I am lucky to have a job that I love. But in the eighteen months of settling into full-time academia, I seem to have lost sight of the ‘love’ and become fixated on the ‘job’. A weird thing has happened in recent weeks, in that I’ve tried to become more focused on what is actually important about my work — and what feels the most rewarding.
There are two main strands to the workload of an academic at my level: teaching and research. Research covers the writing and publication of scholarly work — be it journal articles, book chapters, conference presentations, monographs. Teaching is what it says on the tin.
In 2011, mid-PhD, I took my first class at Western Sydney University (then UWS). It was a boring compulsory course, but I caught the bug, and have loved teaching ever since. With the transition to full-time employment, I’ve always tried to have time for my students, time to sink into my pedagogy, but that time has always felt sapped by other commitments. I say felt, because I’ve realised that the sapping of time has only occurred because I’ve let it.
This semester, I’ve turned a corner. The most important commitments I have, during semester time, are my students. Everything else is secondary. To be clear, I don’t think the time I spend on teaching or research will change this semester (I have a book chapter to finish, a presentation to write, and a monograph to approve all by September). Rather what has changed is where my head is at most of the time: ensuring my students are, if not blissfully happy, then at least reasonably clear about what I’m trying to teach them, and the experience I would — ideally — like them to have.