Both productivity and proactivity are popular topics with educators. Productivity means that your time is spent on tasks that contribute to your personal and professional success, while proactivity is a state where you take initiative before it's asked of you.
When I heard that I received the Fulbright Award, I was on cloud 9. Then I got to work.
The first thing I did was sharing the news with all my professors and our department dean at Seton Hall University. That prompted Seton Hall to interview me, do a photoshoot, and place the article on their front page. After they did that, I received many encouraging emails from people I met and strangers.
One of those strangers was Gloria Garafulich-Grabois, the president of Gabriela Mistral Foundation. The organization carries on the legacy of Gabriela Mistral, specifically, her love and care for the children and the aged of her native country, Chile. The Foundation awards monetary grants to institutions that make an impact on the quality of life and/or education of Chilean children and the aged, and individual scholarships to outstanding students to pursue graduate studies.
When Gloria and I met, she already had a list of people I should meet when in Chile. She asked me to think about the persons on the list and let her know who could be the most beneficial contact.
All this time I was under the impression that the Fulbright Commission will take care of the leads and contacts in host countries. During the orientation, it became clear that it may not always be the case.
We are expected to do the legwork ourselves: cold calling schools, searching out leads, emailing the connections, setting up meetings, and staying on top of our research. Sounds like grad school, doesn't it?
After the fact that we are in charge of our own projects became clear, I emailed Gloria right away saying "I want to meet as many people as possible!" and she wrote the introductions.
So, far I am in touch with three persons at the University of the Andes and hope that other universities will respond to Gloria's introductions as well.
In addition to Gabriela Mistral Foundation helping me out with research contacts, I've been posting my project on Facebook, in various groups. For example, The Chile Experience and Chile Language Teachers offer tons of networking, tips, and best practices. Two Chilean teachers responded to my inquiry, and we will meet when I arrive in March.
So, you know the old adage ~He knows a guy, that knows a guy, that knows a guy~? I feel that's how establishing research contacts goes.
In education, your success depends on a plethora of factors, including networking and talking to people. Oh, and being persistent, too.
Productivity and proactivity often go hand in hand. With this project, proactivity manifests itself in taking that first step, sending that initial email that subsequently may lead to other things, exploring the possibilities, taking that risk to appear bothersome to some people. Productivity manifests itself in working on my dissertation; reading, taking interactive notes; thinking about the material; asking for advice; forming the Dissertation Agraphia Group.
What about you? How do you stay productive and proactive?