I recently got a job as a lecturer in law and I teach criminal law and legal foundations. It’s my first academic job, and so far, it has been nothing less than interesting.com. On the first day, I was faced with a classroom of blinking eyes. The first few minutes were actually quite intimidating.
So after initial introductions and ice breaker challenges, I eased in quite well. The first day was a challenge because I really had to fight off first day nerves, coupled with the fear of stuttering, speaking too fast, loosing my voice half way and all of the above! Thankfully, I was able to give myself the pep talk and just get on with it.
For anyone who might just be starting out in academia, I have perhaps some advice which might just be useful.
1. Don’t be afraid.
Presumably, you got the job as a result of an interview. Those who interviewed you obviously saw something in you which ticked the boxes for them. If they didn’t, it remains highly unlikely that you would have got the job. First day, and probably first week nerves are perfectly normal. Don’t be afraid – just get on with it.
2. Give yourself the pep talk
I would presume you didn’t just fall into the job and that a career in academia is a career path YOU have chosen. If you find yourself in a ‘nervous’ state, give yourself the pep talk. You have the knowledge and your students have come to learn from YOU.
3. It’s a performance.
It might be helpful to think of teaching as a performance and that your students are your audience. It’s important you know your course content, so get familiar with your lines! You don’t want to get caught unaware. Remember, all eyes are on you, always.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
I’m naturally an inquisitive person and so asking questions are second nature to me. Perhaps it’s my legal background. Anyway, I digress. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or raise concerns if you don’t quite understand something. Your work colleagues are there to help you and it’s perfectly normal to have enquires during the first few weeks or months even. There’s no harm in asking!
5. Have fun!
So far so good I am happy to report that I have no complaints! It is just my first month but honestly, I actually love it. I’d say to try and relax and take each day as it comes. Chances are you’ll run into a few bumps along the way, but hey, name one job that doesn’t experience that. Teach away and have some fun while you’re at it!