I (Clare) have just returned from AERA. One of the highlights of the conference for me was my work with new faculty. Division K (Teaching and Teacher Education) offers a preconference for new faculty and I was one of the organizers for it. Along with my fellow facilitators, Renee Clift, Rich Milner, Tom Dana, and Valerie Kinloch, we worked with 30 new faculty. On the first day of the preconference we began with the Facilitators sharing their stories – successes and challenges – which helped create an open environment. The participants then shared their stories. It was clear that all were committed to being the best faculty they could be, all had some successes the past year, and the transition to their new role has had some bumps. On the second day we broke into small groups where we addressed: mentoring (finding a mentor and/or academic community); tenure and promotion process; research and publishing; and balancing work and family life. We concluded with each person sharing a “take away” that is something they plan to work on over the next few months.
I have been involved in the Division K Preconference for a number of years and this year was particularly special. The Facilitators had so much to share but they created space for the participants. We came together as a community and connections were made among all of us. This kind of support for new faculty is so important because as the literature reveals (e.g., Murray and Male’s work) that the transition from classroom teacher/graduate student to an academic position is not straightforward. There are issues of identity, workplace norms, pedagogy for higher education, academic community, pressure to publish, and …. I know that as a new faculty I would have appreciated having a mentor, a place to ask questions, and to know that what I was experiencing is “typical”.