Thanks to Natalie Sokoloff and an another tenured DWC member for their responses to this newsletter's questions!
Question 1: One issue I'm having relates to time management. I feel as though I'm spending an exorbitant amount of time prepping for classes. It seems like it's all I do. I know this will get better once I've taught courses more than once but I feel like I can always make a lecture or activity better and better the more time I spend on it. How do you stop yourself from doing this to reserve time for research, etc.? I've tried setting at least one day aside for nothing but research, but it seems like something always comes up. Help! :-)
Answer 1a: This is a tough question to answer. It sounds like our newer faculty member is going through what we all went through in the beginning--and it WILL get easier as she has taught more and more of these new courses. Setting aside time is a good way to deal with some of this. Maybe give oneself a certain number of hours in one day (say 4 hours) instead of a whole day for research/writing. That way, if there are other things that get in the way, she can with good conscience spend 4 hours on research and 4 hours on other issues. (Maybe use a timer here!) Another thing is YES: give yourself a limit as to how much you will rework something to make it better. Try things out in class and learn from that so that you do not have to keep perfecting the lesson/assignments by yourself. Make learning with your students a more collective activity. It is helpful to both students and faculty to have exercises that make students more active learners, so do a lot of mixing of types of learning. That way the teacher is not always "on".
Make sure to also have some fun! I know how hard it is to be a new teacher, but it is important to nurture yourself. If you take time to listen to music with a cup of tea as a break, which often helps.
And make dates with other people to force yourself to go out and have fun.
Answer 1b: This is always an issue, and I can really relate. One of the things that I had to do was to concede to myself that I would never have the perfect class. I value teaching very highly, but my university values research. Knowing I would lose the opportunity to teach if I did not produce the research was a great motivator for me. So, I simply set aside time for my classes and did not work on them outside of that time frame. At first, I felt guilty, but my students did not seem to think they were getting short-changed. I also focused on making that time productive time. For example, what was my goal? Was it to create a lecture? Then I did that and did not let myself get sidetracked. Was it to create an exam? Ditto. And so forth. I have prepped seventeen courses in 16 years at a research university, so I have had to really work on how to do the most with the allotted time. The other area that can be problematic is service commitments. I took on a lot of them, and they ate into my time considerably.
Until I had tenure, I routinely worked 50-60 hour weeks just to get it all done. That may not work for everyone, but I really wanted this career, so I did what I had to do to make it work. In the end, it is a judgment call. What is the best choice for you, with your goals?
Question 2: I'm going to the ASC meetings this year and I want to become more involved with the DWC. What's the best way to do this? Also, do you have any tips for me for networking with others in my field?
Answer 2a: There are several ways to do this that are relatively easy: First, on Thursday, 4-7pm, Kim Cook and Natalie Sokoloff co-facilitate a Pre-conference Workshop on Feminist Criminology: Theory and Action. We meet in Wilson Room, 3rd Floor of conference hotel. Afterwards, we go out for dinner with whoever would like to join us. This is an easy way to get to know folks on an informal level and then know folks throughout the time you are at the conference. Also, on Thursday and Friday, early in the morning, the DWC business meetings (at 7:30am!) are great places to meet members of DWC and learn what is going on. Finally, I recommend going to DWC webpage and printing out sessions of interest at the meeting. In these ways, the person may meet in a number of different venues and ways lots of different people. We also have a DWC Social on Wed night: music and good food and great company. It is offsite this year, not far from the hotel at The Gage Restaurant, 24 S. Michigan Ave.
Answer 2b: First and foremost, attend every function, especially the business meetings! At the business meetings, you will have an opportunity to sign up for committee work. Find committees that you believe will be of interest to you. Introduce yourself to that committee chair. Don't be shy! My first few years I simply attended the meetings of the DWC but never spoke to anyone. So, I was not getting networked into this great group of women (and men). Then, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to become involved with the newsletter, then Outreach (a great committee for meeting people). Speaking of Outreach, sign up for at least one time slot to sit at our Outreach table at the upcoming meetings. And drop by that table whenever you can. Introduce yourself to others at the table, ask them to help you network with members with similar interests. The DWC is the most inclusive group I have ever known, and I found that once I let people know that I wanted to be involved, I was welcomed in and put to work. Keep in mind we have all been new to the division at some point in time, and we know how it feels. After you have been involved for a year or two, if you think you have the time, be willing to run for an office. We always need new, energetic people to be involved.
As an aside, I am convinced that without the connections and bonds I have formed through the DWC, my career would never have been as successful. There are opportunities through the DWC that can change your life. As a bonus, it makes going to the annual meetings even more fun.
Question 3: I took a job at a research university two years ago only to discover that my true passion is teaching. I want to move to a teaching college, but haven't been teaching much. What can I do to be a competitive applicant?
Answer 3a: This is a harder one to deal with because I don't know anything about the person's current situation: number of years at the college, research interests or teaching interests, areas of concentration, etc. But here I would suggest coming to different DWC meetings and talking with different people who have gone through these questions throughout their careers. Again, the Tuesday Workshop and DWC business meetings would be a place to meet folks and bring these issues up. Also, we know that community colleges are much more likely to focus on teaching rather than research for faculties to get tenure (if tenure is still around in a few years!!). Finally, some schools are now having special "teaching" lines, where faculty are responsible only for teaching--and not research, but you teach a larger number of classes each semester. However, this probably isn't any different than what happens to people who teach in community colleges, where their course load is higher than 4-year and research universities. Further, there are definitely 4 year schools that are teaching-focused. Networking about this is probably the best thing someone can do to find out what is out there.
Answer 3b: This is just my opinion, of course, but I think it is easier to move to a teaching college from a research university than the reverse. But, I can empathize with your concerns about experience. Of course, at two years, none of us have tremendous experience, so keep that in mind. In the meanwhile, search out opportunities through your university to improve your teaching skills. I am at a research university, but we have frequent short classes to improve teaching, and in my early years, I took every single one that I could. Online teaching skills are in high demand now, so if you can, take a short course in online teaching. Start working on developing an online version of one of your classes. Develop your statement of teaching to highlight what you have done, and don't be apologetic about what you have not yet done. The world needs people with a passion for teaching, and so capitalize on your passion. When you start applying, have trusted colleagues, perhaps at other schools, review your submission materials to help you make them shine. As a woman, I had a hard time putting myself forward, but that is a skill that you should learn to make yourself standout. And, most of all, good luck. Know that you have a huge support network in the Division on Women and Crime. We are all here to help you make this transition!