In this post, I re-evaluate my experiences with academic failure. Last week, I offered my thoughts on the importance of reflection, and how I’ve used reflection as a tool to help me rebound from academic failure. Like the previous posts, I’ll center re-evaluation in the experiences of manuscript rejection, struggles on the job market, and being denied tenure.
Re-evaluation in publishing
For nearly all of us on the tenure track, publishing is a matter of keeping our jobs. I’ve had some successes in having articles and book chapters accepted for publication. But I’ve had way more submissions rejected than accepted. Last week I shared how I shifted my thinking about what to do with a rejected submission. That change in mindset came about after a lot of reflection, which led to re-evaluation. I’ve had to re-evaluate my approach to publishing. Was I simply trying to get something published? Or, was I trying to contribute something I hoped would be valuable to someone?
Re-evaluation after being denied tenure
I’m actually going to address re-evaluation on the job market with being denied tenure. As I reflected on that experience of being denied tenure, I chose to re-evaluate what was important to me. Once I decided that I wanted to keep being a faculty member, I thought about what was important to me. As I noted in my post on reflection, I realized that teaching is what drives me to be a faculty member. Re-evaluating what’s important to me after being denied tenure helped me focus my job search efforts.
Re-evaluation is ongoing
When I think about how I use this as a mechanism to rebound from academic failure, I notice two things. One, re-evaluation is intertwined with reflection; I have difficulty uncoupling them. Two, it is an ongoing process. Maybe it’s because of anxiety, but I always think about past failures; I can’t let them go. So, to help me deal with them, I re-evaluate. It is a constant struggle to keep that re-evaluation focused on the future, rather than second-guessing what I could have done differently.