professional Advancement offer throughout the academic year. These Friday events do not often involve a heavy time-commitment nor do they require a lot of pre- or post- workshop tasks. Rather, you are asked to arrive with an open mind and a willingness to participate.

These are opportunities to gain real perspective and insight, and sometimes very practical tools, for doing your job at SCCC more effectively and with greater efficiency. Additionally, they are a fantastic way to meet fellow faculty and members of the administration, and network in the most useful and meaningful way. Through them, you often become more familiar with the way the college works and its various processes and traditions, and yes -- you can even earn credits towards promotion. (Even though, as stated previously, you really shouldn't be worrying about that now!)

Also, you get a free notepad, pen, and usually some sort of refreshment. (And who doesn't like free swag and chow?)

Lastly, think about perusing OFPA's web site occasionally -- not only do they keep their calendar of events there, they also provide an archive to transcripts of all those "Monday Morning Mentor" emails Dean Gherardi sends us (which -- honestly -- I have a difficult time opening before the week ends. Hopefully you're better at this than me). There are also links to issues of Academic Leader, The Teaching Professor, and the Chair Academy's Leadership journal.

Oh! And don't forget to participate in an especially important PD event on November 18, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in the Mildred Green Room of the Babylon Student Center (Ammerman Campus) -- it's the first FA Member Discussion Series of the 2016-2017 academic year, and it's focused primarily on the new member experience. It's called "In Hindsight: What You Can Learn from My First Year." Mark your calendars and save the date!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Practical Matters: How to Access Your Office Computer Files Remotely

by Sarah Kain Gutowski, Chair, New Member Mentoring Program

Happy Labor Day! I hope you enjoyed your day off, because we don't have any more holidays until October -- and then the Academic Calendar gets a little screwy. But I'll talk about that in another post!

For now, I wanted to share with you one of THE most important and useful tips someone once shared with me -- the fact that we have access to computer files that we create on our office computers. And we don't have to resort to a flash or portable hard drive to do it. 

I know it's been hot, but savor these last summer days.
This means that if you forgot to upload that PowerPoint lecture to Blackboard, and now you're standing in front of your students wondering if they will take the same kind of notes without the usual visuals, you don't have to worry. You simply access your My Documents folder, locate the lecture, download it, and begin class.

OR, maybe you're working on a report at work and the clock hits 5 p.m. -- you have to go pick up kids and take them to soccer, karate, basket-weaving, etc. You think, I'll work on this later, after everyone's in bed. And then that time comes, four hours or so later, and you realize, *@#$?! I didn't save the document to my jump drive!   

No problem. You simply access your My Documents folder, locate the document, download it, and begin working. (For a short while -- you need your sleep, people, and that report can probably wait.)

How do you do that? you ask. Well, I'll tell you (as if you haven't figured that out yet from the title of this post). Far be it from me to encourage laboring over a weekend (and especially a holiday weekend at that) or into the wee hours of the night, but you should know that if you ever forget to email yourself a document or save it to a flash drive, there's still another way to access your files without driving several (or several + several more) miles back to your home campus.

First, type into your web browser (or, you know, click the link and then bookmark it). You'll arrive at this:

Then, enter your MYSCCC login information. You'll be taken to this screen:

At this point you're asked to select the link to your home campus. It's important to note that if you were formerly an adjunct who began teaching on another campus, or even a full-time member transferring from another campus, your files are probably located under your original campus. (example: I transferred to the Eastern campus from the Ammerman campus a couple of years ago, and my files are still located under the Ammerman link.)

Click the link and be patient. I find that depending on the amount of traffic on the college server or the strength of the wifi signal at my own home or the coffee shop where I'm working, it can take a minute or two for something like this to appear: 

Use the arrows on the top right of the screen to scroll through the list until you find your MYSCCC Login. When you do, click the link, and you'll be directed to another link for your files ("My Documents").

Once you're in there, you can access anything that you created on your office computer and saved to your My Documents folder. (A word of warning: if you were working on a document and didn't save it to your My Documents folder, you'll be unable to open it up remotely.) You can even upload documents that you create at home to the school's server, and they'll be ready for you to access once you return to the office. All in all, this little tool is a pretty useful one to remember. Remote access to my office files has saved me time and stress on more than one occasion. May it do the same for you!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Welcome, New Faculty!

by Sarah Kain Gutowski, Chair, New Member Mentoring Program

The rose bush next to my office window blooms in August.
Welcome to SCCC, new members! 

I'm sorry that I missed meeting most of you at Orientation on Friday. Hopefully, once the relevant and necessary forms were filled out, you learned some useful and interesting facts about life at the college and ended the day feeling excited and energized about your future at Suffolk.

But if you didn't, don't fret. It's completely normal to have felt a little overwhelmed -- after all, there's a lot of information at Orientation that's thrown at you all at once and it can be really difficult to keep track of all the names and faces you meet during the day.

That's one of the reasons the Faculty Association started our New Member Mentoring Program. We recognize how difficult it can be to acclimate to any new job, let alone at a college, where the infrastructure can be complex and more often than not, a little confusing. Having a peer mentor, someone familiar with the college environment and its policies and procedures, not to mention its diverse student body with varying needs, can really make a world of difference in the transition to your new role as faculty, librarian, specialist, or professional assistant at SCCC.

Over the next two weeks, the campus coordinators for the New Member Mentoring Program will be working closely with me to pair you with a mentor. You'll receive an email notifying you of that person's name and contact information, and then shortly after you'll receive an email, office visit, or phone call from your mentor.

Your mentoring experience will last for the entire 2016-2017 academic year. (This is also true for those of you who arrived in the spring but weren't paired with a mentor yet -- you still receive a full year of mentoring!) You'll receive, on a regular basis, information through the official New Member Mentoring Program blog, The Undercurrent. Each new post from the blog will be sent to your school email address, along with a hyperlinked archive of past posts from the year. For the most part, I'll be writing these pieces, but they'll also feature voices from guest writers across our three campuses.

In late September or early October, you'll be invited to a Bagel Brunch on your campus, where our FA officers and your campus coordinator will give you a special white promotion folder (the biggest asset, some argue, when planning and preparing for your promotions) as well as more information about how the college runs and what to expect in the upcoming weeks and months. It's also a really good opportunity for us to check in with you, see how things are going, and help you troubleshoot any problems if, of course, you have them.

During the fall semester your mentor will check in with you periodically, and at one point you will arrange a date and time to go out to lunch -- on the FA. This off-campus, one-on-one opportunity is your chance to get to know a little of the landscape surrounding your campus (like, where the good diners and coffee shops are) as well as to speak frankly and openly about your experience at SCCC in a less formal setting.

In November, you should make a sincere attempt to attend In Hindsight: What You Can Learn from My First Year, the first event of the newly revamped FA Discussion Series, and a panel discussion featuring faculty who began their careers at SCCC -- and went through this same mentoring program -- just last year. (Save the date: November 18 from 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. on the Ammerman Campus, in the Mildred Green Room, Babylon Student Center). Also, you'll receive an electronic copy of The Word, our FA newsletter, and you'll learn the date and time of our annual Holiday Party. You are encouraged to attend this celebratory and social event, and bring a spouse or partner as well -- your own ticket to the party is free, courtesy of the FA.

When we return from the winter break to begin the spring semester, your mentor will again check in, see how things are going, and take you out to lunch before the academic year ends. Additionally, there will be two more FA Discussion Series events to attend (one in February and one in April)

Your first academic year at SCCC and your time in the New Member Mentoring Program will close with an appreciation dinner and social gathering in late May or early June, where the FA will officially thank all of the members who work tirelessly on behalf of the union's efforts, like your mentors, and congratulate all of its newest members on successfully completing their first full-time year at Suffolk.

Should you have any pressing questions or concerns before you're officially assigned your mentor, please feel free to contact your New Member Mentoring Program campus coordinator via email or phone:

Grant Campus

Pete DiGregorio
Sagtikos 108
peterd _ at _
digregp _ at _

Ammerman Campus

Jonathan Brockman
Life Science 230
jonathanb _ at _
brockmj _ at _

Eastern Campus

Nina Acquavita
Orient 220
ninaa _ at _
acquavn _ at _

You should also feel free to contact me directly:

College-Wide Chair of the New Member Mentoring Program

Sarah Kain Gutowski
Orient 123
sarahg _ at _
gutowss _ at _

That's it for now -- best of luck with your first week of the academic year! Be on the lookout for an email about your mentor pairing soon . . .  
From left: Jonathan Brockman (Ammerman Campus); Nina Acquavita (Eastern Campus); Sarah Kain Gutowski (College-wide Chair); and Pete DiGregorio (Grant Campus)