Monday, January 12, 2009

Year One Yakoff from Yakima. (This One's Got a Surprise Ending!)

I admit I'm in over my head. I'm in the middle of my first year on the tenure track. But I'm not a newbie. I have 4 years of teaching experience, three in grad school, and then 1 year as a VAP where I taught 3/3 at a private college.

But this past semester was my first time on my own, 4/4 load, my own syllabi, my own decisions, my own time management.

And I blew it. I especially blew it in my classes. I had 2 sections of the large survey course in my discipline. This was the course I was most looking forward to. But what happened was miserable. I built a "foolproof" syllabus, but then became the fool. I fell further and further behind the reading schedule. Finally, in the last 5 weeks, I had to just cut huge chunks of what we were to cover. I couldn't finish it any other way. I excused one major unit test, skipped 20 years of important developments, and sent my students into the second part of the survey sequence missing about 20% of what they need to know.

I know how to build a reading schedule, but what I could not do was cover all the essential material AND get finished in 15 weeks. I kept thinking all semester, "survey is stupid." I know that's not the answer.

I sat down over the holiday determined to rework the course - and my courses for THIS term - and I just can't seem to do it.

I really think some of this is the college's fault. They have to know that a new person is going to need guidance. But after wooing me through the job process, they more or less just let me run my own ship, and that's not turned out so well. I have seriously considered asking for more help, but that's the sort of thing that should have been offered. If my students aren't ready for the second part of the survey, I think the department needs to know that they could have helped avoid that unpleasantness by helping me more.

I'd like to hear what other new proffies think about their departments and how we're introduced to our job. I've made a mess of the Fall semester, and while I may be partially to blame, I blame my colleagues just as much for not better preparing me.