Brian Spears

Poet, Editor, Teacher, Blogger.

Time Card Day 2

So add another hour to last night for prep for this morning’s class. I should have done more but I was wiped out.

7:30 – 7:45 Slept in a bit today, so this is when I started answering student emails. Not too many overnight this time, fortunately.

8:45 – 9:30 Office hours on satellite campus before the start of today’s class. This should be a low-stress day except that I’m going to have to get a new hard drive put in my laptop right when I have a ton of grading to do. Fun.

9:30 – 12:20 Poetic forms workshop. Today’s class took more prep than most because I’m teaching how to write the forms rather than workshopping their poems. Today’s lesson is the villanelle, the sestina, the ghazal and the pantoum.

12:20 – 1:00 Post- class office hours.

The amount of university work I’ll get done the rest of the day depends on what has to be done to my laptop (not paid for by the university, by the way). I’m hoping I can put in at least 4 hours of grading this evening.

February 18, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Time Card: Day 1

6:15 – 6:45 a.m. Answered student emails from overnight

7:30 – 9:10 a.m. Office hours–downloaded poetry papers, reviewed what I’ll be covering in class today, worked on prospective class for Fall semester

9:10 – 9:30 a.m. Walk to class, stopping along the way for a Diet Dr. Pepper and to use the toilet. Does this count as work time or travel time?

9:30 – 10:50 a.m. Teach my first class of the day. Am I allowed to count friendly banter as work time?

10:50 – 11:00 a.m. Because I’m teaching in the same room and don’t have to walk across campus, I use this time to answer student questions, give make-up quizzes, and maybe squeeze in responses to frantic student emails. Seriously–dealing with student email makes up a minimum of two hours a day, sometimes more.

11:00 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. Second class of the day. Ended five minutes early, but spent said five minutes answering questions about whether or not student papers made it through or if they were eaten alive by Blackboard, aka the Worst Program Ever Designed.

12:20 – 12:45 Ate lunch and caught up on non-work email, by which I mean I read it and set it aside. I didn’t actually have time to answer any of it. That’ll come later, I guess.

12:45 – 2:00 p.m. Office hours don’t officially start until 1:00, but I have to negotiate the broken printer/copier so I’ll have a handout for my 2:00 class. Assuming no students show up, I’ll have time to prep for that class and either grade some papers–I got 72 of them between Tuesday and today–or prep for my poetry workshop tomorrow morning.

As of right now, I’m at 6 hours 25 minutes for the day (without counting the walk to class). I still have an 80 minute class to teach, 40 minutes of office hours after that, and then either grading or class prep after I get home tonight. I’ll post this now and then update it before I go to bed tonight. Bare minimum, though, assuming that I don’t do any grading/class prep tonight, is an eight and a half hour day, which is what most people put in.

I want to be clear about something. I’m not doing this because I want to moan and groan about how hard my job is. All I’m trying to show is that I work just as much as other people do in other jobs. The charge against academics is that we work paltry hours and get paid lots for it. My salary is a matter of public record because I’m employed by the state of Florida, and I can guarantee you that by no means can my it be described as “a lot,” but the hours I put in on an average day can be.

One other thing you might notice–nothing in that list involves my creative work, or the editing I do for The Rumpus, even though when I have a nice accomplishment in those fields, my department puts it in their report to the college and to the university. That’s because at my level, the expectation is that any creative work I do is done on my own time. I’m getting paid to teach, not create, so that’s what I’m documenting here.

February 17, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Please Don’t Throw Me Into That Briar Patch

When critics of higher ed get their two-minutes-hate going, one of the things they like to claim is that professors get paid exorbitant salaries for doing almost no work. If you work in academia, you might even have a colleague who fits that description. They’re not as commonplace as critics would have the public believe, but they do exist–they exist in pretty much every workplace, though, so the fact that they get held up as poster children in higher ed usually means there’s an ulterior motive involved.

But for most of us, especially at the lower levels, if we were to calculate what we make per hour, we’d probably decide there’s greater rewards in asking if the patron would prefer olives or a spiced green bean in their Bloody Mary. Which is why I would love it if a year ago, the Florida Legislature had done to me what Kean University is doing to it’s faculty–making them fill out time sheets.

I’d love it not because I get great joy out of doing tedious paperwork, but because it would make it possible for me to show not only the university administration, but the world at large just how much work I and my fellow academics actually do, as opposed to the amount they think we do.

So I think, in solidarity with my fellow academics at Kean U, and with the ones Wisconsin-Madison, I’m going to start filling out time sheets detailing the amount of time I spend grading, prepping for classes, researching, writing, and of course, teaching and filling office hours. Let’s see how this works out.

February 16, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

We Who Have Been Interviewed

Many many thanks to Robin Sampson for her great questions over at We Who Are About to Die. That’s one of my favorite lit-blog-type places, and I’m really honored that they wanted to do something with me.

Also, if you’re not busy on the evening of Thursday February 24, and if you’re close-ish to Fort Lauderdale, why don’t you come by the Books & Books located in the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art and hear some poetry. I’ll be reading alongside Maureen Seaton, Becka Mara McKay, and Neil de la Flor. Look at it this way–whether you have fun or not at the reading, there are plenty of bars nearby to celebrate/wash the taste out of your mouth afterward. Hope to see you there.

February 13, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Shameless Self-Promotion

It seems that if you publish a book and make a nuisance of yourself online to enough people, some of them want to interview you. The folks over at Used Furniture Review are the latest to ask me questions about my work and my book. I actually had a good time with it, and I like the way it turned out. Check them out on the whole, not just my interview.

February 8, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments