Bons mots

  • "We live as though the world were what it should be, to show it what it can be."
    ~ Angel, "Deep Down," Season 4

  • It is difficult
    to get the news from poems
    yet men die miserably every day
    for lack
    of what is found there.
    ~ William Carlos Williams, from “Asphodel, That Greeny Flower”

« the end of politics in the classroom? | Main | December oasis »

November 25, 2012

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Ok, so...this is random but I'm kind of interested in this thing about how much ya'll teach. We have five credits each, which means five classes for most people--that's not counting study halls, writing center, or advising things. But one of my classes is half credit, which is how I end up with seven classes. Granted, my biggest class is 18 and the smallest is 15, so we're not talking hordes of teenagers but still. That's seven classes, a two day a week study hall, two hours a week writing center, two clubs (plus I co-advise a third, which is a long story), and I have fourteen advisees (I meet with them weekly as a group).

Meanwhile, people who take on admin roles of various kinds get huge course releases. My chair teaches only two classes. It seems like too much of a discrepancy to me--I have several colleagues in the department who only teach two or three classes while I have seven. There are two of us with seven, actually. Wouldn't it make more sense if everybody did the equivalent of five?

We need a better system for distributing work. But my question for you is how many faculty you have in your department?

Anastasia -- yes, on top of our four courses and our fifth-period equivalents, we also each do two study halls or writing center shifts a week, plus advising (advisee groups meet twice a week and range from 4-8 students, plus individual meetings as needed). And there are clubs that "count" as partial course equivalents and clubs that teachers advise on top of their other roles. And it is true that things work out slightly differently for the folks who teach half-classes; our art teachers, for example, teach way more hours in the week than the rest of us because most of their courses are half-courses but meet 3 times/week, whereas most full courses meet 4 times/week. (Of course, the art teachers don't have to grade papers or make up exams, and their classes are usually smaller, so perhaps it all comes out in the wash.) There are definitely some discrepancies, but the school works very hard to keep the workload distributed as evenly as possible, because otherwise resentments start to build! It does sound like your school could use some recalibrating to even out workloads.

We have five full-time faculty, and our part-time folks make up the equivalent of almost 2 more FTE, for an upper school of about 350 students. (There are three more English teachers in the middle school, which is smaller.) And our classes are about 16 students, although they range from 12 to 18 depending on idiosyncrasies of the schedule.

Most administrative tasks -- being chair, or a departmental educational technologist (a new role as of last year), or the like -- are the equivalent of one course, and few folks have more than one such role, which is why the teaching loads remain roughly equal. (But in typing out this comment, I've just realized that one department chair is also the educational technologist for her department and perhaps therefore gets two course releases; I'll check that out and then keep the info in my back pocket in case it does turn out to be the case that I want to swing multiple roles for next year.)

Oooooo. I'd do a self-education course in film studies, using some grad course syllabi for an Intro to Film Studies and Intro to Film Theory. Sounds like a world of opportunity!

Yeah, I'd probably write -- but creatively. I have several ideas for novels, plays, and poetry. But time? No time. I also have a scholarly project that I want to write, but I would be willing to plug away at that during the summer instead of sabbatical time (were I in your shoes).

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Who is this What Now?

  • I'm an English teacher at a pretty darned good high school (the justly famous Fabulous Girls' School, or FGS). I am partner to D. We live in an adorable, messy little house in Adventure City, where we are hoping to have more frequent adventures than we have thus far. Two cats -- the Muse and the Contemplative -- live with us and keep life at home plenty adventurous.

    Email me at whatnowblogger at yahoo dot com.

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