End of term

I am now at the end of the term, the end of my intense teaching term. Probably a good time to relect back on what I learned this time.

First, I just cannot stop from overcommiting; refereeing, travelling, helping students with projects, seminars, administration, and so on. The problem is that teaching imposes the hard deadline, so that all that other stuff does not get done the way that I plan when I say yes. I need to be more realistic about what I say yes and no to during my teaching time period.

Second, teaching goes better the more relaxed I am about it. I don’t mean being unprepared, but I mean less lecturing and more like a discussion. That’s hard for me, since I am a nervous type and often over-prepare. Stop it.

Third, I like spring teaching. As we move from the cold, dreary weather to the beautiful spring weather, everyone—me included—is much cheerier about life. So class and life are much more fun.

Finally, I have gone to a lot of conferences this semester (probably too many). Now I really notice the importance of the networking and ‘clubbing’ aspect of all this is. And really how important the informal information flows are relative to the formal information flows. As one conference, someone told me that a picture I used in my discussion has been used in a few recent discussions. We are all pushing someone’s (good) paper. Even though that person was not at these conferences, notice is being paid. I guess it’s academic word of mouth. Just like bands (for example, how Clap Your Hands Say Yeah became so popular because of myspace ) have being doing well because of word of mouth, research and researchers can get the same effect. I am going to be much more clear about when I do and I don’t do that in the future.


One response to “End of term

  1. The “hard deadline” aspect of teaching is part of why new academics often overinvest in it to the detriment of their research (the other is that if you’re a good teacher, you get more immediate feedback from it than from research).

    It took my first job to learn that.

    For some great advice on dealing with this problem, I’d recommend Boice’s “Advice For New Faculty Members” to any of your readers, whether new faculty or not.

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