There are many tips I would offer to new academics. First, I would tell them to believe in themselves. Believe that you have the ability to do this job. It is no different from other jobs you have done in the past. Maintain your composure with students and be sure you are well prepared before you give lectures. I set high expectations and I won’t accept students using their phones, for example. I tell them that unless there is an emergency, there is no reason to be on the phone. I see myself as the ringmaster. I am myself and am fair and treat everyone equally. I have developed great friendships with Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese students who are well respected in their fields. When I visit S.E. Asia to lecture or research, they provide me with introductions to people they know.
When I commenced in this role no one ever told me how lecture. There was a bit of an expectation that I could walk into a lecture theatre and deliver. I learnt by attending a few lectures and, after an atrocious delivery, telling myself I would never lecture like that. For example, last year I attended one during which the lecturer just read through 75 PowerPoint slides.
Learning new technologies can be challenging because of the continual updates, and e-training is not always adequate. I handle emails as they come in. If I don’t have family commitments to attend to, on weekends I will watch sport on the TV and respond to student emails during the breaks. Students are generally appreciative and I don’t have to deal with a full inbox on a Monday morning. There are many academics who regard their weekends as sacrosanct, but this approach works for me.
Sometimes I find it annoying working around policies that are implemented to suit the University. They don’t make sense at the classroom level though. I call it a case of the ‘tail wagging the dog’. A recent example was when coordinators were told to introduce 15% of a unit’s assessment in the first four weeks to enable students to get a feel for a unit before the census date. In the first few weeks we have only covered the rudimentary parts of the course. This policy was rescinded last year but we were not told about it. There are many trivial things happening that can annoy me, but with experience I now prioritise and accept them. I tick the boxes I have to, and then move on.