I haven’t got a fancy title for the workshop but I’m doing a thing. I’m going to be in Ottawa in early December and I’ve decided to organise a workshop. This is not affiliated with any university. It’s just me, renting a space and doing a thing. I’d love it if you would join me.
What you will get from this workshop:
- Sense of Purpose: A clearer sense of why you do this work
- The skeleton of a plan for next semester: Priorities, achievable goals, a start on time-blocking
- Strategies for holding boundaries: Knowing where the tricky spots are & having some ideas for how to deal with challenges
- Strategies for getting the support you need, including connections with other participants
Who is the workshop for?
This workshop is for women who are currently employed as academics. You can be at any stage of career: early career, mid-career, starting to think about retiring. While I expect many of those attending to be on the tenure track or already tenured, the workshop is open to those on limited term contracts or patching together sessional appointments.
You are ready to be make some tough decisions so you feel more in control of your workload, whatever your employment situation. You know this won’t be easy. You are ready to believe that things can be different. You are ready to take some risks to change things. Those changes may be small. I will push you out of your comfort zone but not all the way to your panic zone.
If you aren’t ready for “But that isn’t possible!” to be met with “Are you sure?” and “What is possible?”, the workshop isn’t for you. If you think you are ready for that but find those questions a bit scary, the workshop will make them less scary.
What will we do in the workshop?
The qualities I’m aiming for are: Optimism, Solidarity, Deep reflection, and Fun.
The workshop will include a mix of activities. We’ll use images and journaling to reflect on what is meaningful for you, what makes you feel secure, and what support you need. I’ll guide you through the process of making practical decisions about next semesters’ activities and goals. I will offer group coaching to work through specific issues you anticipate in implementing your plan, encouraging others to share strategies where appropriate. There will also be opportunities to connect with other participants.
Informal time is built in, including a long lunch break (lunch provided), because I know that is where some of the best connection and processing happens. If you are an introvert and would like some time alone to recharge during the lunch break, that’s fine, too. If the weather is nice, the Rideau Canal is nearby for a walk, and there are several cafés and a public library nearby.
The teaching term is busy. You have a lot to do. A lot of it is non-negotiable and possibly scheduled by someone else. There is a strong temptation to act as if you have NO control over your time or your activities. This is not true. Even with those constraints, you have a lot more autonomy over what you do, and how and when you do it, than many professionals. What you don’t have is a boss and a departmental culture that will make those decisions for you.
I’ve got a whole workshop script that I deliver virtually 3 times a year and have started delivering face to face for university clients. It uses the basic elements of planning — priorities, boundaries, slack — and guides you through making some tough decisions about the semester ahead. I get great feedback and know it’s useful. I also know that it’s limited.
In July 2018, I led a writing retreat for a university that had a focus on building confidence. I knew as soon as it was requested that this was absolutely the sort of thing I wanted to do. I got great feedback on that, too. More importantly it really got my brain working on connecting a bunch of dots I hadn’t connected before.
Planning requires confidence.
You need to be confident that you have the authority to make these decisions. You have to be confident about the decisions themselves. You have to believe that you deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. You need to be confident that you know how to do your job and you do it well. You have to trust your own judgement.
Chances are you are not consistently confident about all of those things. Most people aren’t. Even the people you think of as confident suffer from self-doubt. They might hide it well but they do.
You might be able to summon up the confidence to do the planning. Maybe you are already a member of my Academic Writing Studio and have participated in the virtual planning class. The tricky part comes when someone challenges your decisions and questions your priorities. It can be hard to judge when you have to adjust your plans to take into account something you had not anticipated or given appropriate weight, and when you need to hold firm to your decisions. There is no way to challenge-proof your plans, unfortunately.
Furthermore, if you value community and cooperation, it can be hard to make and stick with decisions that affect others, no matter how confident you are that they are good decisions. The line between self-confidence and arrogance can be tricky. Your attempts to avoid arrogance and be a good member of the community can sometimes lead you to trample all over your own needs. You get told you need to get better at saying no, but you don’t want to be that selfish bastard that relies on everyone else to pick up the stuff they say no to.
Where does confidence come from?
We know that external validation is not a reliable antidote to self-doubt. If your confidence is low, you extend your self-doubt to the judgements others make. Your gremlins are perfectly capable of telling you that the journal made a mistake in accepting your article (and that scathing criticism is now going to rain down on you), or that all the students that gave your course a high rating were just being nice (amplifying the voice of that one student who absolutely hated it and let it rip in the evaluation forms), or that someone made a mistake hiring you and there is no way you’re ever going to get tenure, or … or … or … I’m sure you can add your own examples.
It seems to me that there are three things that contribute to confidence:
Importantly, there is a deeply personal element to what makes things feel meaningful, secure, and supportive. Furthermore, it’s not that external factors are irrelevant, it’s that they need to connect to those three things in some way. There is an interplay between internal and external factors on each of these 3 dimensions. External validation can feel like support if it is meaningful to you, for example. A lack of security in your employment contract can be less of a concern if you have support from colleagues.
What if your values don’t line up with the university’s values?
There’s no “what if” about it, your values will never be perfectly aligned with those of your employer. You have academic freedom and the processes that evaluate your outputs value some things more than others. The institution is often vague about what it really values, and sometimes you learn the hard way that the work you are doing isn’t as valuable to them as you expected. In that situation you can lose confidence. The work that’s meaningful to you isn’t recognised so why bother even trying?
In this workshop we’ll address that gap. You do not need to capitulate, abandoning what’s meaningful to you to meet institutional demands. There are compromises available that enable you to do meaningful work.
Place: The Drawing Room Studio, Southminster United Church (Galt Street entrance), Aylmer Avenue, Ottawa, ON K1S 5G4
20 places available; Coffee, tea, snacks, and lunch provided.
Fee: $125 CAD + HST (total $141.25) payable by credit card (processing via PayPal) or Interac e-transfer
Payment terms & conditions: A $25 non-refundable deposit will hold your place. The full amount is due by November 16, and is not refundable after that date unless I am able to fill your spot. You can sign up for the email list to indicate interest even if you aren’t ready to commit. I will notify everyone on the mailing list if the workshop is filling up (deposits paid).
If the workshop is cancelled for any reason, including lack of registration, you will receive a full refund within 7 days of cancellation.
Can you help spread the word?
Do you know anyone would might benefit from this workshop, I’d love it if you could share the link to this page on social media or by email.
There is also a PDF you can print and put on your office door or noticeboard.
Download a workshop poster to print & share (1 download)