One of the ideas I've played around with in the last couple of months, ever since I didn't get the job in January, is being an academic class dean. This is a recently restructured job at FGS, and I was immediately interested in the position when I first heard about the restructuring a couple of years ago, but of course that was the year I was taking on being interim department head. And after that year of being department head, I was so fried that I was eager not to work with any adults at all this year! But today the faculty got an email saying that there will be at least one academic class dean opening for next year. So now I need to decide if I'm interested in pursuing this.
Here's the basic description of the position: Each grade has two deans, one academic and one from student affairs. For one's deanery grade, one monitors student progress, reviews course requests for students, communicates with teachers about students in their courses, and communicates academic concerns to the high school director. There is also involvement in the various class traditions (a big deal at FGS), but the point person on those is the student affairs dean. There is an almost weekly class meeting, plus two weekly meetings, one with the collected deans and one with the class student officers. There's also some involvement with opening days registration and orientation and class retreats. All of this is a one-course equivalent.
Hmm, as I type all of that out, I kind of don't want to do it! So blogging this has already been helpful. Here are the other pro's and cons I've considered:
I like the idea of taking on a role that's about making sure no student falls through the cracks and coordinating the people and resources that can help students do better. And I think I'd be in a good position to be a sophomore dean next year, because I've taught half of this year's 9th-graders, so I'd have a head start in getting to know all the kids in the class and keeping up with how they're doing academically. My department head has encouraged me to apply because she thinks I would do it well, but she also has this fantasy that I'd be in a position to improve the academic culture of the school, and I don't think the academic class dean actually has that sort of influence. But maybe I'm selling it short.
At the same time, the meetings! Oy, the meetings! I mostly don't like meetings, and administrators and deans have lots of them First of all, I'd have to attend every 15-minute morning assembly, which all faculty are supposed to do, but we often don't. But the deans do have to go, because they have to take morning roll of the students in their grade. And then there are the weekly meetings. Plus, I currently have valuable down-time during grade-level meetings, whereas as a dean I'd be helping to run those meetings. Of course, I would also have one less course, so maybe it would all come out in the wash.
I would be gaining more administrative experience, in case other opportunities arise here at FGS or I decide to apply for another job like the one this January. But I want to apply for a sabbatical next fall for the following year, so -- if I get it -- I'd only be in the dean position for one year. I'm not sure that another one-year administrative position, after being interim department head for one year, would actually look so good for applying for outside jobs. Of course, I could always go back to doing it after the sabbatical was over, if there were an opening.
But, if I'm honest, I think that the course release is probably the biggest attractor for me. It would mean that I'd only have to teach 3 1/2 courses instead of 4 1/2 as I've done this year. The three sections of freshmen pretty much wiped me out this year, especially in the first half of the year, and I just don't want to do that again next year. But is it worth taking on a new role just so that I don't have to teach three sections of freshmen, since there are other ways of meeting this goal?! At any given moment, wouldn't I rather be teaching a class than sitting in a meeting?
Okay, the more I write, the more I'm hearing myself not be excited about taking on something new but rather trying to change my teaching responsibilities and add to my resume. But I already told my department head that I don't want to teach three sections of freshmen next year, so maybe I've already accomplished one of those goals. And surely by now I'm beyond the point of adding to my resume! No, forget that; I'll pursue only the opportunities I'm interested in.
And that's the difficulty I've been having -- trying to figure out what I'm interested in. Sometimes I think that over time I lost my gut sense of things, although it's gotten better again in recent years. But, shocker of shockers, writing it all out has helped. I think I won't be applying for the position.