Mentoring and “Secret Knowledge”

In another in her series of articles on mentoring junior faculty toward tenure, Kerry Ann Rockquemore discusses this week in Inside Higher Ed the “secret knowledge” that one must discern to “Sink or Swim.”

The secret knowledge is the hidden information about how things really work and the strategies to actually be successful. In other words:

•How to align my time with the criteria by which I would be evaluated for tenure

•How to teach efficiently and well

•How to establish a healthy and sustainable writing routine,

•How to manage conflict with people who have more power than me (my senior colleagues) and those with less (my students),

•How to establish authority in the classroom in the midst of inexperience and insecurity

•How to cultivate a broad network of mentors, sponsors, collaborators, and opportunities

•How, when, and why to say “no”

•How to keep moving forward in the face of numerous and inevitable rejection that come frequently from academic journals, presses, and funding agencies.

•How to create accountability for writing so it feels as pressing on a daily basis as the demands of teaching and service.

•How to make time for my physical, emotional, familial and relational health and well-being.

These are things that had nothing to do with my specific discipline and that I (like many others) had to figure out through the most ineffective, painful, and time consuming ways possible: trial and error, making humiliating mistakes, and cobbling together bits and pieces of information from assigned mentors.

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