I haven’t really written about teaching in a while since, well, I’m not teaching this summer. I – and the rest of my department – took the summer off. I say “took the summer off,” but, of course, we weren’t required to teach for the summer. It’s just that most of us usually do so that we can make a little extra cash. But this year, as my chair put it, “morale is low.” So we’re all off. And we needed it – at least I did.
I love teaching; I love the students; I love reading pedagogical theory; I even love – on occasion – grading papers. But what I don’t love is that in the community college system – especially in a small community college – each faculty member has to work all the time to be able to keep up. We teach a five-five load (five classes each semester – 15 credits), and that much teaching means we’re always grading, always prepping, always answering emails. Perhaps in other disciplines, the work load isn’t as time-consuming (notice that I didn’t say it was easier, just less time-gobbling), but in English, we have to grade all of those papers. Most weekends during the year, I am grading for at least one day. So we’re busy just with teaching.
But, of course, we are expected to serve on all kinds of committees (I’m co-chairing our institution’s accreditation team – talk about a time-gobbler and a political nightmare), and we’re expected to respond to questions and create/revise courses. . . . too much.
Then, if you have scholarship or writing outside of the purview of courses, at least at the community college, you have to do that on your own time. (And I must say that this is challenging, but I imagine that if you’re at a tenure-track school then this writing/publishing takes on a whole new pressure). In the end, “free” time is gone for the most part. During the year, my house looks like a paper and book cyclone has come through . . . (recently, an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education detailed just such a life – anyone read that? – and the article spiked a conversation between a colleague and I about how we could get a butler – but then we both realized that we didn’t have enough cash to pay a butler so we may have to use sexual favors to get our houses cleaned and our mail sorted. You think I’m joking! ;))
So all that is to say, that I’m enjoying my summer “off.” Now I have to go take the cats to the vet, workout selections for the collection I’m working on, write a chapter of a book, and finish my basement. It’s an easy-going summer – and I’ve loving it.
Does this sound familiar to any of you?