Teaching! (although not)

Okay, this is a very late post today, but I did want to get something out. To be honest, I thought about needing to write something briefly yesterday afternoon, and then forgot until this evening (when I was on my way out to an event). But, I have a bit of time, and something to say, so I thought I’d post anyway, late as it is.

I was emailed late last week about teaching for this fall. And when I saw the email, I wasn’t sure how to respond. I’ve been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to fill in and teach a couple of lectures in the past, and I really enjoyed it. But now, there was a lot more to think about. First, I’m trying to finish. And everyone I know who has ever taught always talks about how much work it is – even when you may get a lot of resources from others. You still have to give 3 hours of lecture a week, write exams and assignments, manage TA’s, mark exams and have office hours. Second, I have the startup, so while I’m hoping this fall that the main things (research wise) on my plate will be to finish writing and run my experiment, the startup is also going to be there needing work. And third, I’m not so interested in academia now, which makes teaching slightly less valuable to put on my resume.

I was also kind of iffy about the courses that were available to teach. One was a lot of programming in C, which I haven’t done in a long time. While I’m sure I could re-teach myself, that would make the course a lot more time consuming. And the second one was on databases. I liked my database course, but that was like 10 years ago now (yikes), and while I’m doing some database stuff now with the startup, I’d still need to do a fair amount of refreshing on the subject.

However, I couldn’t bring myself to immediately dismiss the option, so I met with the professor arranging courses to chat with him. It turned out that there is potentially a course I’d be very interested in teaching (a first year one). Which made me temporarily more excited about the prospect. I then, smartly, met with my supervisor to discuss it more. After a pretty honest discussion (where he did state if I wanted to, just go for it, it didn’t matter to him), we agreed that with my work load for this fall (experiment, writing, startup) taking on a course was just going to greatly delay, at the very least, the writing portion. And since I do want to graduate (sooner rather than later), the writing portion is very important.

So, in the end, I turned down the opportunity. Which does make me a little sad, as I’m sure I would’ve enjoyed it. I did let them know that I am possibly available for the winter (January) semester, so maybe I’ll end up teaching after all.

Have you had a chance to teach? Or do all grad students at your school or in your department teach (it’s rare in my department)? Did you like it or hate it?


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