This term, I have returned to teaching after thoroughly enjoying my full year of teaching release. When I taught at The University of British Columbia’s Department of Political Science, I reached a point where my teaching load was 2-1-2 (5 courses per 12 months). That was, in my view, incredibly exhausting. I had very little time left to do any research or consulting. But since I arrived at the Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economicas (CIDE), I have really moved forward full steam ahead with writing every single day.
I recognize that there are people who teach a 4-4 load and I have no idea how they do it. I simply couldn’t. I also recognize my privilege in that CIDE is extremely flexible with the teaching loads. Normally I would only be required to teach a 1-1 load. This 2013-2014 academic year, that is the way it is going to work. I am thrilled to be teaching what would be considered a relatively light load, because I do have PhD students to supervise, I am teaching this fall, and I have a very heavy research agenda and a lot of writing commitments on my plate.
How to balance teaching and research? I can’t say that I am very knowledgeable in this regard, but what I am doing is keeping the balance of my weekly schedule skewed towards research. Because I only teach one course per term, I am able to keep 3 days out of my 5 days strictly to research duties. If you see my weekly template, you can notice that I am teaching Mondays and Wednesdays, both days when I have a lot of energy. And I also have office hours on those same days.
Of course, by the time 5pm hits I am completely spent on Mondays and Wednesdays, therefore I only spend the evenings doing research-related reading. I also devote Fridays to do the bulk of my service-to-the-university (search committee, library committee) and service-to-the-discipline (peer-review) work. And of course, I write every single day early in the morning, which is where I am more energetic.
Overall, I think balancing teaching and research is always a challenge for academics, whether in teaching or research oriented institutions (CIDE would be considered an R1). I just hope I’m always able to strike the right balance!