My planning for the autumn started early this year—around the beginning of April. It started with an introduction to ‘my’ course. In September I’ll be the course coordinator for the first time, for a course called Technological Development from a Societal Perspective. Last year I was the seminar leader for this course; this year I’m also doing some of the lectures, workshops about essay writing, and the administrative side too.
The first step was to meet our department’s study director to talk about some basic course information, such as last year’s course evaluation and the budget. The budget? That’s to cover the ‘cost’ of my time, other teachers, and classrooms. Some of it that is understandable; for example, it costs more if a professor teaches a course than if a PhD student teaches it. The classroom cost makes a bit of sense, because programs with more class time have to pay more for rent and maintenance. But it’s silly too, because I make the schedule before the rooms are booked so no one can tell me what they actually cost until afterwards.
My biggest surprise about being on this side of the classroom is how little time there is for preparation. I have to interpret the course outline, which doesn’t change from year to year, and prepare lectures and seminars. There is only so much time for each part of the course. For example, I get 6 hours of prep time for each two hour lecture. If I spend more time on it, it comes out of my time for research—or my evenings or weekends.
When I went to university, my classes were taught by professors who had done the same course for years. But they were professors with stable jobs, with contracts for at least for 5 years and often tenure for life. That’s certainly not how it is for a PhD student here! And not even after, because a career my field in Sweden often starts with a PhD, then a post doc, then some junior contract positions…and even then a full professorship isn’t a given.
That’s all to say that it’s a challenge to teach if you don’t have a stable employment status. It doesn’t mean that I can’t prepare for my lectures, but it does mean that I have to see some of it as an investment in my teaching resume. I will have some long days in September. But on the other hand, it is usually inspiring to meet students and teach and it’s nice to get away from my computer monitor for a while.
Photo of the campus in Norrköping, where I will be teaching, by Peter Modin. (C) Linköpings universitet.