Rarely does a #SAchat FT (final thought for those who may be unfamiliar) lead one down the rabbit hole, but our discussion from this past week left me thinking “where are we heading?” in terms of development and satisfaction. Framed by my own FT posted to #SAchat, I wanted to keep our conversation going and inspire others to continuing considering how to interact with these forces in our work: “#SAchat FT where is the balance, who decides it, how will it look, how we will still achieve our academic mission? #Questionsoveranswers”
Where is the balance?
We do not always balance satisfaction and development, and I think they do not have to equal one another all the time; in fact, they rarely do. Throughout our positions we vacillate between these two forces while trying to achieve both at the same time, all of the time. A more practical understanding that these forces shift will allow us to better understand that we engage these forces similar to a pendulum. Therefore, the balance comes not in meeting both goals all the time or equally, but to understand how they interact for each student in each situation.
Who decides it (satisfaction and development)?
I immediately think of Hercules and the Hydra in this example; you think you have identified one constituent and two more pop up to replace it! There are many who contribute to deciding the interaction of these forces but, at its core, I would focus on being in your role, your office, and working in your Division. Whatever the interaction is will be determined in large part by the environment around you so it is important to learn what that is and interact to help achieve that environment. It is not the right job for you if you are incapable or unwilling to help achieve that goal; that is alright, go where you can do that!
How will it look?
In a world of increasing slant to customer service, consumerism, and consumer value propositions, it is difficulty to guess what the future will look like. Many worthwhile professionals have burnt out or left the field because of overarching institutional desires seeking customer service at the expense of education. While others have made every challenging student’s experience one a student needed to push through without much support because “they will need to learn to address these issues.” Perhaps there is a greater need for us to identify the co-curricular skills and experiences students will gain in their interactions at our institutions.
How will we still achieve our academic mission?
I believe this is the category that will change the least so long as we continue to ensure our contributions to the growth of our students to graduation and beyond. As a practitioner, there will always be value in our efforts to help support students through our institutions so long as we can continue to articulate how we make that contribution. Whether speaking to our colleagues or constituents, this focus on the mission and goal of our work with students should transcend our work.