She means well. I'm sure she does. I'm sure she doesn't sit in her office thinking up imbecilic patronizing things to say to me just to test my non-existent filter.
Last week, she emailed all of us in the department that she had come up with a great new policy this quarter (we don't start school until mid-September) and wanted to share this with us so that we, too, could benefit from this great new idea of her. Her great new idea: to include her office hours in her syllabus so students would know when to expect her in her office. I wanted to say: "No, shit? If you bothered to look at the list of required items for your syllabus, you'd see that this isn't a new innovation; it's a requirement that we've had for years. You didn't invent it. In fact, by suggesting this, you merely show your ignorance." Instead of saying it, I thought it. Having somewhat learned my lesson about thinking before I act, I refrained from emailing her back what I was thinking.
When she heard that I am in the process of copying handouts (sample syllabi & college policies on course placement, such as what we do with AP scores and how we determine whether students in developmental courses can move out of that sequence) this week/end for an informational session for new profs to orient them to the requirements for GE courses with common texts and shared SLOs, she slinked over to my office and asked if she could come speak to the new folk.
"I have so many ideas that I just know they would find useful because I wish someone had told them to me when I was new. It would have saved me so much time, but I learned these on my own and I know they'll be useful to others," she intoned. Oh, OK. So you're saying that when I did your orientation three years ago, I didn't do a good enough job. Go on. Tell me more.
"OK, what kinds of things do you have in mind?" I asked. I am immediately suspicious of someone volunteering to sit through a meeting she isn't required to attend three weeks before school starts. Yes, this is where my mind goes after 16 years in academia. Instead of being grateful that she wants to participate, I immediately go on guard.
She said: "Well, for one thing, I have found it very helpful to stay two or three chapters ahead of students so if they have any questions about tomorrow's reading assignments, I can answer those or preview that information to raise interesting in class." Um... OK... You should actually stay more than two to three chapters ahead of students and have read the whole fucking novel, you stupid, stupid... OK, stop. Stop. STOP. Let her talk. Wait, did I say that out loud? Nope... still thinking.
And then she said, "I also think it's really important for professors to give students their email address so that the students can email them if they have any questions. Last year I wrote my email address on the board and students emailed me all kinds of questions that they didn't ask in class." OK, again, this is standard policy to include your work email in your syllabus. Plus, did you know that they can also contact you through the LMS and that you should be communicating with them through that, too? I'd like mine to STOP emailing me, actually.
Her voice always grates on me. She intones in this professorial know-it-all voice that feels like I'm chewing sandy kale. Is she still talking? Why am I just nodding? Say something! STOP HER!
And her final bit of wisdom (I'm sure there was more, but I stopped her here) was to suggest that new faculty start working on research early in the quarter because once papers come in, it'll be really hard to get research rolling. This is someone who, in three years, has talked a good game about researching, but has only published one document in three years: her dissertation... and I use the word "published" liberally here because really, a dissertation is published, but it's not like she got a book deal or anything and "published" it for real. Since her dissertation was completed, she has yet to do anything but talk about doing research.
The two new people we have hired come with excellent records of ongoing research (we learned our lesson when we hired Patronizing Insufferable Know-it-All Colleague who hadn't done anything). I can just imagine these people with several major publications to their names looking at her with the same amount of disdain I am sure I have mirrored on my face...
So, before I do something like turn down her help, what would you do? Would you allow her to come to the meeting so the new people know what kind of a colleague she will likely be? I could give her five minutes of time. Or do I save her the embarrassment because that would be kind and would also save us from sitting through five minutes of her useless advice?