Friday, July 21, 2006

Deal with the Devil, or the Blog's Name May Not Be Obsolete

Well, I just had a conversation with my chair about yesterday's "opportunity." It was a good talk, and he's totally supportive of me. He has agreed that the course from which I will be released will be a composition course!!!! This means that each semester, should I take this position, I will teach not two but a blissful one composition course. I will have a 3/3 load, with three preps it's true, but a 3/3 load with two literature courses (one upper- and one lower-division, ideally) and just one composition course. Now, it's true, if I take the job, I will have other responsibilities in its place. Entirely, entirely true. But if I guard my time as I know I have to, then I think it might be a good situation.

It's still not a totally done deal. Before I give the director my formal acceptance I asked for a written description of the expectations/duties for the position as well as the assurance that the term of the position would be just one academic year, though potentially renewable. Until I hear back from him about the duties and the term, I'm not saying I'll do anything. And if the duties seem like too much written out, I'll decline the position. But really, what's too much compared with teaching a composition class of 22 at-risk freshman?

9 comments:

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Excellent! Sounds like a good deal to me. I know you've mentioned feeling slightly less challenged by your job these days, so this might be a nice change from your usual routine.

Or it could be insane - who knows! ;-)

Dr. Crazy said...

Thanks, NK, for all the support. You commented in the initial post about this asking whether it was a good idea to do this kind of administrative-y thing pre-tenure. The truth is, this is really (as far as I know at the moment, at least) really an administrative position pretty much only in name, and it has only one major responsiblity - no additional meetings to the ones I already do related to this program, limited need for informal meetings with the director. It will be pretty highly visible to the dean of my college, which is good, but I will not be the person making decisions that could get an un-tenured person in trouble. Don't think I didn't consider that part of it as I thought the whole thing through, because I do have a tendency to be a big-mouth and so being in a highly controversial/highly visible position pre-tenure would be B-A-D judgment. This is also the reason why I'm demanding a one-year term, though, too, because I don't want to be locked into a position that would compromise my chances at tenure. One year shouldn't hurt me, even if it's horrible. Also, I've got to say, part of the reason I've agreed to do this is that since I'm planning to go on the market it would be nice to have just a 3/3 load, so the question of doing this beyond one year could (should the right thing arise and should I get an offer) be moot.

But yes, I'm very excited!

tippycanoe said...

Great news! Not to be paranoid, but do you need to get your chair's word in writing? Or can he be trusted to keep his word?

Dr. Crazy said...

TC -
My chair can be trusted, and actually has already gotten on the case toward changing my schedule should the change in my status go through. We rely so heavily on adjuncts that it's really not that big of a deal to shift my schedule around in this way. So I'm good for this academic year. Should I continue in the position beyond this academic year, I think I might consider getting something in writing from my chair, just so that when his term is up my status w/r/t this will be clear.

Mel said...

If you like what you see in the description, then you should go for it. I think depts that are hiring people who are not fresh PhDs expect/like to see some admin experience. And it's probably no where near the same kind of workload as the comp class -- one advantage I find about my admin post is that its work stays in the office. It's not like prepping/grading which I drag home with me (literally as well as mentally).

Barry said...

If you are going to market, it seems to me that there are two good outcomes from taking on this opportunity. I imagine things in the USA are similar to here, where one element that recruiters are looking at is proven willingness to serve the wider university (service is ostensibly one third of the job, although particular strengths elsewhere can offset poor service). Second, there is more of a hint that your preference is to be less involved in the composition side of teaching, so a focus on the lit side must help build credibility when you go to market looking for lit-based positions, yes? Good luck.

undine said...

Mel's right about departments liking to see some administrative experience, and it sounds like a good deal with the 3/3 load. Good luck.

susan said...

Asking for a job description up front, and also agreeing to a one-year initial appointment, makes good sense. It will give you a job description to rely on as you carry out the duties (minimal thought they may be), it'll reduce your teaching load, and then at the end of the year you can see.

I'm just becoming department chair, and I got someone to be associate chair by doing just that: we worked on a job description and agreed to try it for a year. I'm happy because I'll get help with one particular thing, he's happy b/c he knows it's a trial. And at the end of the year we can figure out whether we need the position, whether he wants to continue, and whether I want him to continue. So I think your plan would be attractive to the people you work with, too, even as it also protects your time and interests.

No one will ever look after your interests as well as you can--it took me a long time to learn that (obviously you, not so long).

Dr. Crazy said...

Thanks for all of the supportive comments, everybody! It does look like this will be a done deal, and I figure that it's worth taking the chance on doing it. I'm a little apprehensive, a little excited, and well, I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes.