Monday, September 12, 2011

New new or same old? Or, do search committees care about breadth of courses taught?

Hello! I got an email asking about spring courses already. The emailer asked if I wanted to teach the same Introduction to Fruit Studies course in spring, or if I wanted the chance to try out a specific different GE course for Fruit Studies. I have a few days to think about it.

This basically comes down to ease of prep time vs adding to my repertoire of courses to look good on the job market. Of course, I won't have taught the new course by the time MLA rolls around, but I could always mention it in my letter or cv and hopefully impress people with my application. On the other hand, I could be looking at nada on the job market and be moving in to the spring "alternate" job market for ccs or even nonacademic jobs and the possibility, yet again, of moving into my parents' basement, which would mean prepping up a new course while feeling sad and anxious and completely revamping my life. (But is teaching already-prepped and practiced courses while feeling sad and completely revamping one's life better? Hmm.)

I kinda think that any time I have taught a new course it has been a lot of work and kinda sucked, and then the second time things go much more smoothly. Plus I know me and I might be tempted to blow off article writing and current class grading to prep the shiny potential of the future class instead this semester, but I bet I can work to keep that to a minimum.

The email said I haven't been put into the schedule for the regular comp/English classes yet, so there might be a chance I get offered a different comp class or something other than the Stripey class in spring (hmm, a Plaid class? Checks? Polka dots?), so depending on the whims of the department, I could have lots of new classes to prep instead of just this one. Not sure yet if that would be a good thing or bad. Probably bad. OTOH, I have taught almost the same thing for three semesters now (except when the fuckers changed comp anthologies on me this fall, rrrr) and maybe I will explode from sheer frustration if I teach them for a fourth semester.

Do you think search committees care about the variety and breadth of courses taught? Is there a point at which the payoff is negligible? Because I TA'd a shitload of lit classes on different topics (to say nothing of the years I worked in other departments) and then got to run some of my own and adjunct teach some topics classes before I even got here to teach the whole sequence of gen ed classes. Would it matter to anyone that I had taught the same stuff vs. lots of different classes here?

And would your answer be any different if the Stripey Class was world lit and this new course was Fruits Around the World? Or alternately, what if they're not?

10 comments:

Safo Garcia said...

As a junior faculty member who's been on one search committee I'd say the pay-off is negligible, and you'd be much better-served putting the time saved from repeated the course toward research.

Fretful Porpentine said...

Honestly, I think this is one of those times where you can and should be totally self-indulgent. Do whatever is going to make your life easiest and sanest, search committees be damned. (For me that would probably be the new class, but I'm one of those weirdos who gets bored easily and actually *likes* having four different preps as part of her 4/4 load. YMMV.)

Earnest English said...

I think that you need not push yourself to teach a new prep. Unless the course is exactly what the search c'tee is looking for, it won't matter.

For example, it mattered hugely that I had taught a section of Mustard Studies, but only because the core of my current job is Multi-Modal Mustard Studies. So though it was obvious from my record I could teach Mustard Studies, I'm sure having taught that course was vital. Unless you can imagine a distinct scenario where the class you'd teach in the spring would be your core curriculum at a job you'd take, don't bother.

My two cents.

Bardiac said...

If it's really different, then MAYBE, but only for either small schools or poor ones. It won't help at all with larger regionals or R1s.

I agree with the smart people above: do what seems most likely to make you happy and give you time to work on what you want to work on.

Dr. Crazy said...

Sis, you're good on teaching. Seriously. I know what you've done, and I can tell you that in the 4-year world, nobody is going to want more from you than what you've got. Be selfish. Don't burden yourself with teaching to qualify for mythological jobs. Seriously :)

postacademicinnyc said...

No, they don't.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

What everyone else has already said. :-)

Stacey said...

Ditto.

Lucky Jane said...

Piling on here. Only applicants with meager teaching experience get any attention paid to theirs, and breadth of teaching experience *can* give one candidate an edge, but yeah, don't tax yourself unnecessarily. The only compelling reason to take on such a new prep would be that it's a good way to teach yourself a new area.

Susan said...

What everyone else said. You can say you've taught fruit studies and the stripey class, and additional versions of either are redundant.

My concerns are always simple: can you teach our bread and butter courses. That you have shown...