Self-Sabotage Ravine

Self-Sabotage Ravine

You may spend your first year as a tenure-track faculty member figuring out your approach to teaching, preparing teaching materials, and managing students and TAs. It may seem a little daunting. Even if you are a classroom veteran, a new position at a new school requires preparation for new courses and new students.

Inexperienced trekkers sabotage themselves by concentrating on their teaching and ignoring the importance of maintaining their research, writing, and service commitments. You need to be effective in the classroom—but not at the expense of research and service.

Here are three tools to manage teaching and bridge the imbalance between teaching and other commitments.

Reduce your teaching load. Your school may offer a reduced load for new faculty or for faculty who negotiate release time for course development or for specific research or service projects. Explore the possibilities.

Keep it simple. Preparing courses for the first time is an arduous task. Request copies of the previous syllabus for each course. Seek out colleagues who taught courses you have been assigned to see if they are willing to share lecture notes, assignments, PowerPoint presentations, and other resources. Start with what you have. Shape your courses incrementally with the feedback you receive over time. Avoid overly ambitious assignments and projects until you get to know the department and the students and until you have established a balance between your teaching, research, and service commitments.

Contain your time. Set office hours and stick to them. Look for ways to minimize the grading load. Stagger due dates for assignments and avoid “back loading” your course, in which most of your assessment is toward the end of the semester. Give feedback early. Your students will benefit as well.