Monday, March 24, 2008

Professorial Wisdom

On the list of my dream jobs is law school professor. Most professors really seem to love their fields and teaching, the job pays well, and the schedule is conducive towards work/life balance and having a family. However, this week taught me that being a professor is not as easy as it looks.

Professor Responsibilities
Someone told me that the Wall Street Journals ranked professors as one of the highest paying jobs in relation to hours worked. We believed it. They teach, what, 4-6 hours a week. Sit in their offices for students to come. Write a few papers. How hard could it be?

Yet, attending last week's conference on curricular innovation showed me that many professors are resistant to curricular change is because they are already overburdened. More than one professor mentioned the pressure on professors to crank out article, get hits on SSRN (the social science research network), sit on committees, and speak at conferences. Basically, "the academy" grants tenure for, and the ever-hated US News rankings rewards, articles published rather than focus on the quality of teaching.

Dealing with "Problem Children"
Last week I also heard horror stories of one of my 'kids.' This particular student is probably much older than me, but he is in the section I supervise. From the stories of how he has been inside and outside of class, I give tremendous respect to professors who have been able to control him.

He frustrates me and I do not have to deal with him shooting up his hand for every question, being rude to other students (even for a law student), and saying inappropriate things in class. I went on a mini-mission to try to figure out if there was anything that I could do to help, but after a heart-to-heart with one of my favorite professors, who also had him, I realized that there was little I could do.

Grading, Grading, and more Grading
For my law journal, I have to grade thirty ten-page short write-on submissions. Grading is not easy, and I could not imagine grading for a class of 90-100 students who write papers much longer than this.

Moreover, I want these students to succeed and I have nothing to do with their writing ability. As I go through the papers, I have been yelling out "no, not the passive voice again!" or "come on, that is what id. is for!" I could only guess what it feels like to be a professor, who actually tried to teach the students information, grading poor examinations.

And worst of all, my enchiladas I packed for dinner leaked in my insulated lunch bag, which amazingly leaked out into my tote bag where I was carrying some of these papers. I felt so bad that 2 of my papers were drenched in enchilada sauce. I fail at being a professor.

No comments: