Sh*t, I have taken on too much teaching . . .

Ever felt a bit trapped?

In my eagerness to:

a) get out of my current job

b) prove to my current job that I could indeed teach in my main subject area

c) NOT starve to death

d) re-connect with my academic roots & get some current teaching experience on my CV

e) ensure that I had enough money to carry me through the mid-year break

f) had enough ‘101’ classes that some ‘102’ classes were bound to be offered

g) not say NO to anyone who was kind enough to offer some work

h) …. subdue rising panic (see a)

I have taken on far too much teaching.

At the moment I am committed to attending a 3 hour lecture on Monday (I thought this was optionally viewed online but this appears to have changed), a 1 hour meet @ 8:30 -9:30 am on Tuesday followed by 10-30-12:30 and then 2:30-4:30 tutorials. I have Wednesday off but have to go down south (2 hr trip) on Thursday night and stay in town to teach – 9:30-10:30 lecture followed by 11:00-1:00 and then 1:30-3:30 tutorials, then, back home via 2hr coach ride (did I mention that I am writing this whole course from scratch? It’s the first time it has been run and there is no syllabus at all so I need to come up with everything). On top of this I have to find 6 hours of online teaching time for an online unit I am tutoring. This is a pretty full schedule, the marking is going to be horrendous, the travelling on Thurs/Fri is going to take its toll and to top it off, I may get offered some more online teaching which I am very keen to take as online has 4 study periods (SP) rather than 2 semesters so, there is much more work there and I want to seem available for that.

The thought of fitting my PhD into my new TT is completely freaking me out.

Not only that, but obviously I want to do a good job for my students and to be considered as someone who did a good job. Repeat employment depends upon being able to manage the teaching and (moreover) the marking – I cannot slip here as we are a four university town (ok, one private as well, but they don’t really count) and any screwup is going to get around pretty damn fast.

One class starts in the city next week and I am still based in the country. I will be taking a coach up and back and staying overnight. I have no contracts with anyone as yet so money will be slow in coming but hopefully this will be resolved sooner rather than later (and anyone who has done sessional/adjunct work knows only too well that pay dates can be weeks and weeks behind start dates) so any/all expenses will need to be managed by my currently unemployed butt – wonderful. The rest of my work starts the week after that and this will include the weekly 2hr commute/overnight stay which I will also need to pay for until contracts kick in.

The main issue is time.

At this stage I am working hypothetically – bus rides, coach rides, class schedules etc are not fixed or even real until we have run through them. The beauty of the online teaching environment is that I am paid for a set amount of teaching hours but I can ‘set’ these myself, leaving students to sign up for whichever time most suits them. This is both good and bad as the flexibility allows me to run through week 1 to identify the best times but, choosing also means that I need to choose the times where I can really focus – in order to do best by my students and my employer – and that means time/s away from my dissertation work.

I am not sure how I am best going to meet the challenge of the coming 12-13 weeks. I will make sure to pop back and update my teaching/marking/dissertation schedule so you can see exactly how much time it takes to manage that amount of classes and also to see how the online teaching thing pans out – so,  watch this space. 

Update: due to my triumphant return to teaching (which you can read about here) I was possessed of a profoundly stupid sense of immortality for the afternoon which coincided with a call for  .. you guessed it – another class. This makes university #4 and is my current university. It is being run by the head of department/school (can’t remember which) and it has a follow-on next semester which not all of my others do so it made sense for those reasons as well – financially I am set for 13 weeks. Whether I will still be sane, and/or have managed to well, manage all of my students effectively is a different matter. It is important to me that the students don’t miss out because I have a big teaching load. I don’t think I will ever put myself in this position again but, in re-entering it is also important to connect with the people who can offer you the work. If you say no, then obviously you are not going to be the first on their list the next time they have work. But … damn I am going to need to be organised.

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