Tuesday, October 18, 2011

No good deed goes unpunished

So, being a nice person, when the email went out that Professor Overwhelmed had become so overwhelmed that she had run herself down into a serious illness and was in the hospital, I immediately agreed to take over two of her class sessions for one course (I'm still waiting to hear back if they need me again for this week). One session was on an author who I had taught before but hadn't read the specific stuff I would be teaching, the other was an author I had had in an undergrad course and who naturally had been on one of my reading lists, although I don't think I was ever asked a question about that text. So clearly this threw more prep and a little more stress into an already jam-packed week.

Now, I don't want to imply that my level of stress was anywhere near this professor's --- I don't know much about the nitty-gritty details of shepherding a program through the reaccreditation process but it seems to provoke physical and/or mental breakdown in the program administrators if what I have witnessed at two different universities is to be believed. Whoah. And although we ("we" meaning Postdoc U, although obviously I am not really part of this "we," being temporary) recently got permission from the higher-ups to advertise and fund a new full-time lecturer, who is here starting this fall, that doesn't really take away any work from the position of the faculty member running the program. In fact, it probably increases it: she had to chair the search, get approval for the search, train and mentor the lecturer, and still deal with all the logistical stuff of running the now-expanded program, and then do all the reaccredidation stuff to show that this bigger faster better program is meeting whatever benchmarks it is supposed to meet. (I told you I didn't know anything about this stuff.)

In fact, to continue this digression, hiring a full-time lecturer only helped with the course coverage of this program ---- sure, Fruit Studies now has a line devoted entirely to the program, but everyone who can sit on or chair a meeting or do anything with faculty governance is an "affiliated faculty" who is in another department, so there is still a tremendous amount of work to be parceled out amongst these already overworked faculty. So while full-time lectureships with benefits are good, I demand the creation and hiring of more tenure-track lines!!!! More power to the Fruits.

Ok, anyway. Can I go back to petty griping after making some trenchant institutional analysis? I'm going to anyway. Like I said, although I am not under so much stress that I am getting hospitalized, it did take away a few hours from my week for the class period, and I had to read the class material and plan something for it, and then I had sleepless nights because I didn't want to prep to the usual level of control and preparedness I do for my own classes but I tend to not sleep or have bad anxiety dreams when I am going to be teaching something for which I am not prepared, and then I had tons of homework grading to catch up on, which I still have not completed. But I am getting there. Anyway, that is my life at the moment. Not quite so sure I want the whole tenure-track job thing if it means a workload so stressful I'll be on antibiotics and an iv for two weeks, but there's the hope that the more work would also be more interesting work.

Of course, I would also just accept bags full of money instead. Inquire within for a mailing address.


Sisyphus said...

And would it be totally crass to ask Prof Overwhelmed for a letter of recommendation? Too soon?

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

ha. Yeah, methinks it's too soon, unless you give this Prof a very detailed account of what you'd like him/her to write. Make it easy if you're going to ask for something...

At least at my school, the TT job is sort of, well, not easy, but not as bad as I thought. I have more work to do than usual, and more meetings, but I generally like what I'm doing. Now, at Heartland U, you don't have to be on any committees or do any advising in the first year. So maybe I'm being lulled into a false sense of security. Teaching is going quite well, but then again, that was never the part I was worried about.

Research, committee work, and advising are all things that I'm kind of getting a pass on this year. That might be the norm at SLACs; I'm not sure. I could just be bloody lucky.

(This is not to say that I won't be doing any research. I have an upcoming paper for the SAA in April, and then I'm going to pull some old writing out and polish it up. Whether or not it goes anywhere is the big question. Hm.)