Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Surviving your Teaching Load and Having Time for Your Own Writing

I know that many of us are just relaxing into summer, where we have time off. I went into teaching thinking that I would have summers off, but so far, I've only managed to have a reduced teaching load (and only once, in 1998, did I manage to do that).

I also imagine that many of us are looking back over the past year and thinking about all the things we meant to do and wondering how the school year got away from us.

A few days ago, Dr. Crazy posted an excellent entry on surviving a teaching job with a 4-4 load. It's full of excellent advice, even if you're teaching under different circumstances. I haven't spent much of my work life outside of academia, but I imagine it's full of excellent advice for those of us toiling in different fields. You might think you're not a researcher, and so she's not talking to you. But trade out research for creative writing (or whatever your passion may be), and voila--excellent advice. You might think that you're teaching at a community college and what she has to say doesn't apply to you. But I'd be surprised.

When I first came to my current job (before my move into administration), it was a 5-5-5-5 load. Yes, that's right. We have 11 week quarters, and we're expected to teach 4 quarters a year. I often had 4 preps, which I preferred, so that I didn't get bored.

People asked me how I stood it, and I replied that if I had had this job early in my teaching career, it would have killed me. Fifteen years in, and I had developed a bag of tricks.

For those of you who haven't developed your own bag of tricks, Dr. Crazy's post will help you out.

Of course, maybe you're tired of your load of endless Composition classes. Go here for a great Washington Post article about the Blue Sky Puppet Theatre. It will make you miss the '70's, even if you weren't old enough (or born yet) to appreciate them. Ah, the counterculture! When you could decide you were just going to start a puppet theatre, and you did it. When there was a fair amount of support for such a happy scheme. No one said, "But what will you do about health insurance?" No one said, "Will you still be happy doing that 10 years from now?" No one said, "You didn't really go to school just to start a puppet theatre, did you?" Well, probably some people did say that. Still, I found the article inspiring. I have loved puppets since childhood, and I love the "Let's put on a show--you write the music, I'll make the puppets, and it will all work out" ethos of the troop. What a treat.


Karen J. Weyant said...

Great advice in there...I actually teach a 5 - 5 load, but don't have any research/writing obligations. I find it incredible that people with 4 - 4 teaching loads manage to publish and research, too! I agree with all of the points -- every one has to gain their own bag of tricks, and every teaching situation is different.

Kristin said...

I find it hard to do academic research/writing away from a university library. Even with Interlibrary Loan and the Internet, I've had a hard time. Poetry is easy for me to work in at the edges of my other work commitments.

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