Friday, April 11, 2008

I Knew I Couldn't Sabbaticalize Forever...

Because the job change from the south to here, my tenure and sabbatical clocks were not aligned. Most people at my university go up for tenure and then (assuming they get it) they go on sabbatical. It is good. At that point in your career work on your first big research topic should be complete (or you wouldn't have gotten tenure) and you need the concentrated time a sabbatical allows to get deep into your second project. That way, when you come back from sabbbatical, you have a solid base to work from. Also, people have had a chance to forget that you exist and that you are now tenured and therefore are just the right person to serve on this that and the other committee....



But as I said, this is not how it worked for me... I got tenure and then had to hang around for another 3 years until my sabbatical came around. I was fresh (tenured) blood and way too visible, so I got pulled in lots of directions. The service demands that come with being an associate professor are enormous. As I prepared to go on sabbatical (nearly a year ago!), I resigned from everything. There was some work that it was tempting to stay connected with, but I didn't do it. I cut all ties, figuring I could start fresh and with a bit more intentionality when I go back to teaching in the fall.



But now the plans for the coming academic year are reaching a frenzied level -- everyone wants to nail things down before the end of this term. I learned two weeks ago I am to again be discipline representative for History. I'm going to be on the Curriculum Committee for the college. I'm teaching an overload in the fall (4 courses instead of 3). And I was just asked to come back and take up the directorship of the Civic Engagement Project (something I did for essentially 5 years!). Considering the state of my discipline and department, I turned down the latter, but it wasn't easy. I don't want that initiative to fail after have helped to birth it. Other opportunities to say "no" are coming... I can feel it. I'm thinking part of my coming down from the sabbatical needs to be assessing and prioritizing my service work. I've actually seen colleagues just flat out say that they will never do this, that, or the other. I'm stunned by this and more than slightly annoyed that that means the work will fall to others (like myself). But then I think, if they get to do it, maybe I can too. This would be a new concept for me, that's for sure!

3 comments:

TeacherPatti said...

K-12 teachers are a little different, in that we come up for tenure automatically and you should automatically get it IF you can hang on to a district for four years, which is getting harder and harder to do. Sabbatical is hard for us to get, and of course we don't get paid :(, but I have heard of teachers getting a year off to finish their Masters.
Do you have to participate in a certain number of committees? If not, you can pull a public schoolteacher thing and whip out the contract and say, "Well, the contract says...." :) :)

Warren said...

Overload, discipline rep, curriculum committee... mmmm, sounds like a relaxing fall. You'll need to take up a new hobby to absorb all of your free time.

Zoe the Wonder Dog said...

Well, teacherpatti, college faculty are notoriously hard to organize. We tend to cling to this interpretation of academic freedom that fetishizes individualism and while many faculty are pro-union for "them" (you know, those folks over there), they wouldn't even consider muting their own desires for the good of the whole. In other words, there is no contract to point to!