Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Week in the Life: Preview

I have been keeping track of my work schedule in a notebook I keep on my desk. It's the place where I have all 3 of my course calendars' topics and assignments written down for the week so that I know what's coming. I also use it to keep track of what I'm doing during office hours and the hour and a half I have after my last class of the day before I leave to pick up my kids at 4:00pm. It's analog because for some reason, the act of writing it down again actually helps me remember what I'm going to need to do--more than typing it up or even keeping all 3 calendar documents open on my computer does. I've found it helpful in remembering what I've done when it's time for me to write up my annual Faculty Activity Report, which never gets shared with anyone outside the academic community.

I've decided that I'd like to share my week with the wider world, with an eye toward turning it into a possible op-ed piece for the newspaper. I think it would be really helpful for the wider community to see what it is that their tax dollars are paying for so that they can have a clearer understanding of what they're talking about when they debate whether or not taxpayer-funded higher education is a good idea, because if I believe what I read in the comment posts about higher-ed, I'm the most overpaid, underworked public servant in existence (other than the guy who holds the SLOW/STOP sign and directs traffic during highway construction).

I realize that I'm biased: my salary is funded partly by tax money, partly by tuition, and partly through some alchemical combination I've yet to understand (only about 24% of our operating budget comes from the state legislature). But as I sit here in my sunlit bedroom on a Sunday morning with my cup of coffee and 21 composition papers that have yet to be graded (after spending my Saturday grading 22 composition papers), I realize that I'm also annoyed with the way I'm commonly portrayed in the media and by politicians looking to cut even more money from the system in which I am employed.

I'm not overpaid. Far from it, if the reader considers that I work at least 10 hours per weekend in addition to my 40-hour work week (with lunch eaten at my desk most days while I'm working on some project or other). So I'm going to write my day-in-the-life, every day this week (since the following week I get to be a single mom when Hubby goes out of town for work). It's a typical week: assignments coming in, courses to prep, committees to attend and/or run.

I know I'm not the only person on the planet who works hard. I am not approaching this activity in the spirit of a complaint session. But there have been a lot of times lately that I feel like the general public has no idea what it takes to do what my colleagues and I do all day, every day, 6 or 7 days a week. I'm sick of it.

So buckle up, Dorothy, because Kansas is going bye-bye.

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