Saturday, March 22, 2008

Teaching vs Writing while on the Market

This is for those thinking about taking a Visiting Assistant Professor position or adjunct teaching while looking for a permanent job. Claire Potter at Tenured Radical has a typically wise post geared toward history job candidates who didn't find a job the first time around and now need to plan an upcoming year and another try. While she offers advice about finding a temporary position, she also says:

But here’s the other piece of advice I will give you. It is a real question whether you should get a full time visiting teaching gig; or whether you should stay away from teaching for a year, delay submission of your dissertation until April, and get some articles out to journals. If you can teach and write at the same time, fantastic. But also know that full time teaching is often consuming, even for a veteran teacher, and it is also really interesting, which means that you will want to spend time on and with your students that should probably be spent on your writing at this stage of your career. If you do not yet have publications and/or a polished dissertation, writing is a better use of your time in the long run, as long as you can find some other way to feed, house and clothe yourself, and as long as your committee will agree to keep you on the books for another year.

Because honestly? Showing that you are a mature scholar who can see an article through to publication and a person who has a clear sense of how the dissertation will become a book is going to help you far more than a year of teaching when, in the fall, you pull out your c.v., dust it off again, and go back on the market.

I agree. And if you have no dissertation because you are a J.D. and not a Ph.D. is all the more important to develop your scholarship before going (back) on the market. If you are moving from practice to teaching and you have student loans payments, a mortgage and other financial obligations, carving out time may be a stretch, possibly making a VAP position more attractive. But think creatively about whether you could swing a leave of even a few weeks, perhaps coupled with vacation time, by downsizing if needed. Six weeks of intense work may enable you to make the progress you need on the article that will be the topic of your job talk. More from Potter is here.