I don’t admit this always, but one of the reasons I was hesitant to give up administration was because I didn’t know how much I would like being in the classroom full time again.
Before I became a full-time administrator, I was a competent teacher, garnering excellent student evaluations and a handful of teaching awards. But as my research productivity increased, I started teaching fewer classes as my funded research “bought out” my teaching time. Sometimes people would ask me why I didn’t teach more since I was so good at it. I used to respond that teaching was a lot like fertilizer. You didn’t need very much to reap the full benefit.
Academics talk a lot about teaching load. A lighter teaching load is almost always considered the ideal. Even for those professors who love to teach.
So now here I am, getting ready to abandon administration. Since my scholarship is currently in a wee bit of a shambles, when I return to the faculty after My Year Away, I will not have any kind of teaching reduction. Sure, I’m at a flagship so that means just two courses a semester, but four classes a year feels like a lot to me. It’s been over a decade since I’ve taught a full load.
In this blog, I’ve been writing a lot about the things I’ve been doing to ready myself for my sabbatical including studying statistics, creating various research groups, reading a variety of books, etc. I also decided that sucking it up and teaching more right now would be a good idea as well.
This semester I’m teaching a doctoral seminar in pedagogy. I’m also overseeing three undergraduate independent studies—and just recently, I starting teaching a five-week course I created called Historical Milestones in American Advertising. On Tuesdays, I do it all—finishing the day with the three-hour doctoral seminar. It wears me out. But, it is also exhilarating. My ad students are amazing. We meet at 8:30 a.m. They are ready to go. Today we talked about the history of self-regulation in the advertising industry—a topic I wasn’t expecting them to embrace. But they did.
The doctoral students are simply fantastic. Today’s topic was technology in the classroom. We covered a lot of topics. (Princess Di’s funeral, The West Wing, MOOCs, Twitter, Blackboard, and this blog were just a handful of subjects we explored.) The three hours zipped by. (For me, anyway. You might have to check with my students to get their take on the afternoon!)
The good news is that I taught all day today. And, I did more than survive. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed preparing for class. I enjoyed being in class. I enjoyed my students, both undergrads and grads. And, maybe. most important of all, it felt normal. I’ve got a few months to go before I start my sabbatical, but I’m already beginning to see a glimmer of hope that spending my days as a teacher and a researcher are going to be good days. Maybe even great days.