Day: December 8, 2014

Teaching Asininements

I am fuming. I am about to teach for a new (to me) undergraduate course with large enrollment. This course is usually taught by people in an area other than my primary one, but I am helping out because the other area is temporarily understaffed. Now I find out that this course, which had traditionally always had TA support, will no longer have a TA at all starting next semester because reasons.

Great. I have a huge new class and no help in the semester during which I have travel once or twice every month and have a major proposal renewal due. Yes, I know, I can have my graduate students help me,  and I fully plan on having them help, but that’s not the point. First, my students are paid as RAs on grants to do associated research; if they are doing a TA’s job, a TAship should pay for that. Second, I feel blindsided.

This ordeal brings up another aspect:  who teaches undergrads. We are having increasing student enrollments (a good thing) and I am one of the people who does a good job with undergraduate courses, as per student evaluations; also, I like teaching undergrads, they are fun. As a result, I end up teaching undergrad courses a lot. More often than average, it turns out. It is now virtually expected that I would teach undergrads: when I recently expressed that I wanted a graduate course next year, I received “But we can’t staff required courses!” Well, maybe you should ask one of the people who always seem to teach advanced electives or graduate courses.

Being a good department citizen sucks, because then everyone expects you to continue to be a good department citizen, forever and under all circumstances. Rather, I should follow the lead of my self-centered colleagues, who not only routinely get out of heavy instructional or service duties, but when they do decide to grace the department with some of their good will once in a blue moon, everyone thinks they are just wonderful.