My personal guide of lecturing

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April this year I have lectured for 12 years. I have taught various subjects in undergraduate courses and master courses.

Based on this experience, I would like to share some of my personal guide of lecturing and delivering a course.

Planning

Last semester i taught postgraduate degree course on Project and Change Management. One of the thing that the reference stated intrigued me:

If you don’t have a time to plan, then plan to fail

When I just started lecturing, I did not pay enough attention on planning the course. Yes, I have a course outline, but I did not plan in detail the learning outcome for each meeting, the assessment and course work. So, I have to play catch up every time I must give a lecture. Plus, the end of terms marking became so unbearable.

Now, I really forced myself to plan the course beforehand down to a single assessment. Every time a course work is submitted or assessments are conducted I tried to assess them straight away. This way I can provide feedback to the students about their work and I can also spread the load of the marking.

Know the materials

As part of planning the course, I first make sure that I know the materials that I will deliver. Obviously, you will be more comfortable teaching a subject that you know well. But even then you might need to update some of the materials to reflect current trend. I have taught Supply Chain Management and Enterprise Resource Planning Courses for years, but I try to renew the materials each time I will deliver the courses. Then, you might also want to adjust the coursework and assessment.

If you are delivering a course that you are unfamiliar with, the planning will take longer. Last year I must teach Writing and Scientific Method course. It was quite challenging because some of the materials include philosophy of science. I must try real hard to learn about it first, before teaching.

Enlist some Help

During the planning stage, you might also want to consider to enlist the help that you might need. I usually enlist the help of senior students for grading some coursework, as well as assistant for practice and laboratory work.

Delivering the Course

Know your audience

Now that we have the plan, its time to deliver the lecture. In the early days of my teaching, I did not think knowing the audience will be important. But, one time, I must teach a master degree course in front of all male participants and one of them happen to be a senior lecturer in my department. It was quite shocking for me…fortunately, the senior lecturer can sense my nerve and I then just put the cat out of the bag by acknowledging that I am actually quite nervous ๐Ÿ™‚

Since then I always make sure that I know the participants before I started. This way, I can mapped them out and can customize the course according to their needs. Delivering the same course to a different audience may require different strategy.

Develop your own style ๐Ÿ˜‰

I tend to make my class quite relax. I also break the pace of the classes with a lot of exercises and discussion. I make sure that I give a lot of examples that the students can relate too. If not, you will end up talking to yourself while the students thinking about their lunch or dinner. But, this one is a personal preference. I know some lecturer who still write on the boards and have their back against the students throughout most of the lecturer.

I also try to remember the students name. Then I can make sure their engagement. You know sometimes you ask a question and nobody answer. If you remember their names, then you can start calling them one by one. This is one of my trick for class involvement. I chose the sleepy one, the quiet one or the joker one. Even if their answer is way off the target, at least it will keep them awake and encourage other to join in.

Prepare for the unknown

Plan is there to guide you. But, circumstances vary a lot. One time, I must stop my class because I discovered some students are forging their signature. Yes, the system in Indonesia still count students attendance. Another time, the class is so sleepy that I must create a pop quiz to wake them up.

Basically, there is no greater torture than you talking your heart out to a sleepy class.

Finishing

When you finish the entire lecture, spend some time to evaluate the entire course that you just deliver. Which part is the most challenging, which one need more time, which assessment need adjustment. Then, if you have to deliver the course again next year you can start with a good plan already.

Hope this is useful to you.

As Tim Minchin Life Lessons number 6. Be a Teacher

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Getting a Class Involvement

In every population, Pareto Rules typically apply. In a classroom, 20% of the students contribute to 80% of discussion.

In my years as a lecturer, I often noticed that there are outstanding students who has all it takes to be top of the class. They usually sit in the front of the class and lead discussion with their thoughts.

But, if we allow these students to take most of the time in the discussion, the rest of the class will happily serve as passive listeners.

Therefore, in order to get the entire class excited about the topic, I often asked the opinion of who I called as the silent observer or even the joker. The silent observers are those who actually quite capable but sometimes shy, lack the desire to speak or just uninterested with the topics. The joker on the other hand are those who every one like to tease. This way you will ensure that these students are not falling asleep and actually made them exercise their brain. Secondly, while their answer may not be correct if not totally missed the mark, their opinion usually intrigued other to participate. It worked well for me all these years. In fact, some of those silent observer and joker even chose me to be their supervisors later on ๐Ÿ˜€

Final note, this tips will require you to know your students well. So, in the beginning of the course make sure you do a background check or a post test.

What You Dont Learn in School, But is Needed at Work

During my days doing administrative work, I got a great opportunity to work with various people from various background. Originally I supervised around 16 people with the help of supervisors. But changes in the organizational structure made the organization flatter. At one point I have no supervisors and work directly with the staff.

It was then that I learned several work ability that may not being taught formally in schools but are needed at work.

Here I tried to list them down.

Personal work ethics

  1. Motivation. Nothing is more difficult than working with someone who has no real motivation to work. I noticed that some staff who may not have the technical skill but can work better because they feel motivated. On the contrary, highly skilled staff who lacks the motivation may be difficult to work with. They tend to work only as needed and did not take real satisfaction in doing their work. Which bring me to the second one.
  2. Doing something of high quality. Some people really value what they are doing so they ensure that the job produces high quality result. For example, those in charge with typing a letter will check if the letter is typo free.
  3. Create something from start to finish. Some people will be satisfied with finishing their own tasks. But, those who value their job will ensure that the entire task can achieve the desired goals. This is the most difficult aspect as it require people to think their tasks as interrelated i.e. a process.
  4. Time management. Often times we are overwhelmed with the many tasks that we must do. So, time management skills are really important..it is not just about working fast and smart but also managing/prioritising the tasks within the most scarce resource i.e. time.
  5. Neat, tidy, orderly. While this maybe a personal style (some people are more tidy than another), many work environment will value a neat and tidy worker. But there are some people that prefer a more “creative” and unorderdly way of working.

How to Work With others

  1. Helpful. I noticed that some people are genuinely more helpful than others. These people will go out of their way making sure they help their team. While they are perhaps not the most technically gifted worker, they certainly are the most popular at the workplace.
  2. Tolerance. Working in a team of people with different characters, skills and background will certainly need tolerance.

Communication

  1. Talk to different types of person with great care. If you want to survive at work you will certainly need to hone in your communication skills. You must know how to converse with various people with different personalities in different level of position.
  2. Giving and receiving feedback. Sometimes the most difficult thing to do for your colleague is to give positive feedback. Similarly, if you wanna succeed you also need to be able to receive feedback. In Indonesia, like many Eastern culture where people tend to talk down negativity, providing constructive feedback need to be done carefully to avoid the risk of seemingly shaming people.

Finally, there are also some traits from Leader that will be helpful in the workplace.

  1. Clarity. As a leader you have to be clear in providing direction be it the long terms goal, or direction for small tasks. Different people from different level or position may require different types of direction.
  2. Fairness. People like to be treated fairly. As a leader be it leader of a team or leader of a department, you have to be fair to all your staffs.
  3. So, those are my lists. Some of the things are notes to myself since I also need to improve my skills on those area.

The Trial and Tribulation of Life as an Academia

Its the first week of January, and I already felt the spirit of New Year has deflated a little…

Perhaps because I spent the last weeks of 2017 in Bali. So, upon returning I felt a little overwhelmed.

As many organizations, we academics also felt a lot of pressure in December. Its the end of semester, which means piles of marking to go through. Having done this for over ten years now, I already work out strategies. In the beginning of the semester I develop Course Planning, which state clearly the assignments and grading required for the course. With this planning I can see what I need to do to ensure that the grading part is less painful. I try so hard to disciplined myself by doing the marking as soon as the assignments, quizzes and exams took place. For some assignments (less complicated with clear answers) I enlisted the help of one or two graders. Of course there are some assignments (projects, essays) and examinations that I must do myself. But, I can safely say that I managed to do it.

What I did not take into account is at the same time, we also have to fill in our achievements of the year for performance measurement purpose. The performance measurement systems in our institution this year are a little different than last years. We have to put every documentation about our research and community service activities online. Its a lot of work, but I know that it will safe us a lot of time in the future. But, still it means I allocate some time to do it. Another things that we lecturer need to do is to supervise our students, undergraduate and masters students. The time to do this cannot be stated clearly because it in itself is a mini project that depends on the subjects, the students and stakeholders.

In the meantime, the girls are having their semesters break from mid December until 1st January. So, this is where the dilemma kicked in. With some of the works are unfinished, I know it is a little risky to leave for several days. But, all our works (my husband happened to be a lecturer too) are pile up until end of January! If we waited to have a break until then, the girls will have to take several days leave from school. It is really a tough decision to make. My mind go through to other countries, particularly in UK where I have studied before. I remembered that there lecturers have a long break during summer and Christmas-New Year period. Of course, here in Indonesia we have long breaks during Idul Fitri, but it is the only time that coincide with School breaks. We also have several long weekends, but that only work for short vacation.

If only we have more synchronized holiday periods during the end of year, it would really helped us to have more quality time with our family.

Academic life is a quirky life. From the outside it looks as if it was a less stressful job, compared to business jobs. But I am sure that every academics will agree that we also have our trial and tribulations.

Perhaps it is just me? I wrote about how to balance work with family.ย 

Then, the other day I read from LinkedIn, a post from Joos Buijs, a researcher, whose work I have been following for sometime now. I read a lot of his article and I also joined the MOOC on Process Mining that he ran. I am really proud to obtain this certificate.

Joos, with Professors Will M.P. van der Aalst and Colleague at TU/e has helped me and students by providing free open source software to conduct process mining. We looked up to them.

So, reading his post entitled “I (finally) decided to leave academia, hereโ€™sย why” really intrigued me and I immediately read it from my mobile phone. You can read the article here.

I read it with mix feelings. In one hand, it gives me a confirmation that I am not the only academics that feel this way. But, at the same time I am amazed that everything I have been experiencing also happened to academics in developed country as the Netherland.

He said that the reason he is leaving the academic life is because he must do a lot of management stuffs rather than actually doing what he loves which is data science. It really resonates with me and perhaps my colleague in my department. I love teaching.

I love supervising students.

One of the group meeting with my students
Disccusion

I love research. I love presenting my works.

Presenting at Seminar

I love doing community service.

In fact last year I managed to challenge myself to do community service for micro and small entrepreneurs.

After giving a talk on Business Process Management for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. Hope that they find it useful.

I love it all. But, sometimes we must do a lot of administrative works that are not really related to those stuffs.

One thing that hit me so much is the next paragraph where he explained that he is working long hours per week.

“Secondly, and probably even more important, I do not know of any colleague that is spending <50 hours a week on this job. This is not a bad thing, if you do what you love this comes natural. But for me it is time to do as I say, and really show that โ€œIโ€™m married to my wife, not my bossโ€. I realized family time was really suffering, and even if I was having a good time in the evening/weekends I could not always enjoy it as much as I wanted to.” (Joos Buijs)

This is exactly what happened to us academics here in Indonesia too. We may work from 8 – 4, to lecture, supervising students and other stuffs. But, when we go back home, we still work in front of our laptops, doing research and sometime administrative works. This sometimes stretch over weekends. I cant remember the last time I went for a holiday without bringing and opening my laptop!

While I wish Joos the best in his future endeavor. It gave me a lot to think of. I love my job so much. But, I cannot afford to love it more than my family.

So how can I love both?

I did not yet have the answers. In the mean time, I try to sneak in family time when possible. Like this time when we brought the girls for a conference in Phuket, Thailand.

Bringing the girls at Conference in Thailand

Be Strong Working Mom!

About 6 years a go I wrote my thoughts on working mother struggle to balance motherhood and work. I wrote it when I just had my second daughter. I am sure that many working mothers in Indonesia face the same problem. In Indonesia, women are allowed 3 months maternity leave (there are no official paternity leave). So, come the third months we must make a tough decision on how to take care of our baby when we go back to work. Some are lucky enough to have their family, usually the grannies to help look after the baby. But, for those who live far from their parents like me must seek other help such as hiring a baby sitter or a maid. That was the choice that I made. But, I have a friend who prefer to put their baby in a day care. Each method has its pluses and minuses, and I would not go into details about them, because either way it is a difficult choice.

Today, I read an article about a member of parliament in Kumamoto, Japan that is barred from bringing her 7 months old baby to the parliament. So, it does not just a challenge in emerging economy like Indonesia. It is a universal challenge for working mother all over the world.

I can really relate with Ms. Yuka Okata struggle. There were times when I have to bring my girls to my workplace because of so many reasons. But, I was lucky that my colleagues and workplace is quite understanding. Nowadays, two of my friends often bring their babies to campus. But, in other situation where the workplace does not allow for this option, then juggling between work and motherhood can be a constant struggle for the mother, baby and the family. This will also affect the employer.

Other countries offered better solutions. If you read on to the story from the Telegraph, member of Senator Larissa Waters in Australia is allowed to bring her baby and even breastfed her baby girl inside the Chamber. During my IVLP trip to America, I got a chance to speak to a female senior faculty at MIT. She said that in the US there has been a move in the university to allow female faculty member to take longer maternity leave. At the same time, female lecturers are given longer period to obtain their tenure to allow them to focus on raising a family. Swedia, is at the front of this issue because parents are allowed 480 days paid parental leave and 60 days are reserved for the father.

Other solution that would also helpful is to provide more childcare units. In Indonesia, it is still very scarce.

I just hope that working mother are not left alone making the hard choice to care for the child or continue working.

Until that time comes, let us working mother encourage each other and stay strong!

 

 

 

 

Why Change is So Hard?

As a human we don’t live in an empty space…We live in our environment. Unless you are an exceptional human being, most people tend to conform with their environment. It does not mean that we are happy with it. Most of us just don’t wanna face the hardship of changing. We fear the unknown. Its a natural trait.

Last year I had an opportunity to teach Change Management course. One of the book that I used isย  Cadle and Yates. One of the things that they proposed is a Change Equation that goes as follow:

D x V x F must be greater than R

This equation means that for a change to happen the Dissatisfaction (D) of current situation times the Vision of what could happen (V) times the achievable First Step (F) must be greater than the Resistance to Change.

Lets take an example. Say that you are unhappy with your current job. But, you would not change to another job if the level of your dissatisfaction of your current situation is great enough, or if you don’t have ideas whether other jobs would be better (more beneficial) for you, or if you do not think that the first steps on the way to get the new job is easy enough.

Now, that is only you against yourself. Consider if the change involve several people, an entire organization or even an entire country. We can now see, why Change in a certain environment would be difficult. Some people may be dissatisfied with the current situation, but then again some might not. Some may have different visions. Finally, some may willing to go the extra miles to get to their vision. Some may not.

But should we do nothing?

One of my lecturer once said, you probably cannot build an entire wall by yourself. But you can certainly help by putting one brick.

I guess, if we cannot change others, at least we can change ourselves. For the better of course.

Stay positive!

 

A New Chapter

30th October 2015 marked the last day that I served at the faculty office. The past four years are full of challenges for me. I studied about management in my first and master degree, but to put the theories into practice certainly require patience and perseverance. So, I was really relieved that I managed to do the job. Perhaps not to the best standard in every aspects, but I knew I gave it my best shots.

The past few weeks I have been busy preparing reports for my successor. Then, cleaning up all the files. Scraping through the files I found hundreds of meeting invitation. Which means most of my time was spent in between meetings ๐Ÿ˜€ I also found so many documents that can be sorted into dozens of classification. As I sat there sorting and organizing, I really felt that I have learned a lot.

Now, I will return to my main job. A lecturer. Returning to my department I must first clean up my old office. It has been neglected since I spent most of my time at the faculty office. I was really amazed as I went through all those files…I truly am a keeper. I found examination papers, assignments from 2006. Piles and piles of them. I felt so bad to throw them away. But, with limited capacity, I must gave priority for new things.

Pile of very old exam papers and assignments!
Pile of very old exam papers and assignments!
More old documents
More old documents

So, here is to a new beginning.

Back to where I came from :)
Back to where I came from ๐Ÿ™‚

I wish I can be more organized. I wish I can balance work and life (read: family) better. I wish I can be a valuable human being ๐Ÿ™‚