Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Some light reading material for bedtime

I met with the professor who currently teaches the course I will have in the spring today and she let me borrow the textbook for the class. It is giant and unwieldy.

I got a lot of information about how the class runs, what is expected of me, what is expected of the students, etc. And then the department chair introduced me to a group of students as "the new physics professor" and I laughed before I caught myself. Way to be cool, me. I am getting really excited.

Also exciting? I was offered a second section of the same class. Now I will be teaching T and F, 2-5pm. They offered me a third but it would have been on Monday and would have required I be there early enough to set up the experiment for the week and I just could not figure out how to make that work with Charlie's preschool schedule. Don't I sound like a dream come true to a potential department chair?

I am struggling with what the right decision is here, truthfully.

I figure on Friday I can pick Charlie up at school a little early and have him home or to whatever childcare arrangement I have made for them (still haven't discussed the additional hours with our Manny (my dad, who charges $10 an hour and a welcome home beer, a bargain really)) and make it to the university (panting and sweating) with plenty of time to compose myself before class.

On Monday I would have to be at my school an hour or more (I have no idea) earlier, which would mean someone else would have to pick Charlie up and I wouldn't see him between dropoff and my arrival home after class (a little before six). I realize that people do this every day, but I'm having a little trouble wrapping my head around the logistics.

The benefits of taking on the third class are all professional--more responsibility, more pay, gold stars for being a team player. But my heart says two is the way to go right now. There is a lot of time for me to work more hours if I want to; once I get a feel for what is required I can make a more informed decision for another semester (I hope). The chair was quite laid back about it, no pressure either way, do what is best for you, etc. I can't believe my luck in finding this department!

On the way out of the building today the chair said to me "You seem to have a really even personality, like you would do a good job handling students who get frustrated and want to give up." I think raising small children has more professional benefits than some would care to admit!


LL said...

It seems like your gut is telling you to start with two, and it's probably right. One thing I learned with balancing law school and a baby was that everything took longer than I originally thought and I needed about double the childcare than I originally anticipated. I thought- only 12 hours a week of class? 20 hours of daycare should be way more than enough! Yeah, not so much. Between studying and meeting with professors and meeting with groups, etc. I needed more than 1.5 hours a day of child-free time outside of class.

You already have tons of experience with balancing it all, but my two cents would be start small (esp. since while it seems like it would be a professional bonus to add that third class, it would not be a professional black mark to not do so) and try to arrange for a few more hours of childcare than you think you'll need.

And as far as the day when you won't see Charlie between drop-off and 6 p.m., that will be a hard transition. But if you can use that day to get a lot done and not have to bring work home at night and leave quicker on your other day, you might find it works much better than you would have imagined. I think the biggest thing for kids is routine and sometimes the back-and-forth of seeing mom and then not seeing mom is harder than just saying goodbye earlier in the day and hello again at the end.

Sorry, this is long! You'll do fantastic either way and so will all your boys. Congrats again on the position, it sounds like a really wonderful place.

Hanah said...

I pretty much agree with everything LL said. First of all, congratulations! It sounds like things are going great for you, professionally. I do think you made the right choice about not working Monday, if you felt uncomfortable about it. As you get used to being away, it will become easier to work more hours. And if you can become employed on a more-permanent basis, it will make sense to switch your childcare arrangements around to accommodate it. It doesn't make that much sense now.

I have one day a week this semester where I don't see Charlie (my Charlie, not yours, hehe) from drop-off until about 6:30 PM, at which time he is often already in bed. It's really hard, but the fact that I'm teaching during the late afternoon hours forces me to be engaged during the time I would otherwise be daydreaming of going home. It's the morning that's hard, knowing that I won't see him for hours, but since there's no possibility of going to spend a couple of hours with him at that point, it works itself out. Nonetheless, I'm really looking forward to next semester, when my classes are earlier in the day.

AJU5's Mom said...

Two classes is a great load to begin with. Your first semester teaching any class is the hardest because you have to start from scratch. After that, adding another section of the same class isn't as bad because your prep time will be less (so total work time won't be that much more).

Good luck!

Alyssa said...

I completely agree with what the others have said so far. If your gut is telling you to say no to the 3rd class, then go with it. You have plenty of time to add more classes in the future if you desire.

Good luck - I'm so excited to hear about your experiences!

Rebecca said...

I agree, go with your gut!!! Congrats on this awesome opportunity!

Rima said...

Maybe you can add the third section later? I think what you've decided on is perfect for now.

I am seriously so impressed at what you have achieved and what you'll be doing (and I'm placing equal weight on your professional merits as well as what you do as a mom). You rock! I might have been able to handle physics if it had been taught by Professor Academomia!

Sarah said...

Sounds so awesome! I agree with LL about more childcare than you think you need-- have fun and can't wait to read about it :)

Andrea said...

I obviously have nothing to add on the work-child balance end (except my own ever-growing sense of panic)... so I will remark that I agree with your new boss about you having the ideal disposition to teach physics. That even-ness will come in handy when students start breaking down in the middle of circuits lab because they don't understand and they NEVER understand, and they just wish they could quit lab and quit college because their annoying roommate ate the last piece of brownie which I was SAVING!

Um... yeah, congrats!