Archive for January 24th, 2012

Two and a half years ago I faced an adjustment from teaching one or two courses per semester as a graduate student to teaching three courses per semester as a new assistant professor. My first semester taught me that I didn’t like preparing for MWF classes and that I didn’t have any time for research. In my second year I started my advising and service duties, adding additional off-campus involvement this year. In that time period I still haven’t had any time for research. Through the first two and a half years there has also been another factor contributing to my lack of research productivity: the fact that I have had at least one new course to prepare each semester.

After teaching seven different courses in the past two and a half years, this semester I’ve finally arrived at a point where none of my courses are new. Although one of my courses will require some changes from the last time I taught it, I will not need to spend my out-of-class time two days a week preparing for it. Hypothetically, this means that I will have some time for the numerous papers that I would like to finish up and send out for review. In order to use it productively, however, the increased time that I will have will likely need to be accompanied by a different approach to time management. In the past, I’ve set aside time for class prep and tried to squeeze in research whenever I could (typically when I was facing some sort of deadline). The problem with this approach was that when I wasn’t facing a deadline I often felt like I was “done” with my work when my class prep, meetings, and committee work were complete. This semester I plan to be much more deliberate about scheduling research time. Hopefully I will be able to make the most of the sorts of schedules my tenured colleagues have been enjoying for the past two and a  half years.

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