Friday, November 03, 2006

TGIF (as My Mother Would Say - No, Really, She Does Say That!)

But seriously, I am so totally glad that this week is over. It's not that it was a terrible week - it wasn't - but both this and last week have been very packed with meetings, and I am sick of people. Now, this madness continues next week because I'm having conferences with my freshmen, but I'm choosing not to focus on that right now. Rather, I'm choosing to focus on the fact that because it's conference week I will have a 3-day weekend, and I fully intend to spend that weekend blissfully out of contact with other human beings. Well, I'll probably talk on the phone. But other than that I just want to be by myself. All of this personal attention to others is d-r-a-i-n-i-n-g.

But last night, a friend of mine said something that kind of bugged me - that having taken on this quasi-admin thing is actually more work than just teaching a class - and it made me question whether I'm doing what I should be doing, etc., but then it just kind of made me pissed off, because I don't actually think that the friend is right overall.

The past two weeks definitely have been more work than if I were just teaching a class. BUT. All of that work has not been related to the quasi-admin position. Part of the work has to do with stuff I'm doing for our majors (priority registration for fall is beginning, and because I'm a good advisor, lots of my advisees like to come in and get advice - because I like advising, I make a big effort to give these students time); I've got a really great class of freshmen this semester, and this means that I've met with probably about a third of them even though it's not been required over the past week or two to look at drafts of the paper that they're turning in today (and honestly, I'd much rather meet with them ahead of time than read utter garbage come next week); I was teaching a novel I'd not read in at least 7 years; I had a couple of job apps to send out; and I completed a fucking book proposal!!! I mean, isn't it obvious that the quasi-admin position isn't the only thing I've got going on?

But let me stop the justifying and just think about the work that the quasi-admin position has required. In some ways, it has been easier than teaching. There are weeks that have gone by where very little has been required of me. There is no grading. There is no prep.

On the other hand, the person with whom I'm working (and who is kind of the boss of me), seems to be giving others the impression that I'm his "assistant," which is fine until he starts trying to delegate work to me that I don't want to do. I like that I'm not directly responsible for anything in this program, or in any kind of limelight, but I do not want to be the person who gets dumped on behind the scenes. I fear that this is my future if I stick with this position beyond May. Also, while there is no prep and no grading, there are a LOT of face-to-face meeting with people, which is so exhausting. Part of the reason it's exhausting is because I give a lot to each meeting, which I think means I'm doing my job well, but at the end of the day I just don't want to interact with humans. I'm not sure if that's positive.

At any rate, though, I'm ambivalent about the quasi-admin position at the moment, and I wonder if I will decide to keep it after this year, should I stay at my job. I don't want to teach a 4/4, but perhaps since I've had this 2-semester break from teaching comp, I can somehow work it, if I add my fourth class back in, to make it a service-lit course? I don't know. What I'm hoping for is for a truly lower teaching load. If I stay here, new people in power are committed to moving us to a 3/3. This would be an improvement, but I'm under no illusions that such a transition will mean less work - I suspect other garbage will get added on if it ever happens. On top of this, there's a lot of drama going on within my department, and I'm exhausted by even thinking about all of it, so maybe a lower teaching load wouldn't at all help with the overwhelming nature of my job?

And then, there is a little voice that whispers in my ear that maybe I won't need to decide anything related to the above. Not if I got a different job. I could leave the 4/4 load, the quasi-admin position, the departmental drama, the battles between our department and other arms of the university all behind.

Now, I'm no fool. A new job will have its things, too. No job is perfect. But, Christ, I work really hard. And you know what? A lot of the work I do isn't particularly fulfilling to me. It just takes my time and energy. It would be nice, if I am going to remain a workaholic, if I was at least doing work that is interesting and important to me a bit more of the time.


Anonymous said...

I think you're right about the way that departmental drama can create a sense of being overwhelmed. In my previous light-load position (2/2, 1 prep per semester, though it was a writing course), there was a great deal of in-fighting, and it just made the palce seem manic.

Here, where the load is 2/3 w/ multiple preps, but the drama is minimal, I'm barely stressed at all, even with a higher-than-usual service load.

Still, a 4/4 will make you busy.

Dr. Crazy said...

See, that's the thing, I'd LOSE MY MIND WITH JOY for a 2/3. Or even a 3/3 that's a true 3/3 with slightly less service. Because right now, whether I'm teaching 3/3 or 4/4, I've got three preps, and a HIGH service expectation, and it's running me ragged, especially since I care about doing research.

And now I'm cleaning my desk (which is like an archaeological dig more than anything else), and so I'm cranky about that on top of my exhaustion and hatred of interacting with people).

luolin said...

When my university went from 4/4 to 3/3 (before my time), they increased class sizes. Technically, it is still 4/4 with released time for research, so that if you don't publish, they can make you teach the 4th course.