Anyone who has attended one of my job market-related webinars knows that I always mention La Canadienne boots as an awesome option for cold-weather campus visits. Insulated for warmth, they are totally waterproof (“guaranteed waterproof for a period of six months”), have a highly grippable rubber sole for snow and ice, rounded toe for comfort in a lot of styles, and stable block or wedge heels. But the styling is so sleek, you’d never guess how functional they are. And they come in so many styles and heel heights.
They are, of course, impossibly expensive if bought right off the rack ($300-500). However, I’ve discovered it’s possible to find them at a deep discount second-hand on Poshmark and ThredUp. Quality second hand La Canadiennes can be had at places like this for $50-$150. Also, at 6PM.com, right about now, you can find previous year’s styles new [albeit in limited sizes] for about 1/3 of their usual price–like this pair for $149:
How do I know all this? Because this month I just bought my first pair in about a decade, and spent a solid week on the interwebz searching for a decent price. And… they’re as wonderful as they were back when I was an assistant professor looking for a sleek high heeled boot that could stand up to rainy Eugene, Oregon.
These days, at age 54, and running a business from my house where I pad around barefoot for most of every day, I’ve had to scale down my heel height a bit, and exchange my beloved pointed toes for rounded or square options, but I do still love a sleek black boot. The style I got is Jiji, and I found a great deal on them.
And I am here to tell you that I can once again vouch for the functionality of La Canadiennes. I wore my new pair for two solid very cold days of marching around the University of Vermont campus with my son last weekend, on his Admitted Student Visit, with almost no foot pain at all (which is saying something at my age), and staying warm and dry.
And because I know the brand from years back, I can say with confidence that, well cared for, they’ll hold their shape, comfort, and waterproof function for years. I wore my last pair for almost a decade.
I know that every time I give a webinar, and mention La Canadiennes, at least one person follows up to ask, “what was that brand again?” Comfortable, functional footwear for the campus visit – especially on snowy northern campuses – is a serious struggle. I’ve always felt anxious about recommending a brand that is so expensive, even though I always take pains to tell people to shop 6PM.com first. I’m just really glad that internet secondhand stores have brought this brand closer to an academic budget. I was just browsing ThredUp for this post, and saw these wedge style – on sale for about $100 (size 8).
and these in brown, for just $47 (size 8)
La Canadiennes are worth taking time to search for. They’re really worth whatever price you pay, and I’m glad to have a pair in my wardrobe again.
Giveaway: OK, so this post is definitely not about makeup! But I have a ton of new makeup and skincare samples to give away. So, comment on FB about boots or anything else related to makeup, skincare, or fashion and the academic life, and once again I’ll do a random giveaway for a collection of 5-6 unused or barely used samples – usually prestige brands!
Led by Dr. Jane Jones of Up In Consulting and Kel Weinhold, the course breaks down not just the parts of an academic article, and how to organize and write them, but also how to evaluate and target the optimal journals for your work.
This brand new course launches MONDAY April 1st, and registration for the first cohort is open, closing TOMORROW March 30. Best of all, your access to the content does not expire, ever.
Here is the story of how Art of the Article came to be. Kel Weinhold came on board at TPII as the Interview Intervention coach. As she worked, year after year, with anxious job candidates, she came to recognize the crushing Imposter Syndrome that was epidemic among this population. As a result, she created Unstuck: The Art of Productivity. Which is technically about productivity and getting your writing done for jobs and tenure, but is actually about (shhhh!) reclaiming your personal autonomy vis-a-vis an abusive system.
Unstuck: The Art of Productivity (which is still running, to great acclaim!) brought Kel into contact with hundreds of academics learning to overcome their writers block and get that “shitty first draft” of an article written in twelve weeks.
But lo, as Kel worked with them, she came to understand that a lot of clients actually didn’t know what an “article” actually is, or entails!
Things the Unstuck clients didn’t know included: how long should an article be? What elements are always included? How is one optimally organized? What are conventions for your particular field? How do you choose a target journal? How much time should I budget for each part? What are some tricks to doing some of the predictable basic parts like the methods section or lit review, or intro, or conclusion?
Kel realized there was a great need out there in academia-land for some instructions. So, she contacted Dr. Jane Jones of Up In Consulting, and together they made Art of the Article. The program gives you 10 weeks of posts and models and coaching videos to walk you step by step through the conceptualization and execution of an academic article. Even if the article you’re working on is far from your first, the program is still helpful in helping you stay focused, and avoid unproductive writing tangents.
Unstuck helps you identify and overcome barriers to all of your writing, and produce a messy first draft of a piece you want to work on by the end of the program. Art of the Academic Article , meanwhile, shows you exactly WHAT that article is supposed to look like: what an article must include, how it should be organized, and where it should be placed.
Also below, advice on how to ask your department to pay for your registration. Yes, it’s true: Departments will sometimes cover the costs for their faculty and graduate students to participate in programs like these
How To Get Your Department to Pay for the Course(s)
Your department might pay for your enrollment in this course, and the only you will find out is to ask. Don’t be afraid. Department heads get requests for funding all of the time. There is nothing shameful about it. In fact, learning how to ask is great practice for the rest of your career.
The best way to loosen the departmental purse strings is to show the money is going to solve a problem the department head considers worth solving.
So what problem does the course solve?
Maybe your department is worried about your pace of publication.
Maybe your department is focused on raising its profile.
Maybe your department has a stated desire to support underrepresented faculty.
You also have to show the stakes of not solving the problem.
You may not progress to tenure
The department’s output might lag.
You and the department might miss out on involvement in high profile projects and collaborations.
You may miss out on funding opportunities.
Stating the problem and stakes is not enough. You also have to show why this particular thing you are asking to be funded will solve the problem.
Why this course?
Why these people?
Here is an example email that you can use to approach your dean, department head or PI to make the request that the course be funded.
NOTE: PLEASE! DO NOT USE THESE EXAMPLES VERBATIM! WE HAVE THOUSANDS OF READERS AND CLIENTS, MANY IN THE SAME DEPARTMENTS. REPHRASE THE MODELS BELOW IN YOUR OWN WORDS!
I have an opportunity to enroll in a program designed for academics to produce a full draft of journal article in 10 weeks and I am requesting departmental support. The course is being offered by The Professor is In and Up In Consulting, two career services organizations with well-documented success in assisting academics in all phases of their careers.
The benefit of The Art of the Academic Article, over other programs, is not only the extensive experience of the two coaches offering guidance but also the ongoing access to the online material. I will be able to use the course material for not just this article, but all future ones as well.
As we have discussed, I have XX articles in progress that are necessary/would improve my third year review/tenure review/post doc production/chances of success on the job market. This course would assure that I produce xx articles in the next year. It also increases my chances of publication in the mostly highly ranked journals because it includes instruction on positioning both in terms of discipline and journal rank.
As we have discussed, one of the critical components of raising the profile of our department is to increase faculty publications and the quality of those publications. This course would assure that I produce xx articles in the next year. It also increases my chances of publication in the mostly highly ranked journals because it includes instruction on positioning both in terms of discipline and journal rank.
It is no secret that balancing research, service and teaching is a challenge for all junior faculty here at xx. With this course, I will have the resources to achieve the balance required for success. With your support, I will be able to avoid common problems like false starts, writer’s block, and perfectionism, while assuring I choose the best journals to target, and submit a draft to a strong journal in an efficient time frame. The next session of the course starts April 1st. Please let me know if you are willing to support this effort and I will purchase and submit the receipt for reimbursement/contact accounting to complete the registration/ xxx
I got the chance to meet a client-turned-R1 assistant professor at the AAA meetings, and I asked her what she found most helpful about the work with me. She took the time to write it out. This is what she wrote.
I finished my PhD in Anthropology in 2012, and after a year as a postdoc, got my dream tenure-track job at a private R1, in a city that I have always loved, with colleagues that I adore. About 80% of the people I went to school with have not been so lucky and lack permanent employment. I haven’t quite gotten over how ‘lucky’ I am to be’ let’ into the small and selective club of decently paid tenure-track professors, especially given the trailer park in which I started.
What I’ve come to realize is that my success was not just because of luck—there was a lot of hard work and strategy along the way. I grew up a mile away from a prestigious private R1, but we lived very much on the other side of the tracks. When I was in third grade, I knew I wanted to be an anthropologist, and tried to dress in field clothes for career day. My dad—then working a third shift factory job—told me to dress up as a nuclear physicist instead, because there was no such thing as getting a job as an anthropologist (I probably should have listened!).
While in high school I worked 20-30 hours a week in fast food, actively cultivating the reference letters from one fast food place to the next, in order to climb the ranks and get a better job (which generally involved less grease!). Thanks to those letters, I landed a volunteer and then paid position on an anthropologically focused project in the summers. I loved it. After that there was no turning back.
I chose a public university that excelled in my subject and was far away from my friends and family (on purpose—I was also in the process of coming out—but that is another story). Like a lot of first generation college students, I did not understand the ins-and-outs of university scholarships, grants, and loans, so I chose the school with the lowest sticker price. Despite financial hardship (5 maxed out credit cards, cash advancing rent when my loans paid out late, etc.), I really bloomed when I was there. I loved my subject, my professors, and my life.
One of my favorite memories is sitting in the office of one professor, who had just informed me that I had the top mark in his class and would I be interested in coming with him to the field? Another professor popped her head in and said, oh, she got the top mark in my class too! This was the first moment I ever really felt special. It was then that I started thriving on the dangerous drug of external validation, a slippery and addictive slope that Karen has described in many posts.
My excitement to go on to graduate school was tempered by my poor performance on the GREs. I didn’t have money to take a prep class, or to retake the test, which cost about as much as my rent for a month. This probably prevented me from getting into my top choices for graduate school.
After a Master’s at a second rate institution with one of the top people in my field, I got into all of the PhD programs that I applied for (I saved all of the acceptance letters and looked at them later, in moments of self-doubt). I chose a full funding, top-ranked program, but unfortunately my new advisor was not what I expected. We did not get along, I found many of his methods unethical, and after spending my first summer at his field site, I knew that I could not work in the same region.
Fortunately, around this time, a famous professor at one of the PhD programs I had applied to contacted me. Working with her proved to be a breath of fresh air—air so fresh that my conservative department didn’t want me breathing it. But she and I got along well, she challenged me, and my gut told me to continue working with her. I ended up with a much sexier PhD topic as a result of her savviness. Granting agencies loved it, and I was able to secure major awards (a critical thing to show to R1 jobs), despite a lack of intellectual support from most of my department.
I finished my PhD program quickly (this pace proved important to prospective employers, as it shows tenurability). I wrote the dissertation in nine terrible months in which my health suffered and my long-term relationship ended. The dissertation was more important. It was all consuming. I gave it more value than I gave myself. Professionally, I was well-rewarded for this psychosis–I got a major dissertation award and even a postdoc at the last minute.
The first thing I did with my new paycheck was to hire Karen to look over my documents. I had just discovered her blog. My cover letter was embarrassingly bad. I might as well have been fois gras packaged as generic cat food. Why?
Because I completely undervalued myself and my record, and undersold them in my letter.
Karen’s posts gave me the tools to package and sell myself in a confident manner. My record had what it takes—but I didn’t know that—and I certainly didn’t know how to sell it. I have always felt like a faker, as if one day, someone was going to figure out that I was just a skinny, scab-kneed kid from the trailer park and banish me from the ivory tower. This leads to a certain undervaluing of your skills and the tremendous effort that the transformation from trailer park to professor takes. Working with Karen helped me develop my professional voice and composure that both owned and sold my abilities.
As a result, I was short-listed at several institutions in my first real year on the market. I was offered the job at the first and second places I interviewed. Building on advice from Karen’s posts on negotiating, I used these competing offers to obtain what I wanted, which included a salary that will enable me to someday pay off the debt I generated during my undergraduate degree.
Very few people get the kind of job that I just got, and I was certainly lucky that my dream job opened up at the right time. In the last year I have went through some major transformations, the most important of which has been learning to value myself. This is very much a work in progress, despite my fancy job. And this is the second major thing that I have learned from Karen’s advice—success is a kind of psychosis that thrives on external validation. Being on the other side of the looking glass, it is terrifying to look back through it.
My advice: learn how to own, package, and practice your value. Show that value and your most awesome self in your cover letter.* Read that letter when you are feeling down and remind yourself that you are deserving, whatever your state of employment. Invest in your professional development and yourself by reading everything you can on the topic. Don’t sacrifice your happiness or personal life. You will regret it, no matter what kind of job you get. Don’t continue to sell your labor for pennies in the hope that you will someday be let into the club. You deserve basic human rights and dignity, and need to seek them in order to not end up like Mary Vojtko. The first step is learning to value yourself.
*Karen: but without any hint of bragging or cheap, grandiose adjectives, or begging.
Jane Jones, PhD is the founder of Up In Consulting,
an editing and consulting business. She works with academic writers as
well as writers of serious nonfiction to develop systems to sustain
effective writing routines and habits. In her capacity as an editor, she
provides developmental editing services to writers of articles, book
proposals, and book manuscripts.Jane earned her PhD in Sociology from New York University in 2010. She worked as a tenure-track assistant professor for three years, then was a fellow at the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). She started her business in 2014.
Jane is spearheading our new Art of the Article program, along with TPII Productivity Coach Kel Weinhold. AoA is our new 10-week course designed to walk you step-by-step through a full draft of an academic article. See the links at the bottom of this post to learn more, and register for the free webinar Jane and Kel are offering March 21, 1 PM EST.
When preparing an article for submission, there’s much to think about. From selecting a journal to writing the article to actually submitting the article, there are a lot of steps in the process. Unfortunately, many authors tend to ignore or rush through some of these steps, hurting their chances of a successful submission (which in most cases is a revise and resubmit).
In this post, I’m going to discuss some of the mistakes that authors commonly make when writing and submitting their articles. Although these errors are common, they’re completely avoidable. With good planning and research, you can avoid these mistakes and take some of the guesswork out of the submission process.
Here are five mistakes that most authors make:
You don’t put thought into where you’re submitting.
Many writers submit their article to a journal because their advisor told them to, or because it’s a journal they “have to” submit to in order to land a job, get promoted, etc. To be sure, there are plenty of factors that can influence your choice of journal. What that doesn’t give you permission to do, however, is skip out on your due diligence in researching the journal. When I say due diligence, I mean things like:
Reading recently published articles (“recently” meaning under the current editor)
Talking to colleagues or peers who have published in the journal
Checking to see if the editor has posted any information about their preferences for the journal (You’ll sometimes see editors posting on social media about their journals. They also write articles in outlets such as the Chronicle or even in their own journals!).
The good news is that researching a journal is easy. All you have to do is read, and you’re already an expert at reading!
You don’t review the guidelines
This is one of the easiest ways to frustrate an editor. Imagine being an editor, sifting through hundreds of articles, and coming across an article by an author who, in your estimation, couldn’t even be bothered to read your guidelines. Or, you receive a manuscript a few thousand words longer than it should be. You’d likely be irritated, right? It’s not the best first impression.
Formatting and word count might seem like minor, annoying requirements to you, but editors are constrained. It’s easy to forget that length is important because we read everything online, but journals normally have total page counts they must abide by. These aren’t negotiable. Following the guidelines makes the editor’s job easier and also makes your life easier, in that if you do make it through peer review, you’ll have less to fix later on in the process.
You don’t give yourself enough time to write your manuscript.
Good writing takes time, but in our publish or perish culture time isn’t always on our side. Unfortunately, writing and submitting quickly doesn’t give us an advantage. If anything, writing too fast leads to underdeveloped ideas and careless mistakes – neither of which makes our manuscript a strong candidate for publication.
I’ve worked with many clients who have told me, for instance, that they must submit at least 4 articles a year for publication if they hope to have a chance at getting tenure. What they don’t do, however, is make a writing plan to figure out if it’s realistic for them to achieve that goal. This normally has one of two consequences. First, they submit something they’re not proud of. Second, they spend so much longer than they planned on the article that they get discouraged, lose momentum, and let the manuscript languish on their desk with no end in sight. They end up with a headache instead of a submission. Sound familiar?
You don’t seek adequate feedback pre-submission.
It’s easy to get lost in your head while writing and believe that your manuscript makes perfect sense. Combine that with being pressed for time and you might believe that you either don’t need feedback or can’t afford to wait for it. In addition, you might believe your colleagues don’t have time to read your work. No matter the reason, the end result is you writing in isolation, without the type of critical feedback necessary to sharpen your writing.
It’s imperative to seek feedback on your writing before you submit. The journal reviewers should not be the first people to see your manuscript. Whether you present your ideas at a workshop, ask a colleague to read your draft, or work with an editor, a thoughtful, objective review of your work is essential and invaluable.
You don’t have a plan B.
The harsh truth of academic publishing is that rejection is common. Whether it’s a desk rejection or a rejection after you’ve spent time responding to peer-reviewers, knowing that you have to start over again can be awful. You might feel like there’s little hope for your article to ever get published.
Just because your article was rejected somewhere doesn’t mean it will be rejected everywhere. Peer-review is subjective and your article may not have been a good fit for that journal (especially if you made the first mistake I discussed!). Or, your article may not be ready for publication. In these cases, it really pays to have a backup plan.
Making a backup plan before you submit your article puts you in a strong position. If you do get a rejection, you’ll already have some of your next steps planned, and you won’t have to make tough decisions when you’re feeling the emotional toll of a rejection. You’ll be able to get your article under review at a second journal much faster.
In closing, the mistakes I discuss here are common, but also completely avoidable. But in order to avoid them, you must remember one thing: there’s more to a successful journal article than just writing.
Want to learn more? Join me, along with TPII productivity coach Kel Weinhold, for a Free Webinar on the Art of the Academic Article, March 21st at 1 p.m. Eastern. Register here.
Can’t make the time? No problem. Everyone who registers will get a recording of the webinar. Register here.
Want to learn more about Art of the Article, our new 10-week course designed to walk you step-by-step through a full draft of an academic article? Read more about Art of the Articlehere.
Some of you may know that Kel Weinhold and I decided to give ourselves a real, actual vacation for the first time since starting The Professor Is In, and we have spent the last week in Maui. Other than a few urgent tasks that can’t be avoided when one runs ones own business, we have truly vacationed.
And naturally, I have experimented with various products. Today, I report back to you. And no, this isn’t “working.” Because, I simply love writing about makeup. It’s actually entertainment!
First, just a few of the delights of West Maui and the nearby island of Lana’i (reachable by public ferry).
I think Hawai’i agrees with us!
OK, so what are the products?
First, Eyeko Beach Waterproof Mascara. Wow they are not kidding, this mascara stood up to an entire day on the beach including hours of snorkeling! While I don’t have great before and after pics, here’s an attempt.
Second, my fake tanner. Yes, I fake tan when I’m at the beach. I have fake tanned since the 1980s!! Ie, since the time of the bright orange tan in a can. I have the freckled Irish coloring of my mother’s side and I am paaaale! So I know these products and I know how bad and impossible they can be and all the ways they can go wrong–streakiness, bad color, or intolerably gross smell.
However, fake tan technology has undergone a revolution in recent years, and the products are now almost unbelievably a) easy and b) natural looking. There are so many options out there, and I suspect many of the high-end ones are fantastic, but I adore Tan-Luxe: The Water.
It looks exactly like water, goes on clear, never stains clothes or sheets, has no discernible smell, and a few hours after application develops into the most natural looking and long-lasting, streak-free tan I’ve ever had from a fake-tanner. Again, I don’t have great pics, because beach lighting is impossible, but here is one; toes show my natural color.
Pro-Tip: Must apply with a mitt. Don’t even think about skipping that. You don’t need a fancy one–just get some basic $6 or $8 one, but you just won’t get smooth streak-free application without it.
Pro-Tip 2: ALWAYS WASH YOUR HANDS AFTER APPLICATION
Pro-Tip 3: The Water is not ideal for face; they make Self-Tan Drops that work better.
Pro-Tip 4: As you can see from my photo above, I transfer it into a travel size spray bottle to take with me on beach trips!
Third: This astonishing Peter Thomas Roth powder sunscreen that I only bought because I found it super cheap at TJ Maxx, but which has made me a believer. I’m never going to use anything else on my face! It’s entirely mineral, meaning it’s completely reef-safe (a non-negotiable for me), and also because it’s mineral: I HAVE NO ALLERGIC REACTION TO IT, HALLELUJIAH! This means I can swim with no eye-sting! And the sunscreen effectiveness is off the charts. Also, it goes on in a little poof that is fun, AND it has a slight brown tint that just boosts your color a tad. They also make one for oily skin.
Pro-Tip: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE always use only reef-safe mineral sunscreen (ie ONLY zinc oxide or titanium oxide–nothing else). Please save our dying reefs!
GIVEAWAY UPDATE: Thanks to all who commented on the last #MakeupMonday! We have our winner: Dr. Catherine Girard, Asst Prof of Art History at Eastern Washington (shared with permission). Catherine says: “Wow!! This is such great news! Thank you! Self-care is my resolution for this year.” She will get a package of about 5 unused or barely used samples from my stash!
Let’s continue–comment on Facebook on this post when I share it, and I’ll do another giveaway next week!
OK, most of us don’t really see things on TV per se, anymore – now it’s all targeted social media ads. But anyway, I am here today to share that I have traveled far, far down this road. The fact is, Facebook Ads get me. They really do. They are mine, and I am theirs.
And now I own four things that FB delivered up to my consciousness, and I absolutely love all of them.
What can I say? This and only this has finally solved my false lashes quest. I cannot and will not use glue-on types – even when I can get them to work (about 35% of the time) I cannot get glued lashes clean enough afterward to reuse, and I am not about to throw them out and use a new pair every time.
But MoxieLash? Whoa—it really works! You apply a thin line of magnetic liner, then stick on your magnetic lashes, and THEY STICK! And then they pop back off, and you put them in their little magnetic holder, and then use them again the next day!
Bonus: you can use any magnetic lash with the liner. In other words, you can score some Ardell at TJ Maxx for $6.99 or get them BOGO at Sally Beauty or wherever, and use those! You aren’t trapped into using $35 MoxieLash lashes. And truth be told, I kind of prefer the Ardell.
Note: I cut my false lashes into fragments of about a quarter inch to half inch in length and apply them ONLY to the outer corners of my eyes. This is all I really want or need to have an impact that is still what I consider appropriate to my age and style. No massive fake lashes for me!
Protip: Applying the thick liner in a line thick enough to work, but thin enough to be (what I consider) age- and academic workplace-appropriate takes practice and a skilled hand and a very, very good brush. The brush they give you is ok, but not great. I have found far better results with this odd little “bent” brush from Sephora.
Don’t be put off by the truly scary looking pictures on the website. This thing works, and used well, produces natural looking results that truly last–as in, to day two and day three between washings. Basically it crimps your hair at its base, and as long as you leave an uncrimped layer on top, to cover it, it stays invisible. On my short, thick, heavy hair, it works wonders to give lift up at the crown of my head.
Protip: It takes practice–don’t give up. Use the clips they provide to section off your hair. The trick is figuring out which hair to crimp, and how long to crimp it for, and then how best to manage the hair on top. I found using a regular straightener there makes for an A+ outcome.
I know, I know, I have sworn by my Eyeko Sport Mascara for over two years now! But lately I’ve been unhappy with the formula–i feel like it’s different, and clumpy, and hard to manage. So I’ve been starting to look around for something new. And FB was right there, anticipating my needs in a way that is not creepy at all.
And finally, I gave in, and made the Causemetics purchase, and…. wow, it’s FANTASTIC. It goes on slick and smooth, no clumps at all, and stays buildable through a couple of coats.
As you might remember, I have two non-negotiables with mascara: that it is mega- super- extra- long-lasting (even through dance classes), and that I’m not allergic to it (which is DIFFERENT from “hypoallergenic,” because I am frequently allergic to things that are allegedly hypoallergenic). So far, Thrive Causemetics has passed both with flying colors (although I want to put it through a few more tests and I’ll report back). BTW, I’m also trying out Eyeko Beach Waterproof just to see, but reviews say that it’s almost impossible to remove, while I can vouch that Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions washes right off–like all brands that use awesome Korean tubing technology always do. It’s the best!
This is my original “As Seen on the Internet” love, and it’s still the Gold Standard. And don’t just believe me! It’s so good that the brand’s been picked up by Ulta! Every item I’ve tried from this black-woman-owned brand has been superb, and I wear Syruptitious Lip Whip almost every single day. Trust me–if you like a truly opaque matte lipcolor, and want one that won’t budge for like 72 hours (or until you literally remove it with a dedicated lipcolor remover) — this is your jam.
Hey– Let’s bring back the giveaway!
Comment ON FACEBOOK about your #Makeup (or #Skincare) life, and I’ll randomly pick a commenter to get a package of unused or barely used skincare and makeup samples – mostly prestige brands! While I recently donated a huge bag of these to a friend in Eugene who has launched her own small business and wanted some products to use for a new video marketing series she’s planning, I still have some to share!
Dr. Kate Dugan completed her PhD in Religious Studies from Northwestern University in 2015. She spent two years on the job market before accepting an offer at a teaching-intensive college. She is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Springfield College in Massachusetts and studies contemporary Catholicism in the U.S. Kate offers Teaching Demonstration interventions and document work for clients of TPII.
One thing is clear about the teaching demonstration part of on-campus interviews: a candidate must not go over time in a teaching demonstration.
Time management sounds annoying—or, at least, pedantic. But giving a teaching demonstration that has good time management demonstrates your skills as a teaching colleague. It shows that you know how to be in charge in a classroom. Your swift and thoughtful management of the allotted 30 or 40 minutes shows a high level of competence. Remember: you want them to be confident that you’ll step onto campus ready to teach (and not in need of too much caretaking). Being able to manage time reflects your broader capacity to contribute productively to the department. And, frankly, giving a teaching demonstration within the allotted time demonstrates your ability to respect what others ask of you.
I want to share four ways to manage the 30, 40 or 60 minutes you have to show your potential colleagues your strengths as a professor.
Wear a watch.
I know it sounds like a throw-back suggestion, but looking at your phone during a teaching demonstration is sloppy (never mind distracting). And you can’t assume that the classroom you’re going to be in will have a clock—or, even if it does, that you’ll be able to see it without craning your neck. So: borrow one from a friend or buy a new one (I bought the one I wore for my demonstrations for $8 at Wal-mart) and put it on your wrist.
Practice. Practice again.
I think Karen’s advice to practice answers to anticipated questions and to learn your job talk inside and out has sunk in. Candidates know to prepare answers to committee member’s questions well enough to be flexible in them.
But because teaching—especially in the Humanities—continues to exist in the realm of feelings, I find a hesitancy to do the same kind of rehearsing when it comes to the teaching demonstration. I have people tell me that they “don’t do notes for teaching” and they can’t really prepare because they “like to have a feel for the room” and “it really depends on how the students are.”
Look. I get it. I teach 100+ students each semester. I understand how variable a classroom can be—I can do the **exact** same plan for two back-to-back classes in the same classroom and have the classes be really different. The vibe, the mood, the energy level of college students can be hard to predict. And that is all compounded when you don’t actually know any of the students in your class.
But here’s the thing. The teaching demo IS. NOT. THE. SAME. AS. TEACHING. I can list all the ways this is true, but that’s a different blog post. If you’re unconvinced, ask yourself when the last time is that you spend **this much** time preparing for your Friday at 11am intro course.
Practice your plan with a clear sense of how long each thing will take you. Be clear on not just the order of the outline, but how you’ll transition and how much time shifting the students to small groups will take. Here are a couple of ways to do this:
Walk through the introductions to each of your activities with a friend (or, better yet, a group of undergrads) six or seven times. Make sure the instructions are clear and that your audience understands—immediately—what they are being asked to do.
Practice your 10-15 minute mini-lecture. Get your presentation smooth. Anticipate where students will ask questions. Plan how you will engage students.
Practice your transitions. Think about how you will move from analyzing an image to discussing a short video clip. Plan how long it will take you to introduce a Think-Pair-Share activity. Anticipate how many minutes you need to let students read a short paragraph.
Write down the time you need to do each part of the demonstration.
Realistically—realistically—anticipate how long things are going to take. I am sorry, but you **cannot** get through 45 powerpoint slides in 15 minutes. In general, if you have 40 minutes to do the demonstration, you have time for three, maybe four, different parts: an introductory activity, a mini-lecture, a set of discussions or collective work on a problem, and a closing activity.
You’ll be nervous in front of a group of students you don’t know and a handful of faculty who are evaluating you. Time has a way of feeling warped during teaching demonstrations. Even if you have only the sparsest of notes for your plan, include the amount of time you’ve planned for each part of the demonstration.
Create a (well-timed) back-up.
Even the best-laid plans can squirrel out of control because of questions from students or quirks of a particular situation. Anticipate this. Know what you can cut and how much time it will save you. Have an extra activity or discussion question you can insert—and know how much time it will add.
Bonus strategy: I find that candidates facing a teaching demonstration want their plans to include going around the room and everyone’s name and a tidbit about them. I understand this instinct. You want to demonstrate, especially at a teaching-intensive institution, that you care about students enough to get to know them. But, really, when there are 20-50 students in the room, there just isn’t time. Or, rather, you need that time to demonstrate how you help students analyze images or discuss a confusing paragraph or approach a difficult topic. An alternative idea (that isn’t mine, but I’ve used!) is to bring name tags or index cards for making name placards. Spend three minutes doing this, catch a few names, and then using the name labels during the class session.
Keeping your teaching demonstration well-paced and done on time allows your teaching skills to shine. It keeps the committee members from getting anxious about the schedule. You’ll avoid that distracting shuffle of students packing up their bags as you summarize the take-aways from the lesson. Wow them with your teaching; impress them with your time management.
Kellee is recently obsessed with the painter, Remedios Varo (1908-1963), who was born in Spain but spent most of her artistic life in Mexico. Like most women painters, she is vastly underrecognized, even though she made a major feminist intervention into the prevailing surrealist ethos of her time.
In the one substantial edition available of her works, we found the picture called “Rupture” (1955). I instantly connected to it–never have I seen myself so perfectly represented in a piece of art, I said.
The next day, Kellee remarked: “That piece is also the most perfect image of leaving the academy imaginable!”
We studied it. “Yes!” I said, “the isolation!” Kellee: “the staring, judging men!” Me: “the tower!” Kellee: “the papers blowing behind you!” Me: “the glowering oppressiveness!” Kellee: “All those… EYES…”
So, here it is. I present to you: Rupture, by Remedios Varo.
From Crystal Lake: “Thank you for helping get the word out about the true nature of this job ad. I’m a striking faculty member at Wright State. I have loved working here since 2011 thanks in no small part to our strong faculty union. Our union has worked hard to protect our working conditions. Our union has also worked hard to ensure that the expectations for promotion and tenure here are reasonable and that the process is transparent. I’m hoping that when this is all said and done, the union’s voice is the one that people will remember about Wright State and that faculty governance will be restored as a defining feature of our institutional culture–and that we can all look forward to a day when Wright State’s job ads will return to honoring the integrity of academic labor and we can all be excited to welcome new colleagues into our ranks and our union.”
From striking faculty member Christopher DeWeese: “Thanks for sharing. I teach at Wright State, and you can bet that if what the admin is trying out works here, it will become the playbook for union busting everywhere. We need all of your eyes to watch our struggle, please.”
From striking Anthropologist Amelia Hubbard: “Thanks for your support. I am a striking faculty member in Anthropology. We have conceded $8 million in this negotiation and offered a significantly worse contract than we’ve ever had, all while protecting both tenure track AND full time (non tenure track) instructors and lecturers. This is a fight for control of the academic mission, not money and will dictate other unions’ abilities to negotiate in our home state. This sets a precedent nationally. These fights matter, because the goal is to bust unions (and as others in this thread without unions have noted… universities are operating on bottom lines over the ethical treatment of their employees).”
From striking faculty member Sarah McGinley: “Thank you! I’m striking WSU faculty and we are fighting not just for ourselves and our students, but for higher ed everywhere.”
TPII Editor Maggie Levantovskaya kindly gifted me a copy of Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom’s book Thick last week. (I took a selfie with the book to send Maggie as part of my thank yous, and we had a moment of appreciation for the way my lipcolor (BeautyBakerie Lip Whip in Take Me to Pomegranate) picked up the color of the subtitle. OK, that’s the makeup part of this post. Beauty Bakerie is black woman owned and dedicated to makeup for ALL. Support them! Moving on.)
The book is a tour de force, written by the author, who is a Professor of Sociology at VCU, to encompass, as the Kirkus Review says, “the whole range of her being” – her academic expertise and her pain and fury living as a black woman in America.
I am stepping through the book slowly, taking the time to sit with each chapter. I hope you will read it. This week, for #MakeupMonday (I’ve been working on it all week!) I want to share the second chapter, “In the Name of Beauty.”
The chapter makes a simple and devastating claim: a black woman cannot be ‘beautiful’ in America in 2019. This has nothing to do with how any individual black woman actually looks. It has everything to do with the fact that in a society dominated absolutely by the valorization of whiteness, anything that contradicts whiteness must be seen as un-beautiful. The origin of the chapter is a piece McMillan Cottom wrote in 2012 stating “blithely,” in her words, “the observable fact that I am unattractive.”
This claim produced an intense reaction from black women, white women, and black men. Nobody was happy with it, or with McMillan Cottom for making it. The chapter walks us through why. But she’s not having it.
“For beauty to function as it should, it must exclude me. Big Beauty-the structure of who can be beautiful, the stories we tell about beauty, the value we assign beauty, the power given to those with beauty, the disciplining effect of the fear of losing beauty you might possess–definitionally excludes the kind of blackness I carry in my history and my bones. Beauty is for white women, if not for all white women.”
McMillan Cottom’s claim is not, emphatically, about acquiescing in, ie, internalizing, negative white judgment about black looks – hers or anyone else’s. It’s about objectively observing that in a racist white society, whiteness circumscribes the bounds of “beauty.” As she writes, “I sound like I am internalizing a white standard of beauty that black women fight hard to rise above. But my truth is quite the opposite. When oppressed people become complicit in their oppression, joining the dominant class in their ideas about what we are, it is symbolic violence.”
Beauty in this way is always in the service to property, specifically, white monopolization of capital.
In other words, attempts to reclaim particular kinds of black beauty reenact the violence of capital that is always, in the end, in the service of whiteness.
“That’s why beauty can never be about preference. ‘I just like what I like’ is always a capitalist lie. Beauty would be a useless concept for capital if it were only a preference in the purest sense. Capital demands that beauty be coercive. If beauty matters at all to how people perceive you, how institutions treat you, which rules are applied to you, and what choices you can make, then beauty must also be a structure of patterns, institutions, and exchanges that eats your preferences for lunch.”
Shorter version I: “(if) I believe that I can become beautiful, I become an economic subject. My desire becomes a market.”
Shorter version II: “If beauty is to matter at all for capital, it can never be for black women.”
Thus it doesn’t really matter that this or that individual black woman has been elevated as beautiful, or that beauty standards evolve, seemingly becoming more embracing of variety. Because in the end beauty-capital – and all capital – only flows in one way.
“When white feminists catalogue how beauty standards over time have changed, from the ‘curvier’ Marilyn Monroe to the skeletal Twiggy to the synthetic-athletic Pamela Anderson, their archetypes belie beauty’s true function: whiteness. Whiteness exists as a response to blackness. Whiteness is a violent sociocultural regime legitimized by property to always make clear who is black by fastidiously delineating who is officially white. It would stand to reason that beauty’s ultimate function is to exclude blackness…. As long as beautiful people are white, what is beautiful at any given time can be renegotiated without redistributing capital from white to nonwhite people.”
Leading to the gut punch: “When I say that I am unattractive or ugly, I am not internalizing the dominant culture’s assessment of me. I am naming what has been done to me. And signaling who did it.”
So, all this alone would be a chapter.
But this is not the end of the chapter.
Because then McMillan Cottom invites us to share the ways that white women (and some black men) reacted to this claim. Reacted, that is, “with impassioned cases for how beautiful I am.” She writes,” [White women] offered me neoliberal self-help nonsense that borders on the religious. They need me to believe beauty is both achievable and individual…”
White women’s desperate efforts to show beauty as individual and achievable have an implicit (and likely unconscious) agenda: to make the author the object of revision, rather than white capitalist supremacy.
“It may seem to privileged people,” McMillan Cottom observes, “that it is easier to fix me than it is to fix the world.”
“I live to disabuse people of that notion,” she notes, in one of her countless devastating seemingly throwaway lines.
Why do white women need to individualize, or personalize, beauty? “Because the alternative makes them vulnerable. If you did not earn beauty, never had the real power to reject it, then you as much a vulnerable subject as I am in your own way.”
To which McMillan Cottom remarks: “deal with that [vulnerability] rather than dealing with me.”
I had a sudden thought for how a conversation would go, among my liberal white women friends who have “good” politics, if I were to, say, report to them the point of this chapter: “This black sociologist says that in the eyes of America, she is unattractive.” “Oh no! No no no!” they would respond in utter, wide-eyed, horror. “Of COURSE not! She’s BEAUTIFUL!” “Yes but she’s claiming that to say that only white women are defined as ‘beautiful’ due to the dominance of whiteness, ie, white supremacy, in the service of capitalism.” “Well that’s just WRONG! *I* don’t believe that! Maybe before but not now! Look at Lupita Nyong’o! She’s GORGEOUS!”
This is exactly what McMillan Cottom is writing about. I know she’s right. Why would this happen? Because, I can feel in my very bones, without literal years of dedicated anti-racism work, we white women will always disavow the privilege that we KNOW (at very deep and unspoken levels) we have.
And again, all of this is in the service of capital. “All of the admonishments that I should ‘love myself,’ and am ‘as cute as a button,’ from well-intentioned white women stem from their need for me to consume what is produced for them.”
“White women need me to believe I can earn beauty, because when I want what I cannot have, what they have becomes all the more valuable.”
“I refuse them,” McMillan Cottom responds.
This chapter does much more than my brief summary here, especially around the responses by black men. But this is a #MakeupMonday post, so I’ll stop here.
This chapter is about makeup and not about makeup. The author expresses no opinions on that point. I’ve seen her chat about makeup on Twitter, and she seems to have no issue with it. Use makeup or don’t, you are still operating in the field of “beauty” that will exact its price regardless of what you want. Nobody gets secure access to that field because even “beautiful” white women occupy it only temporarily, and meanwhile it evolves continually to constantly renew its markets by destabilizing consumers.
So, what’s the right move, here?
“I want nice people with nice enough politics to look at me, reason for themselves that I am worthy, and feel convicted when the world does not agree. God willing they may one day extrapolate my specific case to the general rules, seeing the way oppression marginalizes others to their personal benefit.”
The issue is less about what you purchase, and more about, purchasing or not, you are situated in a beauty economy that must exclude blackness, as part of its determination to elevate whiteness and make black girls and women abject.
“It is actually blackness, as it has been created through the history of colonization, imperialism and domination, that excludes me from the forces of beauty.”
Black girls and women are deprived of childhood, never seen as young and innocent, considered simultaneously incompetent and dangerous, punished excessively, deprived of safe childbirth (the subject of another devastating chapter in Thick), and in grave danger when seeking medical care. Because black women are seen as not deserving. As Tressie McMillan Cottom shows us, the lie is in denying this reality, not trying to cover it over with a good (indeed even a Fenty) foundation.