Friday, October 30, 2009


I've been wanting to write more about transitioning from contingent faculty to tenure-track faculty. The thing I'm most conscious of, though, is that it's difficult to bring up details about my transition without telling so much that I'm easily identifiable. I already think that a determined reader could figure out who and where I am, and I'm not sure how faculty and administrators at my college would perceive my blog.

So I keep finding that there are things I don't want to talk about: I don't want to vent my occasional frustrations with students; I don't want to talk an ongoing administrative decision; I don't want to talk about some quirks that make my college distinctive.

What, then, can I say about this transition?

On the one hand, it hasn't been that difficult. Having several years of contingent teaching experience is an advantage in planning and preparing courses. I have materials I can use; I have syllabi and lesson plans I can adapt for this new setting. I know what kind of assignments I like to give and how I like to grade them. All of that experience serves me well.

On the other hand, I worry more about how I fit in. As a lecturer, I didn't stress much about such things. Now I worry about things like: is my grading too lenient? am I going to get a reputation as an "easy" or "soft" professor? Should I socialize more with other faculty? How important is it that I attend talks, performances, and other events on campus?

I still struggle, too, with the issues of mindset that I mentioned here. I still need to remind myself, periodically, that administrative issues being discussed really are pertinent to me. As a lecturer, I often thought to myself, "The outcome of that decision won't affect me, and no one here cares what I think anyway." But here, I am new, but not irrelevant. If I comment on an issue, it is likely that the comments will be taken as seriously as anyone else's.

So those are my current thoughts, midway through the fall. I have also actually been thinking about writing, but that's for another post. 

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hanging in there

I'm taking a moment's break from grading jail this weekend for an update.

  • The student I alluded to back in this post seems to be getting along ok. She stops by my office regularly for clarification on issues that confuse her, but the very questions she asks demonstrates that she does understand the basics. 
  • I have another non-Christian student in my class on the Reformation whose outsider's perspective is really refreshing; he's not afraid to say things that challenge Christian students' ideas of what's normal, and that livens up discussion immensely.
  • I'm not entirely happy with how I've organized the second half of the Renaissance-Reformation survey course, but we'll see how it goes; I'll teach it again in the spring, so I'll have opportunities to tweak it very soon.

My job requires that I teach every day; this is a very teaching-focused liberal arts college and essentially everyone has an every-day schedule. This is definitely been a shock to the system after the last couple years of part-time adjunct teaching. As tiring as that was, I was usually able to arrange to teach only on two or three, or at most four, days, and had some time during the week to recharge and work on other things. Being in the office and classroom every day is wearing. I need to figure out how to carve out some time mid-week to refresh myself, but I haven't quite managed yet...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Berks 2011 CFP

The call for proposals for the next Berkshire Conference of Women Historians is up here. Also as seen here and here.

I attended the last Berks conference in 2008, and had a really excellent experience. Good scholarship, good opportunities to meet people, and much less fraught with professional angst and status-seeking than many other conferences. I'd also especially like to encourage medievalists to consider participating. It is easy for large conferences to seem dominated by the modernists, and I think it's important for scholars of the ancient, medieval, and early modern world to be visible participants. There is a lot of time yet to think about submission, as the deadline is March 1.