Saturday, June 9, 2012

"Boy, I'd like to have YOUR job!" I wish I had the proverbial nickel for every time I've heard that recently. Of course, for those seeing the obvious life of leisure that I am now leading, its understandable. School has been out for a week, and the endless summer is stretching before me. My Facebook page is beginning to yield photos from this mountaintop or that, 'check-ins' at baseball stadiums, airports, and pubs. Ah, the life I lead! I don't fault the envy of some people, even the bitterness of a few. For the perception is, indeed, that the life in academia is one of plentiful days off, periodic week-long vacations, and, of course...the three months off in the summer. I will not try to refute the fact that there are definitely benefits to my job. I DO enjoy what I do (about 95% of the time) and can't imagine doing anything else right now. But, as any teacher who does his/her job correctly will tell you, the schedule during the school year is not one to be envied. There are times I long for a job where I can 'punch out' at the end of an eight hour shift, and not have to think about work again until I punch in again the next day. Days when I spend two unproductive hours driving home, knowing I have at least four more hours of work ahead of me when I get home. (Frequent comment from husband: "Are you STILL on that computer?) Weeks when I have multiple three hour long classes (that's a class that's three hours long, not three one-hour classes!)which take at least that long to prepare. Of course, my audience of yawning, bored, i-Pad and laptop armed students, are spending all their time on Facebook or texting, because face it, folks, its hard to 'entertain' for three straight hours and keep them all engaged. I bore myself sometimes. And the truth is, teaching is only a small part of what I actually do as a college professor, which is hard for most people to understand. Meetings, committee work, office hours, trying to do research or publish (which although isn't specifically 'required', is definitely part of my job) takes up probably more time than actually preparing lectures and standing in front of a class does. But, I digress. The point is, if the job of teaching was a 48 or 50 week a year job? Well, then you could 'take this job and shove it', because the toll that would be taken on one's mental and physical health would be outrageous. The pace would be grueling were it not for the summers off and the interspersed vacations. (Full disclosure....summers and school breaks are not totally 'off'...students email constantly with requests, and preparing for the fall semester starts at the beginning of August). So, if you ever feel tempted to say to me "Boy, I'd like to have YOUR job", I'd like to invite you to spend a week in my shoes...say, oh....mid February. After hard can it be, right???