What does it mean to be an administrator? A faculty member? A staff person? Are there themes to the roles played and the job done by members of each group? Are the roles well-defined? Faculty have “The Agreement.” Probably classified staff and administrators have similar types of documents. Do those documents clarify our roles? I’m thinking that in moments of conflict, we use those documents to make a decision. I’ve never read our agreement start to end. Mostly it’s a resource for me when a particular question comes up: “I’m going to a funeral and have to miss class; what do I need to do?” I don’t think that valued resource really provides a vision for my role in the college. Is it meant to? Does anyone think that it does?
I was 20 when I first started dating my husband. It was in interacting with his family that I became aware of many of my own assumptions. They were good people, but their roles, their rules, their habits were so different from those of my own family. Through years of conversations and actions, we came to know each other. And that process made me recognize that we experience every situation through the lens of our own assumptions, the net sum of all of our experiences to date. So what happens when 20 or 50 individuals work together in a department? Through years of conversations and actions, we come to know each other. And when we feel like we know each other and we feel like we each have a role that is understood and generally appreciated, then we can function well as a system.
A colleague recently observed that short-comings in a system end up costing the users time, energy, and morale. And as we put our collective attention towards Equity in Education, it is not much of a leap to conclude that short-comings in how we function as a college will disproportionately impact the poor, especially if they have to work while they’re going to school or if they are first-generation to college students. On the other hand, if we function well together, the benefits extend to EVERY student and also to ourselves.
So here are my numerous questions: Beyond the work that I do in my classroom, what is my role in our college? What is the role of various staff people? What is the role of a dean? What is the role of a Vice President? What is the role of the President? Who decides what our college-wide vision is going to be? How do we get buy-in for that vision? How do we talk about and share that vision in a way that makes us more likely to experience success in realizing it? How do we learn what the functioning parts of our system are? How do we connect system-wide to integrate the subsystems? And how do we improve how we function, as a SYSTEM? So many questions… Can you point me in a useful direction? Or share what you know?