Flipside

Photo: Alex Cornell

Designer and filmmaker Alex Cornell took amazing photographs of this flipped Antarctic iceberg last month and forever changed the way I look at ice. The beautiful clear gel of this colossal ice mass reminiscent of Smurf jello salad and the earrings I wore to my last formal is the remarkable alter ego of jagged white frost hiding just beneath the surface of the sea.
Does your day need a flipside? New project need a reset? Wish that last program could have a do-over? Even the worst day has a few shining moments; that email from a friend or a sunset on the drive home. The most tedious committee meeting has an opportunity to chat with a new colleague.
We need to turn things over to the B-side every once in a while and look below the surface. You never know what wonders may be lurking there.
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Make Shift Happen

When I first began a career in student affairs, my director was a good and fair person, always supporting a life in balance. Work late for a program? Take a few hours of personal time the next day. Spend a weekend away at a conference? Be sure to take a personal day to catch up on things at home. As a supervisor, I have attempted to mirror this courtesy, believing that people, and family and lives, are more important than a 60-hour workweek. There will always be work to done, reports to write, and programs to plan.
The theme of work-life balance remains a popular topic among colleagues as we seek an adequate distribution. Too many friends make 10-12 hour work days a habit while answering the duty phone each weekend. While we advise students to choose a few extracurricular activities on which to focus, we disregard this advice and drive ourselves to exhaustion.
Clare Cady fired off a discussion on the topic, inviting us to shift our thinking.

I am of the school that work-life balance does not exist. There is life. Part of life for many of us includes work, hopefully in a field where we are happy and satisfied. But life is not about work — it is about living.

Cold nose, warm heart

As the January wind howls and daily highs hover in the single digits, it’s nice to know our lovely city is among those with a coldest average low temperature during the winter months. Cold nose, warm heart.

Winter in Iowa

65° F:
Floridians turn on the heat.
People in Iowa plant gardens.
60° F:
Californians shiver uncontrollably.
People in Iowa sunbathe.
50° F:
Italian & English cars won’t start.
People in Iowa drive with the windows down, radio blasting.
40° F:
Georgians don coats, thermal underwear, gloves, and wool hats.
People in Iowa throw on a long sleeve shirt.
35° F:
New York City landlords finally turn on the heat.
People in Iowa have the last cookout before it gets cold.
20° F:
People in Miami all die.
Iowans close the windows.

Arizonans vacation in Hawaii and Mexico.
People in Iowa get out their winter coats.
-10° F:
Hollywood disintegrates.
Girl Scouts in Iowa are selling cookies door to door.
-20° F:
Washington, D.C. runs out of hot air.
People in Iowa let the dogs sleep indoors.
-30° F:
Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.
Iowans are upset because they can’t start the snowmobile.
-40° F:
All atomic motion stops.
People in Iowa begin conversations with…”cold enough fer ya?”
-50° F:
Hell freezes over.
Iowa public schools open 2 hours late.
State universities remain open for business.

 

Too awesome not to share…

Iowa in January

Bloom’s Where You Are Planted

Spent a morning with student affairs colleagues developing new program and learning outcomes to define our work in connection to university and division strategic plans. Beginning at the bottom of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomies (below), we crafted outcomes statements to link programs and goals to unit learning domains.
Student Affairs assessment is not spontaneous. It must be intentional and carefully defined to provide meaning for your unit and for your students. If  not, it becomes just another “so what” to toss on the shelf.

Blooms Taxonomy

Learning outcomes are all about the verbs. Check out this great list of Bloom’s Taxonomy Action Verbs.

 

Big Demands, High Expectations

lineinsandThat line in the sand… you know the one. That fine line between serving students and the need to separate work from personal time. The ability to decline that after-hours cell phone call or cut off the never ending stream of late night email requests that cannot wait until morning.
The expectations of millennial college students for synchronous customer service in an era of social media shaming takes a toll on student affairs professionals. Despite the satisfaction we derive from service to students, we cannot be on call 24 x 7 x 52. And yet students are only too willing to make a complaint, or worse yet, lambast our programs on Yik Yak. Where is the middle ground? Do we offer too little challenge with our abundance of support?
Don’t feel you must instantly respond to every student question and request. Sometimes it is good to encourage a student to THINK.

Bounce back

You don’t last as long as I have in student affairs or any profession without recovery skills, so this article on resilience captured my attention. It featured a new British study where 75% of respondents identified “managing difficult people or office politics at work” as the most substantial impact to overall career stress.
The original study sought to gather stories of successful women as inspiration for women striving to advance in leadership. It found 90% of men and women surveyed credited resilience as important to their success, but only 6% found help in building this skill in their workplace. This may be a reminder that relationship skills and organization politics are smart topics for that next professional development meeting.
One final thought. What if you are the “difficult person” being managed?