Lecturing Series: Integrating Teaching Responsibilities with Admin and Research

     
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As an early career lecturer finding time to do anything other than teaching preparation and being in the classroom is challenging. However, this is a vitally important time in your career and you need to make sure that you are developing a rounded academic profile. This article will offer advice on how to integrate your teaching responsibilities with other aspects of the job.

The Challenge:

When you start lecturing you will spend a lot of your time writing lectures and preparing small group teaching. It is always more difficult to teach courses for the first time and in subsequent years the preparation time becomes far less onerous.

If you have a part time or temporary contract, you might also be doing another job, or commuting long distances to work, and then it is harder to dedicate time to other aspects of your academic career.

Don’t over-prepare:

Inexperienced scholars spend far too long preparing each teaching session. It should not take you more than a day to write a lecture, or a few hours to prepare a seminar. As a lecturer you simply cannot afford to dedicate more time than that. If you have been asked to teach something completely outside your expertise you may have to do more preparation, but as a rule of thumb: don’t over-prepare. This will free up more time for you to do other things.

Administration:

You may be required to keep detailed records such as course registers and you must keep on top of this. But you might also be invited to attend meetings and to take a full part in the life of the department. This will be expected of you if you are an early career lecturer who has a permanent post.

If you are a temporary or part-time staff member, it may not be compulsory. But if you want a career in academia then you need the experience of taking part in these activities. So, even if you feel that you do not want to attend meetings because they are not part of your contract and you do not get paid to do so, attending occasionally is a good idea to help you understand some of the important concerns in the sector and get a clearer idea of how your university works.

Research:

You must keep up your research and writing profile while starting your lecturing career. This may mean publishing articles from conference papers, being an active book reviewer, or turning your PhD into a book. Doing this while preparing new classes for teaching is a very difficult juggling act, but it is vital that you do not allow your research and writing to fall behind. You may find it challenging because you no longer have your PhD supervisor with whom to regularly discuss your research. You have to have the ambition to drive your research forward yourself.

Blending all three:

Having a career that integrates teaching with research and admin is a challenge even for experienced academics. Most scholars spend their term times focusing on teaching and admin and then dedicate the holiday periods to research, but sometimes deadlines do not allow you to make such a neat division. Good time management is key; for example, if you can restrict teaching to two or three days per week, this will free up at least one day for research. Other people get around the problem by working at weekends, although it is also vital to maintain a sensible work-life balance and not to burn out.

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