As I stated in my last post, I’m completing a self-directed online course entitled 23 Things. Unfortunately, I’ve had difficulty keeping to schedule. Because it’s self directed, there has been no one to make sure I hit the deadlines, and this lack of direction has actually been quite good practice for a future in academia. You see, part of my problem at the moment is that I’m teaching a summer school course on Macbeth, and six mornings a week I’m in the classroom, and six evenings a week I’m writing lesson plans and marking. What I’m not doing is researching, working on the thesis, writing articles to submit for publication, or completing my 23 Things tasks. This is, from what I’m told, the same time constraints lecturers contend with. Not enough time for research and publication due to teaching constraints.
Each day, as the clock moves closer to midnight, my eyes grow sleepy, and my academic to-do list goes unchecked, I think about what went wrong. I try to uncover the reason I didn’t get anything done other than teaching, lesson plan writing, answering emails, reading for class, and maybe a bit of dinner and walk. After much pondering, I realise that I took too long of a walk, spent too much time prepping for class, or could have put off marking to another day. Then, I declare that the following day will be different, but — let’s be honest — no matter what order I complete my necessary tasks, there will never be enough time to be a teacher and a researcher.
How do I combat this? If I am to be an academic, I have to find a way. If I want to continue on with my PhD, I have to make it work. In fact, a stipulation of my PhD funding is that I teach. I’ve taught and researched in the past, but – for some reason – this time it seems more difficult. Perhaps it’s because I’m in the classroom every day (even if it is just mornings) and once my schedule reduces down to one or two classes a week, the finding time to research will be easier.
However, I’m not despondent. Not because I think I’m a super academic who can do it all, but because I’m grateful I’m getting the opportunity to figure this out now. In three years, when (if all goes well) I’m in a lectureship, I won’t have the room to figure it out. I will need to publish and teach and be involved in community benefit programmes. I will need to prove that I am able to do it all. If I don’t, the REF will crush me. So, at least, I get to practice now.
So, this is where I reach out to my academic compadres. If you have any tips on how to balance daily teaching with long-term academic goals and projects, let me know. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would like a few pointers.
PS-I did find time tonight to get caught up on my 23 Things, and I’ve posted my tasks on the 23 Things Page.