My Second Year on the Tenure Track

August 2018: Smith Rock State Park, At the tail end of my 2nd year

August 2018: Smith Rock State Park, At the tail end of my 2nd year

If you’re just tuning in, I’m dedicating the next few posts to my goals/progress for years 1 and 2 on the tenure track (a year 3 post will come once the summer is over). Now, on to year 2, which felt drastically better than year 1. We’d been in Portland for a full year, we were living in a more permanent space, we had solid friendships, and overall just felt a lot more settled. First, I’ll share what was going on during year 2…

In terms of teaching, I taught one course in the fall, one course in the winter, and two courses in the spring, advised 18 students and did 18 field visits during fall/spring. I had one course buyout from my startup package that was used to reduce my teaching load during winter. The course I taught in the fall was new to me, so there was a fair amount of prep that went into it. Although the classes I taught during winter and spring were the same courses I taught the prior year, they were in different formats (online and a 4-week intensive). I found that, compared to the 10-week “typical” quarter courses, I really liked teaching online and also in the 4-week intensive format.

In terms of work travel, this year was pretty low-key. I went to a conference in Atlanta in the fall and it was my first time leaving Ellie (which was really hard), and honestly, the first time when the 3 of us hadn’t been together for an “extended” (not long, just 3.5 days) period of time. Ellie was still nursing (definitely in the mornings and maybe at bedtime, I can’t remember), but I did not want to bring my pump. The trip was short enough that I decided to chance it and not bring the pump with. It worked out okay and we picked right back up with our routine when I got home, although I think that was probably the longest I could have gone without pumping/not being super uncomfortable. I also went to 2 local writing retreats that were put on by our department (at the beach about 1.5 hours away). Other than that, no other work trips.

As far as research went, I was really focused on funding applications because my startup buyouts were up at the end of year two. I applied for an internal grant to buy me at least another year of a reduced course load. I got the funding (woohoo!) and at the same time was annoyed that part of this job requires applying for funds so that I don’t have to do another part of my job (because it would be unmanageable to do all of them at once…). My service load was upped by one (because the previous year there was only space for me on one committee). Instead of serving on a specific committee, I was asked to serve as the lead instructor for one of the classes I teach, which in a lot of way feels more connected to my main tasks than some of the other service opportunities that are available.

As I mentioned, in our personal life, we were really feeling settled. We had a couple of families who we regularly hung out with and met a few more over the course of the year who we also clicked with. We hosted Thanksgiving at our house (a first for us!), took weekends and evenings to explore the area, and did a ton of house projects (really, most of that was Mike!). We even put Christmas lights up on our house and hosted Ellie’s 2nd birthday party at the house too! I started working out more consistently and feeling more like my old self. While my anxiety had greatly improved (and wasn’t significantly impacting my teaching), it was still present. We had started to talk about baby number 2 and I was definitely mentally not in space to be thinking about that. I didn’t have a great pregnancy or birth experience with Ellie. The birth experience in particular seemed to really be impacting me still. So… I found another therapist to work through the anxiety, dread, and mistrust of health care providers that came along with Ellie’s birth, making for an emotionally exhausting year. On a totally unrelated note, right before Christmas, we discovered that our cats had gotten fleas… which was just, so awesome. We spent the next few months after that constantly vacuuming and washing everything that could be vacuumed and/or washed. We got rid of them, but it was not without a great deal of effort.

We took our first long(ish) local trip during the summer of my second year (which is where the picture above is from, and also the picture for the main site). Three hours in a car with Ellie (who had recently been potty trained and had no interesting in falling asleep in the car) felt like an eternity, especially after she discovered that we’d pull over the car if she said, “I have to go pee-pee.” Driving on windy mountain roads with a screaming about having to pee is not a lot of fun. However, we did have a lot of fun on the actual trip, exploring Bend, OR and the surrounding areas, it was just the getting there that was a little dicey.

Alright, on to my year 2 goals.


research (goals met: 6 out of 7)

year two, I set my sights on getting some sort of funding because my startup buyouts would be all used up at the end of the year. I was not up for teaching a full load of 8 courses (or 5 plus a full advising load) and doing research and doing service. Also, I’m pretty sure there were a few R&R’s that aren’t reflected on this list.

  • Goal: submit 2 funding applications

    • Goal met? Half. I was 100% committed to the first funding submission which was a small faculty development fund. The second was an NIH application for loan repayment (which is structured the same way as a grant app)… side note, if you have a decent amount of student loans, your research falls within the scope of what NIH would fund, and you’re able to spend at least half of your time on research, you should check out the NIH Loan Repayment Program. I went back and forth about applying and ultimately decided against it… and then turned around and applied during year three. So… I did meet the second half of this goal later on!

  • Goal: Submit 3 papers

    • Goal met? Yes. Based on conversations I’ve had with numerous colleagues, I picked three as my magic submission number for each year. While I set goals for each individual paper I’m working on, I haven’t been picky about which ones actually get submitted. Its easier to meet this broad goal than the ones that are for each specific paper, which makes me feel better about myself! Plus, it allows me to be flexible when new opportunities come up. When working with collaborators, flexibility is key! So… I had 5 papers that could have been submitted, and 3 were submitted.

  • Goal: Start 1 new paper project with secondary data

    • Goal met? Meh… half? Things got off to a very preliminary start. If I’m just judging this based on starting, then sure, I met my goal. But… it didn’t get very far. This was a project with people from my doctoral program and I think because it was brand new, the distance slowed things down. Plus, other local opportunities kept coming up that took priority.

  • Goal: Start systematic review project

    • Goal met? Yes! Slowly but surely!

  • Goal: Submit 1 first authored conference presentation

    • Goal met? Yup… wasn’t accepted, but I submitted it!

  • Goal: Submit 1 co-authored conference presentation [Mid-way through the year I updated this to —> do 1 presentation for local stakeholders]

    • Goal met? Yes. I shifted my initial goal to account for the fact that I was going to be doing at least 1 (ended up being 2) local presentations. They weren’t for conferences, but rather for gatherings where lots of early childhood/maternal health people were. In a way, these felt more meaningful, because we were talking to the people who may actually use our research findings in their work with real people.

  • Goal: Do 1 article review

    • Goal met? Yes. Pretty sure I did 2, maybe 3.


teaching (goals met: 9 out of 10)

this was the year of trying different teaching styles out to see what felt good.

  • Goal: Prep for a research methods class

    • Goal met? Yes. All of my course prep this year (for research method, stats, and human development) involved making pretty big changes to my materials from the year before because I was teaching in different formats (or a totally new-to-me course). For the research methods and stats classes instead of a 10 week term with ~3 hour classes, I was teaching 4 times for 8 hours each. And then for human development, I was teaching this course both in person and online, for the first time. Needless to say, there was a significant amount of prep work involved across each class!

  • Goal: Teach 1 section of research methods

    • Goal met? Yes

  • Goal: Prep for a stats/data analysis class

    • Goal met? Yes

  • Goal: Teach 1 section of stats/data analysis class

    • Goal met? Yes

  • Prep for an online human development class

    • Goal met? Yes

  • Goal: Teach 1 online section of human development

    • Goal met? Yes

  • Goal: Advise 18 students

    • Goal met? Yes

  • Goal: Conduct 18 field visits during fall term

    • Goal met? Yes

  • Goal: Conduct 18 visits during spring term

    • Goal met? Yes

  • Goal: Prep for next year’s online research methods course during the summer

    • Goal met? Eh… not really. Knowing how much front end prep online courses take I had grand plans to do a lot of prep work during the summer. And then summer came and that was the last thing I wanted to do! I got organized, but didn’t do much beyond that.


service

like my first year, I didn’t set any service goals for the second year, other than serving on two required committees. I also reviewed scholarships for the same organization I did the year before. I also volunteered to review scholarship applications for the university and then backed out after I realized 50 things were going to hit and once and I wasn’t going to be able to give them the attention they deserved.


tenure (goals met: 1.5 out of 2)

  • Goal: Submit materials for my 1st year review

    • Goal met? Yes! They were due at the beginning of the year so I got to cross this one off early on.

  • Goal: Compile materials for my 3rd year review

    • Goal met? Half… kind of weird how this is set up. I didn’t have an annual 2nd year review, but instead had to submit my 3rd year materials half way through my 3rd year (so really it was like a 2.5 year review). I spent a little bit of time during the year getting things organized for this, and also during the summer. I didn’t finish getting things together, which is why I’m giving myself 1/2 points for this.


other (goals met: 0 out of 1)

my office move didn’t really fit in any of the other categories, so it’s getting it’s own!

  • Goal: Get settled into my office

    • Goal met? Ha! Nope… although it was a good thing I didn’t since I moved offices during my 3rd year.


personal (goals met: 6.5 out of 9)

I stopped setting work-life balance related goals (like work no more than 8 hours or no weekend work). I found that it felt like just one more thing to track, vs. actually something that I was meaningfully working towards, so I took them out.

  • Goal: Exercise 3 times per week

    • Goal met? Nope. Again, I’d go through spurts where I was good about this and other times where I wasn’t.

  • Goal: Create a list of non-TV things to do during downtime

    • Goal met? Yes. We were in a TV watching rut and I needed to pull myself out. I didn’t want to spend my free time staring at the magical black box, so I made myself think about all the other things I could be doing other than watching TV (and then doing them)!

  • Goal: Work up to a daily meditation practice

    • Goal met? No… sigh. Some day!

  • Goal: Do a round of the Whole30

    • Goal met? Yes. I did this in September, as the school year was starting. I’ve done Whole30-esque stuff before, and generally speaking we’re pretty good at staying away from processed food. I don’t know what it was about this go-round, but I felt pretty terrible the whole time. I couldn’t quite figure out what the issue was (I think partially because I needed to eat more carbs).

  • Goal: Potty train Ellie!!!

    • Goal met? YES! We did this during the summer after she turned two. She showed interest and we went with it, especially since I was off work. We followed the ‘Oh Crap!’ book and had excellent results. For all the sleep woes she has caused us, potty training was a breeze… somethings gotta be easy, right?!

  • Goal: Keep a journal as necessary

    • Goal met? Yes, as necessary meant I did this when I wanted to, which could have been every other day or every other month. Shifting the language made this easier to meet.

  • Goal: Plan and go on one local getaway

    • Goal met? Yes. We went to Bend during the summer and also made a last minute decision to go to Lincoln City (on the coast) for a few days during spring break after I found a cheap AirBnB.

  • Goal: Complete… a long string of house projects… tearing up the carpet in all the bedrooms (there’s hardwood underneath), getting my home office set up (Mike built me a desk), getting Ellie’s room set up, remove a rotting deck in the backyard (followed by Mike visiting the urgent care for a tetanus shot), putting down new flooring in the front room, starting to create built-ins in the front room

    • Goal met? Yeah, actually. Mike did the majority of the labor here, I supplied the ideas… it’s how we work.

  • Goal: Take a trip back east to see family

    • Goal met? Half. Mike and Ellie went. I was going to be out of the house for a writing retreat so instead of hanging out by themselves, Mike and Ellie decided to head east.

Next week I’ll post a few reflections on the things that were helpful during my second year.

goals for the second year on the tenure track