My goals worked; I said “no.”

I previously listed some goals/guiding principles for my career. Here they are:

  • I want to continue to improve my teaching.
  • I want to do research in finite group theory.
  • I want to help K-12 teachers improve their teaching. This is mostly done by teaching pre-service courses, but this could be met in other ways.
  • I want to help close the gender gap in mathematics.

I have two bits of news related to these:

First, I think that I can now provide more detail for the second goal. Part of the goal will be to focus on undergraduate research. By the end of the week, I will have been to four thesis defenses in ten days (I was an advisor for two of them and a reader for the other two). I thoroughly enjoy this process, and it is something that benefits the college and the students. I think that “undergraduate research” might be the focus of my upcoming sabbatical.

Second, these goals are working. I previously wrote, “This means that my default answer should be ‘no’ to any other requests of my time” (aside from these goals), and I used this list to figure out that I should say “no” to a request. I was given the opportunity to volunteer for a service job last week. There are several reasons why I wanted to volunteer for the job, but it did not meet the criteria on this list (and I already had enough other service jobs to fulfill the requirements for my job). So I said “no” (in the sense that I did not volunteer).

I am pleased that I will be able to spend more time next year on my career goals.

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8 Responses to “My goals worked; I said “no.””

  1. Sue VanHattum Says:

    Bret, I’m working on a chapter you might be interested in, for my book Playing With Math: Stories from Math Circles, Homeschoolers, and Passionate Teachers. (I’m editing the book; there are over 30 authors.) The chapter is on supporting girls in math. If you’d like to take a look at it, maybe you can help me improve it. If you’re interested, email me at mathanthologyeditor on gmail. Thanks.

  2. Erica Says:

    Good for you! :)

  3. Dana Ernst Says:

    I love so many aspects of my job, but working with undergraduates on research projects is by far my favorite part. We should have an idea swap sometime.

  4. Joss Ives Says:

    Well done Bret. I still need to do something along these lines.

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