Working *and* Teaching?

I got an email last week asking me if I could teach two seminar groups on an undergrad module next semester. I’ve been wanting to get some teaching in for a while now – I’m three and a half years into the PhD and while I’ve presented at quite a few conferences and had a few things published, I haven’t done any teaching. No lectures, no seminar groups. I have taught privately (A-Level and GCSE English and RE) but that was a few years ago and not in the subjects I’m studying now. I know that having teaching experience on the CV would be a good thing in the current climate of fewer jobs and better, more qualified candidates, but when trying to juggle a full time job it’s proving pretty hard.

Work is really busy, in part because my line manager got a new job a couple of months ago so I’ve picked up a lot of his campaigns, and skills is a big priority for us at the moment so it’s all hands on deck to get things out on time (and I’m already planning things for this time next year). Being a person short on the team means we all have to chip in and work together, and the team I’m in is really good at that. Unfortunately though it also means that we end up working long hours, which again doesn’t make studying or teaching easy.

Turning the teaching down was really hard, partly because I felt like I was letting the department down at short notice, and partly because it’s a module I think I could teach and the experience would be invaluable. It was the right decision because I’d have to condense my hours in the day job to work five days in four as well as drive up to Aber and back in one day and teach and two classes in between. I’ve driven to Aber and back from south Wales in a day before and it’s not something I’d like to do on a regular basis. In some ways though, I was also glad to not take the teaching on because I haven’t taught a seminar before. What if I couldn’t actually teach the module? What if I didn’t get on with the students? What if I turned out to be a really bad teacher? I’m not going to know the answers to those until I actually teach a seminar, I know. But they still worry me. And turning the teaching down means I don’t have to worry about them for a while yet – I can push it to the back of my mind and concentrate on getting my methodology chapter finished and making sure the next work campaign gets out on time.

It strikes me there’s not a point, as such, to this post, other than working full time and studying makes it hard to do all the things I feel like I’m supposed to do as a PhD student.

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One thought on “Working *and* Teaching?

  1. It’s an interesting difference between UK and US systems (?). Here most PhD students go to school full time and you have to teach two courses per semester for the stipend which covers tuition. Of course, this is the majority, the minority are people who work full time in addition to earning their PhD. I think the working full time and completing graduate school is more common at the Masters level here in the States.
    I do feel for you though, as making these decisions, and juggling, is hard. As for teaching, a passion for material is always key to great teaching, so I have no doubt you’ll be great!

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