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Reflecting and Improving


How do you feel about professional development? Have you ever attended a conference and left with multiple strategies applicable to enhancing your work? This week, I had to answer these two questions.

Every year, the university where I work hosts professional development workshops in preparation for the new academic term. These faculty-led training sessions discuss various topics related to teaching, advising, and supporting research projects.

In my department, we held an on-campus retreat to sharpen our academic swords and cut retention in half. We revisited programs, reevaluated services, and reconsidered opportunities for collaboration.

Our morning sessions examined aspects of our strategic plan. We analyzed our current offerings and compared them to the institution’s goals. The afternoons went to virtual participation in Florida Atlantic University’s Appreciative Advising Institute.

In the next blog post, I will share more about Appreciative Advising.

It's been a busy week that also included checking in with my mother's health and a three-day juice cleanse. My mom is recovering from surgery in a California hospital. According to the medical team, she will return home this weekend. Fasting from solid foods helped keep my body and mind clean despite the many professional and personal responsibilities piled on my plate.

For 72 hours, my wife and I restricted ourselves only to drinking juice, water, coffee, and tea. I have never experienced more temptation to eat bread, chips, cookies, or anything edible this week! Due to the calorie restrictions, my energy lagged in more than one professional development workshop this week, but I absorbed plenty of helpful information.

If you’re reading this blog piece, I survived the fast, and my body did not wither away as I feared it would without eating solid foods for three days.

Perhaps, pursuing a similar week of professional development and fasting before August can help you. Fasting and reflecting on your practices can help produce the mental clarity necessary to create new goals. If you live in one of the heat wave states, drink lots of water or other liquids.

How do you begin?

Please keep it simple for now. Wake up earlier or stay up later on one day and write about one of your roles. Delay breakfast or your midnight snack to prevent your body from using the energy stores necessary for digestion. I want you to focus and concentrate.

Maybe start with thinking about your involvement as a parent or spouse. Then, ask yourself a few questions. How did you interact with your children this week? Did you avoid difficult conversations with your partner? What can you do differently next week?

From your parenting or partnering roles, note some reflections about your work. For example, how much time did you invest in learning to improve your knowledge and skills this week? How can you increase that time next week? Are you settling in your current position? Is it time to ask for additional responsibilities or look for new opportunities?

This time to reflect will get you going in the direction toward identifying your unique professional and personal goals.

Throughout this contemplation process, give yourself grace. You will not be perfect in your familial or professional roles. The blessing in every day is that it offers opportunities to improve.

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Please keep eating healthy foods, dear Dr. Vernon.

Replying to

Thank you, Dr. Joe! I will do that!

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