In my January post about planning for 2018 with user stories, I shared three of my epics for the year, related to my work as coordinator of our Professional Writing and Rhetoric (PWR) program, faculty leader of the Design Thinking Studio in Social Innovation, and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning researcher and writer. Below is an update on my progress during the first third of 2018 – a review or demo of what I’ve accomplished.
While we should definitely take time to acknowledge and celebrate our successes along the way, my purpose here is not self-congratulations, or self-flaggellation for that matter. The review is the third of four sprint meetings, or rituals, in the Scrum process, designed to hold team members accountable for finished work but also to provide an opportunity to celebrate progress toward larger goals. I’ve made progress and experienced setbacks like we all do every semester. A review helps me see both more clearly in order to plan for the future.
EPIC 1: As a leader and faculty member in our PWR program, I want to create a solid foundation for the new major in terms of marketing, recruiting, and prioritizing PWR so that I/we can realize our dream of a strong and vital PWR presence on campus and in students’ education. In spring 2018, we successfully shepherded the proposal for a BA degree through the university curriculum committee and will officially be in the catalog for AY 2018-2019. We marketed the new major during preregistration using digital signage, emails to students and faculty advisors, new course posters, and word of mouth. On the flip side, our courses got lost during pre-registration because we changed to our new prefix, and enrollments were lower than we would like. My colleagues and I have work to do to get the word out and get students into our classes. I also need to prioritize PWR leadership next semester.
EPIC 2: As a leader in our Design Thinking Studio program and related design thinking initiatives, I want to collaborate with colleagues and students to create a viable curricular and co-curricular pathway to the Studio so that I/we can provide our students with powerful learning opportunities that focus not just on knowledge acquisition and skills but also on core liberal arts capacities like empathy, resilience, perseverance, collaboration, and curiosity. I really should have broken this epic in two, one for running the second pilot and one for creating a viable model. Regardless, so far, so good on both. The second pilot finished up last week and was a success by many metrics. It was really different than the first pilot just in terms of the students themselves, so we have some analysis to do before going into the third pilot next spring. I’ve also been working with faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences on possible immersive semester and course clusters in order to figure out a potentially viable model for moving forward, with or without design thinking. All of this work will be ongoing in 2018, but I’ve made good progress.
EPIC 3: As a writer, I want to develop, visualize, and sustain a clear pipeline of my writing projects in their various stages so that I can better integrate writing into my daily habits, especially during the Spring semester when I tend to de-prioritize anything writing-related. I’m most behind here. Some unanticipated health issues arose this spring, and I’m honestly still dealing with the mental hit they caused (I’m fine physically though; luckily false alarm!). On the bright side, my colleagues and I officially signed a contract with a prestigious academic press for an edited collection on redesigning and reimagining liberal education in US universities and colleges. I also got both revise and resubmits on my plate turned around and back for second review. I have three articles and a sample case study for the edited collection I’d like to write this summer, but I want to take care of myself first. We’ll see what happens over the summer.
So now what? For Epic 1, I’ll work with my colleagues on program assessment, marketing strategies and materials, and strategic planning. Since teaching courses that get students talking is a primary way of marketing on campus, I’ll prep an excited Feminism and Rhetoric course to run in the fall. Epics 2 and 3 are interrelated in terms of the writing I want to do this summer, so I’ll work to get two articles completed as lead author and contribute to others my Design Thinking Studio peers are working in as well. I wrapped up a second workshop on immersive curriculum ideas and will report to my dean and see what happens next.
When I did my user stories in January, I didn’t include an epic for Agile Faculty. I’m remedying that now. Epic 4: As a published author and future consultant, I want to continue building the Agile Faculty brand to increase visibility and potential for consulting clients, keynote speaking, workshop facilitation, and other media (videos? podcast?).
If you wrote yourself user stories at the start of the year, how did you do? What are your summer goals, and how will you reach them? if you haven’t written stories for yourself, how might you use them to shape your summer work?