Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I have not had much time to post lately, which is the reason for this post.

First of all, I love my job. I love teaching. I think I'm moderately good at it. If my efforts are not beneficial at least they are not detrimental. Of course, I may be totally wrong. I know full well I am not the best teacher, but I work hard to be like the best teachers I have had and admire.

What annoys me the most is the non-faculty people (i.e. staff on 12 month contracts) I work with that take every chance they get to throw the old "must be nice to have summers off" crap around. I seriously believe that they think I (and my faculty colleagues) spend the entire summer sitting on the beach sipping margaritas, while they were toiling away navigating endless paperwork and waxing floors.

Now, I must also say right now that this is not a "woe is me" type post (i.e. rant). I am not saying I have it harder than anyone else. What I am saying is being a teacher is a hell of a lot of work. And frankly a lot of work that I really enjoy.[1]

First, I do get most of my summers "off." What that really means, is that I am not on a schedule. My time is usually much more flexible and less constrained by forces I can't control. That is one of the perks I love about this job. HOWEVER, that does not mean I have nothing to do!! From when the semester ends to when it begins again, I have labs to clean, machines to maintain, curriculum to device, usually a new course to plan, chemicals to dispose of etc... There is a lot of work that has to be done. Plus I run a science camp that takes a lot of time.[3] True I am not locked into the 8-5 schedule, but I am doing many things.

Second, teaching is a 12 month job crammed into 9 months. Seriously!!! With all of the things one has to do as a teacher at the college level[4] time is the most valuable commodity. Tonight, for the first time since the start of the semester, I am not working on school related things. A typical schedule involves me arriving at school by 8:30 am (after dropping off a child at preschool) and working until 5PM. I go home and once the children are in bed around 8PM, I start preparing for the next day. On weekends sometimes Saturday but almost always Sunday night, I am working on school things. And, it's not like all of these hours are making me excel at my job. They are necessary to give the students what they pay for and to accommodate the endless hours of committee work required to make a college work.

Sorry for the long rant. I'm not looking for your pity, but you must understand, teaching is a lot of work and it requires long hard hours and many sacrifices.

At least I am very well paid. For my labors, I pull in a 7 figure salary.[5]

[1] sorry, I'm getting a little crazy with the bold and italixs.[2]
[2] I really think "italics " should be spelled with an "x." It just looks cool.
[3] But I really enjoy it.
[4] I can say nothing about other levels since I have no experience.
[5] If you count the digits after the decimal point or convert my dollars to centidollars.


Jay said...

If you're gonna spell italix with an x, the "s" becomes redundant.

Ψ*Ψ said...

As far as my experience goes...if the class you're in charge of is a lab, and you half-ass it, it's a huge waste of time for the students. Your effort is probably appreciated :)

Brian (Beer:30 Chair For Life) said...

I'm with ya - I'll heft a homebrew in your honor some night when I have time. And how sad is that statement?

Mark Tichenor said...

My wife's a teacher; she shares your pain. It's amazing how people who were molded, shaped and educated by people such as yourself forget the personal difference teachers have made on their lives the second they're handed a diploma.

By the way, if I wanted to begin learning the basics of chemistry on my own, could you recommend a go starting point (book?)

Lab Cat said...

I am with you. Also certain staff are very good at arranging meetings on "reading" day and during finals week. After all faculty don't have to teach on those days.

I would recommend:
Oliver Sack "Uncle Tungsten" is a great read about general chemistry.

Larry Gonick with Craig Criddle has a Cartoon Guide to Chemistry