Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Work Load

Over the last couple of days, when people have asked me how things are going as the semester approaches, I inevitably tell them about my teaching a class and working on the dissertation. At this point, their mouths drop open and they ask, "How do you do it?" I explain that it's really not that much work. I mean, really, how different is working a full time job, teaching 1 class, and finishing up a dissertation that different from teaching 4 classes, maintaining a research agenda and performing various service requirements? Not so different, I'd argue. Most faculty I know work more than 40 hours a week, usually somewhere between 50 and 60 is normal. I have a 35-hour work week. With just 2 extra hours of work a day on the dissertation, that's only up to 45 hours. Throw in another 10 to accommodate the class and I'm at 55. It's not that bad and it's temporary. Besides, I love what I'm doing in all those realms. My job is really fulfilling right now. I'm enjoying the work I'm doing on my dissertation, which I think of as the glue between my regular job and my teaching gig. And I am usually energized by being in the classroom.

The dissertation should be fully drafted by the end of September. That means that there's only about three weeks where hard-core dissertation work overlaps with everything else. There will undoubtedly be revisions, so a few days of intense work there and voila! I'm also not going to kick myself if I need to extend my deadline to May.

There are a lot of projects going on on my job, but most are long term, the kind of things you work on slowly, a very different pace from either writing the dissertation or teaching. And there's just the daily tasks between that. Sometimes projects arise from the daily tasks, but generally I can be selective.

This is my second time teaching this course, so I know what it's like. My assignments will be generally the same, though the readings are different. I've pre-read all the books (some more than once), so it's a matter of prepping for discussion rather than having to keep up with the readings. Grading doesn't occur until the end. Feedback is given mostly verbally, working one-on-one with students in conferences. This is time-consuming, but I find it much more amenable than grading stacks of papers.

I have managed bigger work loads before. I think be fine, but thanks for asking.