Most UK universities start their term in either 2 or 3 weeks time so the countdown to the new academic year has begun. Research projects are being hastily completed, or set aside, and attention turns towards teaching. What is the job like for lecturers this time of year?
Preparing teaching materials is one of the most important jobs at this time of year. If you’re lucky and are not teaching anything new this year, this simply means updating handbooks and bibliographies to reflect new works acquired by the library or new tasks that you want the students to do. But these are minor jobs compared to having to set up whole new courses or learn new material.
Scholars who have recently completed their PhDs often find themselves manically trying to read up on a new topic at this time of the summer. They have been appointed to a temporary or part time lectureship that involves teaching someone else’s course. It is hard work teaching from someone else’s syllabus and so the preparation time is very intense.
If you have been appointed to a permanent lectureship recently, chances are you will be still getting your portfolio of courses up and running and will be in a similar position. This year is my fourth at MMU and it is the first year I haven’t had to write a new course from scratch. Bliss!
Lectures or seminar plans will still need tweaking. Teaching the same course two years in a row has its advantages; you can improve on things that didn’t work well last year. But it’s important not to let a course become stale, don’t teach it in the same way year after year simply because it is easier to do that than change it. Your students will notice that you have become jaded. So, enjoy these last precious moments of summer and look forward to the excitement of a new academic year!