Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Step by Step, All Part of the Process

Those on Twitter and Facebook have probably seen the tweet/update I made earlier today saying that I received the letter from the first level of the tenure process, and it recommends "unanimously and enthusiastically" that I be given tenure. It's not a done deal. I should get a letter from the second level in a couple of weeks. Then, it goes up further, and I'll hear more in January. It should all be done in February. It's not done, but I am closer.

You know how there are lots of television shows now that show people playing poker? Well, one of the things that those shows do is put up percentages showing how close each hand is to winning the game. The more cards that go down, the more percentages rise or fall. I feel like getting this letter has pushed my percentage up much higher than it was, and it feels good.

But this post isn't really about that. It's more about the fact that I posted that information on Twitter and Facebook (and am talking about it here). A friend questioned whether I should be talking about it so publicly in the middle of the process. I did pause before I posted that update earlier, but it seemed the right thing to do. I think one reason why the tenure process terrifies so many of us is the fact that it's kept so private. It's mysterious.

Anyone in my life knows that I'm up for tenure this year, and just about everyone knows what's at stake. Some people in my family find the process strange and confusing, which it is. But everyone knows I'm doing it. So I talk about it. And if I don't get it? You can bet I'll talk about it more. Each person I know who has not gotten tenure hasn't been able to keep it private. Sure, they can keep some details private, but it's still public knowledge that "something happened." If I don't get it, I'll want to talk about it help others behind me learn from my mistakes. And if I do, I'll want to celebrate it.

Talking about such things on blogs or other sites is often questioned. The funny thing about my tenure application, which I will probably talk about more later when it's all said and done, is that the blog is a part of my package. I talked about it in some detail, and the letter I received today mentioned it as part of the evidence for their recommendation. It's been a part of my teaching and service. And I argue that it's a part of my professional development (not scholarship, but professional development). I'm able to list several ways it's played a role in my professional life, including speaking engagements I've been invited to give after someone found the blog or other things. The blog has taken on a much bigger role in my professional life than I ever expected, and that's pretty cool.

For now, one big step is done. There are others to follow. But I will sleep a bit better tonight, though.

ETA: A study showing the blogging can benefit people on the job marker (at least in public relations).

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