And no pre-teaching nightmares yet, either!

Posted by September Blue Monday, 7 September 2009

The new term is starting, and soon I get to teach again. EXCELLENT. I've missed teaching so much that I keep wanting to grab passing undergrads by the shoulder and Explain Things To Them, but since this is generally frowned upon, I'm settling for explaining to new TAs that they should care about the ongoing pay disputes starting right now. (Sure, they always work it out eventually, but universities get maybe two years of 'Oh, I don't even care about the money, I'm just glad they're letting me teach!' first.)

This last term was the first in which I didn't teach anything since I started during my PhD, and that's a strange thing to experience. I do sort of understand why so many of the academics I know highlighted the break from teaching as a fantastic thing about my job; the research I'm working on has involved a fairly steep learning curve, and yeah, I'm glad I didn't have to juggle that with the teaching loads I've had before. But I like teaching. And I miss teaching. And truly, I do not say this as a naive first-year TA who does not understand what teaching can do to the time you thought you had in a working week.


(The last batch of marking I did. 83 essays, two thousand words each, at maybe half an hour per essay averaged out over the lot. Five days to mark them. Add in writing a lecture and planning tutorials for two courses in that same five days, and a library job that was just over thirty hours a week at the time, and I have known pain.)

(Also, the pile of papers on that desk were specifically complained about by two of the department secretaries, since even thought that was understood by everybody including the office staff to be my desk and nobody else ever used or needed it, all desks in that room were officially hot desks, and thus Should Not Have Paper Left Lying Around Like This All The Time.)

(Also also, that's the same pile of papers that almost got thrown away by one of the secretaries soon after I told the department I was going to be leaving for my current job. Soon after like days after, while I was still around, and thankfully a friend who was in the office at the time took the stuff back out of the bin-bag and kept it for me. My former department could get a bit tetchy over former PhD students getting jobs that weren't hourly-paid teaching.)

(Aaaaaanyway. Moving on...)

I'm not teaching very much this time round, and what I am teaching is not in an area I've taught anything even close to before. Which is fine. Nice change. Good for the cv, etc. But I also won't be teaching my absolute favourite thing to teach, which is first-year classes - for preference, first-year classes made up of students who don't really want to do English and aren't sparklingly brilliant at it either. I love these classes. I don't really understand why everyone else doesn't, and why the teaching most desired seems to be final-year or postgraduate-level classes in your own specialist area; I've taught upper-level undergrad classes in my own area, and in an area that wasn't my own, and they were a lot of fun, but they're definitely a different kind of fun than teaching the first-years. It's a whole different kind of teaching, in fact. And I think it's a shame when new TAs already see first-year teaching as an unpleasant obstacle to be hurdled in some kind of academic trial, so that you can get onto the good stuff.

1 Responses to And no pre-teaching nightmares yet, either!

  1. Sisyphus Says:
  2. That's a fuckin' pile, yo.

    I love seeing people document their stuff, show that they do work. Have fun with the teaching!