Today is Happy Woman Professor Day and the associated mandate is to blog about the good aspects of our jobs. It’s the end of my teaching week, and I’m up for the challenge, because I always feel a little giddy when I walk out of the classroom on Thursday afternoons. In fact, I’m going to try to write this post without any qualifiers (no buts).
I like being a professor for the sheer variety of things that I get to do over the course of a day or week. This morning I had a search committee meeting, then I lead a class where I lectured and we discussed a paper. I had a quick lunch with colleagues then went back to the classroom for a lab session. While my students worked on the lab, my TA and I pondered how to deal with propogating errors in the last set of assignments. And when I’m done here, I’m going to do some research tasks until the end of the day. So in the course of this single day, I’m doing teaching, research, and service. I’m interacting with peers, mentoring students, leading large groups, working one-on-one, and getting my solitary time as well. I’m communicating verbally, in written form, graphically (I draw pictures on the board), and quantitatively (lots of equations today).
I like the continual challenges my days present me with. “The answer to that homework problem seems to be off by 3 orders of magnitude. Hmmm, maybe I should have worked out the key before assigning the lab. I guess I’ll have to do the math on my feet.” Or the question that comes out of left field in class and forces me to draw connections that weren’t in my mind a few minutes ago. Or maybe it’s the rapid mental gear switching that’s required as a result of all those things listed above as variety. I actually love writing new lectures and getting into the material and figuring out how to sequence my presentation of things so that it makes the most sense to the students.
I’m looking forward to getting to know this part of the country better as I establish a research program here and lead class field trips. I enjoy hearing my students stories; they come from incredibly diverse backgrounds. My colleagues are so nice and my department chair is accessible when I need him. Most days I have some degree of freedom to set my own hours on campus. There is an enticingly convenient and tasty cafeteria and coffeeshop. My office has a whole wall of windows. Our department has a diverse and interesting lecture series. My mind is definitely stimulated by this job.
So, with the vast wisdom of <6 months on the job, I can truly say that I am a happy woman professor. No buts, for today anyway.