When I was an undergrad, working my federally-funded work-study job full-time over the summers, I’d be surprised to see a few of my professors, working in their office. It’s not as if they were teaching over the summer; my undergrad college is a small, Catholic, liberal arts university, and most of the summer session classes were (and still are) in the MBA program, as opposed to the undergrad side.
One of them I knew was married with kids (and the wife and kids I got to see and be acquianted with because his family was with him when he was teaching at the Rome campus when I was taking classes there for my sophomore Fall semester).
And so, when I was delivering various office supplies to the Classics department, I said, “Hey, Dr. Sweet.”
“Oh, hi,” and he laughed his little, barely heard laugh that all of his students — past and present — know so well.
“Teaching this summer?”
“No, no, just getting other things done,” he replied. “With the kids at home, I can’t really work there.”
At the time, I thought it was a little weird; I mean, he didn’t *have* to be in his office. He could work at home, in his PJs or whatever Classics professors wear when they’re slumming around at home. His wife was a stay-at-home mom, and all of his kids (at the time) were school-age. It wasn’t as if he was tied to do full-on baby duty or whatnot.
Also — it was summer. He wasn’t slated to teach any classes. Wasn’t he supposed to be on *vacation*?
It wasn’t until I became a full-time faculty member myself — as well as being a homeowner and parent — that I understood what his reply meant. Being full-time doesn’t just mean the 15 hours per week, spent in the classroom. It also doesn’t just mean the other 15 hours per week reserved for office hours and other faculty duties, like committee work, grading, and paperwork.
Being a full-time faculty member — if one likes one’s field — pretty much means having their field (and how it can be brought into the classroom effectively) constantly on the brain. Maybe it might not be in the front burner — like when I once saw the same Dr. Sweet in a local grocery store, buying multiple tubs of ice cream and bags upon bags of potato chips, which I could safely assume were for his kids. But it’s certainly *at least* simmering on the back burner, until certain “OH!” moments immediately, and sometimes unexpectedly, brings it to the front, like when he saw me, his upper-level Latin student, and he started talking about Homer’s concept of “andros” in the check out line.
It’s called “talking shop” — and full-timers are notorious for it. And if a full-timer cares about improving himself/ herself professionally, then academic breaks, like Christmas, Spring Break, and summer, just mean more time for lesson, course, and program planning, as opposed to having that time divided between teaching, grading, and seeing students.
As a full-timer myself, I have become, for lack of a better analogy, a Dr. Sweet. For instance, during this Spring Break, I have graded both sections of Composition II’s documentary notes, my World Lit II’s unit exams, and one section of Composition I’s essays. I have one section left to do — the online Comp I class — which I plan to finish by tomorrow. I have answered student emails and posted on that online class.
On Tuesday, I went to the office to do more grading there, because household errands and chores were slowing me down from catching up on my grading. Since I was on campus, I visited the Testing Center, the Media Center, and the Registrar’s Office for various and sundry class/student related reasons.
At one point, I compiled a master email list of student members of the English Honor Society (it’s called Sigma Kappa Delta) that I’m now a lead advisor of and fired off a welcome email. This reminded me to send off a Powerpoint copy of the Society’s recruiting flyer to my fellow full-time English faculty members, pretty much begging them to show the flyer in their classes next week.
As of this time, I just have that one online class’ paper to finish grading, post the grades on the online gradebook, and email their graded/commented essays back to my students. That’s my goal for tomorrow. As well, I’m planning programs and activities for the Society, which I promised I’d do for the Society officer whom I met with two weeks before Spring Break. My goal is to get coherent programs and activities planned out by tomorrow as well, to present to that officer when classes resume on Monday. The new member induction is next month, and we still have a helluva work to do to scare up new members.
Lots of work to do. And that’s just been me. The Hubby as well has been doing the same thing — just for his field, for his campus. If anything, he’s doing *more* since he’s a mentor for many adjuncts in his field, an advisor to many students, and an important committee member to many committees (some of them pretty high-powered ones, to boot).
All the while, keeping the household running and making sure Daniel is a happy, little boy.
Another example before I end this post: As I was closing up shop last Friday, I saw a fellow English faculty colleague a couple of doors down from my office, still tapping away at his computer. “Have a good evening, Mike,” I said.
“Any big plans for Spring Break?”
He snorted. And then he listed a litany of things that had to be done at home — he’s married with the type of kids that he’s claimed is the reason why he calls his house “the birth control house — because anyone who goes in there learns to appreciate good birth control.” Then he listed an even longer litany that had to be done for work. “I’ll be coming up here a few times next week.”
“Ah, the solitude of the monastic cell,” I observed. He has a blog called Monk Notes.
Then he laughed, shaking his head. “I tell you what, I should’ve been a monk. That way, the bad thoughts in my head would just be my own.” And he leaned back, savoring the thought; then he straightened up and cocked his head at his monitor.
“Have a good one, Mike.”
No rest for the full-timer.