Professor with small group of students. March 15

Mid-Career Faculty: 5 Great Things About Those Long Years in the Middle

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I’ve been thinking here lately about that long mid-career stretch where there is no clearly defined beginning or ending. You’re no longer a new faculty member, but aren’t yet an old one. From a pedagogical perspective, what makes that time window unique? In a recent post on tired teaching I identified what I think is the major challenge of those years—keeping your teaching fresh and keeping yourself engaged, enthusiastic, and instructionally moving forward. On the other hand, some special opportunities are afforded by that long stretch in the middle. The question is whether we’re taking full advantage of them.


tired teacher March 1

Waking up to Tired Teaching

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I have been wanting to do a blog post on tired teaching for some time now. Concerns about burnout are what’s motivating me. Teachers can reach a place where teaching does nothing for them or their students. They don’t just wake up one morning and find themselves burned out; they’ve moved there gradually, and it’s a journey that often starts with tired teaching.


instructor thinking October 19, 2015

Refresh Your Course without (Too Much) Pain and Suffering

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See if this sounds familiar.

You’re scheduled to teach a course you have taught before that desperately needs revision. The content and pedagogy go back for a decade or more and are both sadly obsolete, or the grades have been abysmal and the students are threatening to revolt, or someone (the department head, a faculty committee, or you) has decided to offer the course online, or maybe you’re just bored and dread the thought of teaching it again.


November 10, 2014

Climbing the Stairs: Observations on a Teaching Career

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My office is on the first floor of the education building. I have spent 27 years in this building. Unless I have a meeting in another department, I rarely go upstairs. Recently, however, I started a daily routine of climbing the four sets of staircases in the building. Trying to slow the progression of osteoporosis in my right hip, I go up one set and down another three times as I make my way around the building. This physical activity has given me a chance to engage in some mental reflection. Here I will briefly share five observations on a career spent teaching in higher education with an eye toward encouraging newer faculty to achieve longevity in the profession.



October 3, 2012

When Teaching Grows Tired: A Wake-up Call for Faculty

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Bea Easton, the adjunct English teacher in Glen Chamberlain’s short story, “Conjugations of the Verb ‘To Be’,” is doing a crossword puzzle instead of grading English essays. She hasn’t touched the stack of papers since she read the first page of Staci Cook’s composition in which definitely is spelled defiantly and points are emphasized by using really twice.


Journey of Joy: Teaching Tips for Reflection, Rejuvenation and Renewal September 14, 2012

Signs You’ve Lost Your Joy of Teaching

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It’s 9 a.m. on a Wednesday morning around mid-term. “Carrie James” (a fictional name) grabs her textbook and class roster and heads upstairs to her first class of the day. It starts at 9 o’clock. She makes a pit stop before arriving at the classroom. When Carrie enters the room, most students immediately stop talking. She quickly calls roll and says, “Let’s get started. We have a lot to cover today.” Carrie begins the lecture by displaying a list of key terms on the document camera. She lectures for most of the period, closely following the text outline and then announces a test to the moans and groans of students. As soon as class ends, Carrie returns to her office, shuts the door, and turns her attention to the manuscript that she was editing for publication. She has an hour before her next class which she puts completely out of her mind.


March 28, 2011

“But This is What I’ve Always Done” – Tips for Avoiding Teaching Ruts

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As an undergrad I had a hard time settling on a major so I sampled a lot of different courses during my first couple of years. I remember signing up for one course that looked perfect because it combined two of my interests — media and American politics. In addition to learning about the changing dynamics between the two from a historical perspective, I was excited to see how the professor would incorporate the current presidential election into the course.


May 18, 2010

Mid-Career Faculty: Staying Challenged and Enthused

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“Mid-career faculty can easily reach a plateau where professional goals are less clear, even while an array of attractive personal and professional options may be available. The absence of motivating professional goals can cause professors to settle into a dull routine or begin to invest their energies in activities outside of their professional lives.” (p. 49)


November 20, 2008

Mid-Career Faculty Issues Often Overlooked

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Faculty careers are often divided into three phases: beginning, middle, and end. New faculty have been studied in some detail—probably because of the great influx of them. So have senior faculty, although less than new faculty. But what about that expanse in the middle? Researchers Baldwin, Lunceford, and Vanderlinden (reference below) quote sources describing mid-career faculty as “perhaps the least studied and most ill-defined period in life.”