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!