It's nearly the end of July. Woke up to more rain/fog, which has thankfully begun to burn off.
Thing One is at my feet looking through the movies I spilled onto the floor while updating my new profile. Thing Two is napping; otherwise, I would not be able to write this.
I titled the blog "This Academic Life" because I am an assistant professor in my last few months of a tenure bid. I do not know how it is going to turn out. My votes have been uncomfortably close for the past two years (not coincidentally, Thing Two was born 19 months ago, on the last day of my finals). I love my job. Well, I love most aspects of my job, which makes me way luckier than most people. I love teaching, I love meeting with students, and as sick as it may sound, I love meetings with my colleagues (not just in my department, but across my campus as well).
That last part is partly why I am in the precarious position today--I over-extended myself on committee obligations (chairing committees during a tenure bid is not something I would recommend), which left me with no time and little energy for writing.
The Inside Higher Ed blogger Kerry Ann Rockquemore has an advice column called "Winning Tenure Without Losing Your Soul". Some of what she has to say is common sense (but since when did anyone in academia have a surplus of that??). Some of it doesn't take into account a variety of factors. Consider this post in which she gives parameters for a 40-hour work week. Her 40-hour work week is 20 hours for research and writing; the rest divided into hours for teaching (12) and prep (she gives 4) and committee/service obligations.
Nowhere in that post does she make time for grading. I do not have a TA upon whom I can dump 66 3-5 page papers that need to be graded within 10 "working" days. So if I want to have a 40-hour week (and I SO want one), I have to "eat" hours out of something else. Can't eat them out of class time. Can't eat them out of prep, since my courses get tweaked almost every semester to make them better. Can't eat them out of service. So I guess I'll eat them out of writing time. Guess how many hours it takes to grade 66 papers? Give up?
About 21 hours, give or take.
That's right. The papers vary widely in both content and quality, and each must be carefully read (once for content, once for quality). Each must have comments written both on the paper itself, and on a rubric given back with the paper.
She also left out office hours (6 per week) but I guess since a lot of us do prep at that time, those qualify as multi-tasking hours.
What about the summer? you ask.
I have two children under age 6, and I don't get paid over the summer. Guess what that means? It means that I'm home from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm with two small children. Have you ever tried to write anything coherent while being chattered at by a 6 yr old and a 19 month old? No? It's an exercise in futility.
Then the NY Times comes out with
And I'm sitting here...
Ah well. I'm gainfully employed (for now) and I have managed to get some writing done in the past few weeks. The kids are going to stay with Grandma and Grandpa for a few days next week, and I will have time to work on my article. I even have a place to send it, so hopefully all will be well.