#worklifebalance in higher ed

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Week two of my Social Media Ethos Project. Some interesting results so far, even in just how I am thinking about my Twitter feed. For example, when I have hopped on the past few days, I do so with much more purpose. I no longer scroll endlessly, slack-jawed and glazing over. I am looking for particularly relevant content. I am looking for something. This has helped me: a) not feel so overwhelmed by the sheer volume of content I’m scrolling through, and b) has made it easier to dis-engage after a discrete period of time.

Also, knowing that I won’t as easily be “sucked in” to an overwhelming and purpose-less scroll-through has helped me engage more. I used to just avoid the platform altogether.

This week, I posted a bit more boldly on the theme of work-life balance. I am employing the hashtags…

#worklifebalance, usually paired with:


and most recently,


That last one feels a bit unwieldy. But I have to say that due to my increased activity, I’ve seen an increase in reactions to tweets and even gained some followers (6 total).

Specifically, in response to my re-tweeting of her article on why she left academia to start a consulting business, Katie Taylor tweeted at me:


I, of course, liked this tweet and immediately “replied.” The problem with that last step is that I am having trouble finding the reply, or confirming that I actually did hit “send.” I want to respond to her to continue this conversation (my original reply had to do with my thoughts about “balance” as more “homeostasis” than a static state…), however, I’m running into a social-norm-constraint of the genre and platform. If I did manage to reply before, I don’t want to repeat myself. If I didn’t…there is no way to know…

However, I find it interesting that Katie is able to tweet about the fact that there is no panacea. Flexibility indeed doesn’t always equal balance, it just might make it more self-directed than outside-directed (which can be harder for some).

I also noticed 3 likes and 4 re-tweets of an article and accompanying tweet I composed on the 24th:


I am interested into why this tweet, more than the others with similar hashtags, was picked up. It may be the fact that the original article was posted by NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English), and since that is a large professional organization, it would have a) more credibility and b) a wider following than an individual like myself.

Overall, my experience with this project has been fascinating. I’m looking forward to continuing my journey and learning more about Twitter and my own ethos as it develops on this social media platform.


Social Media Ethos Project


New semester, new experiment.

I’m teaching Advanced Expository Composition this Winter, and we are talking a lot about expository writing across multiple modalities-including online. As a semester-long project, I’m asking the class to try out a Social Media Ethos Project. During the semester, we will all choose one social media platform we either haven’t used yet, or are currently using, but want to revise HOW we use it. We’ll post at least 1-2 times a week specifically to cultivate a desired ethos and follow up on our purpose for using that platform. I’m doing it, too, and I’ll be reflecting on my experiences this semester on this blog.

The social media platform I’ve chosen to experiment with this semester is Twitter. I already had an account up, but it is pretty neglected. My purpose this semester is to explore and (hopefully) get some conversations going about work-life balance in academia. 

Here’s what happened as I got started on my SMEP work:

Logging in: When I logged in to Twitter, I realized that my profile page was 2 years old. I decided to switch it to a more recent pic. I wanted the profile pic to include my family, since they are a huge part of my pursuit of “work-life balance.”

A Mini-Experiment: I took a few minutes to search for “what’s out there” regarding the topic I’m interested in. I plugged in #worklifebalance first. There were LOTS of tweets, from an article about how working dads develop work-life balance, to female cardiologists taking shorter maternity leave. Individuals had posted photos of their family and included the hashtag. One colorful article had the title of “Stop pretending work-life balance is a thing: it’s not.” Mainly, though, there were lots of links to articles and blogs about people with corporate jobs seeking work-life balance. So, I decided to refine my search and added to the prior hashtag, #education. This pulled up LOTS of tweets from the UK, which I found interesting. One workshop on how to reduce grading time ( or “marking” as it’s called across the pond and in Canada) was retweeted several times. Mostly, though, the tweets were from or about elementary and secondary teachers. Ok, so I refined one more time. Along with #worklifebalance, I added #highered. What happened next made me say “whoa” so loud that my husband asked what was wrong. (!) There was one tweet with that combo of hashtags. One. screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-2-29-33-pm

It was a link to an ecology professor’s blog, which had been retweeted by another ecology professor from Montreal. Basically, the blog was a short narrative on how it is ok to do your work at odd times–5am, for example. Maybe less about “balance” per se, and more about feeling less guilty for sending an email at 5am?

Participation: I spent the next few minutes re-tweeting the few articles I found that might be interesting and applied to my new purpose. screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-2-29-48-pm screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-2-29-57-pm screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-2-30-08-pm

Also, as luck would have it, I came across a question from a fellow scholar in rhetoric and composition, asking about a “wicked problem”* that we should talk about. Serendipitously, I replied that we need to talk more about work-life balance. screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-2-30-17-pm

We’ll see what comes of that conversation!

*Last year’s C’s conference focused on the theme of Taking Action. One of the special Taking Action sessions was led by Dr. Glenda Eoyang and focused on human systems dynamics and conceptualizing the “wicked problems” in our discipline–along with strategies for how to approach them!