The end of another semester is upon us. As you may have noticed, this blog hasn’t exactly been updated for a few days. This was for a couple of different reasons. First and foremost, my day job as a professor at SIUE had me buried in test writing, grading, and searching my office for any potentially lost assignments. As of noon today, all that is safely behind me and grades are submitted. The second reason for the lull in blogging was my choice to spend some time coding. You may have noticed that some advertisements have sprouted up on the right side of the screen, and there are now links for donations in the sidebar. These website changes were not-so-subtle hints that with the end of the semester, this blog and podcasting are going to become my new day job for a while.
For the next year, I’m going to try an experiment. I love teaching, I love creating New Media, and I research. I can’t do any of these three things well if I try and pretend to do one full time and the other two part-time. Thus, to enable myself to do what I love in the proportions that I love them, I’m going to not teach at all this summer, and starting in the fall, I’m going to be part-time faculty at SIUE.
What exactly does that mean, and why are the changes needed? Well, this semester I taught 4 hours of physics lecture (60 students), 3 hours of astronomy lecture (36 students), and 6 hours of lab. I only had a grader for lab. This meant that I spent a little over 40 hours per week preparing to teach, answering student questions during office hours, teaching, grading, and preparing assignments. In addition to teaching for SIUE, I’ve also been working with students from SAO. I love my students, but when I see them more waking-hours each week then I see my husband, I am teaching too much. On top of that teaching load, I’ve been working on Astronomy Cast, this little blog, and I’ve occasionally been writing for Sky and Telescope.
As part of my required university paperwork, I had to add up how much time I spend each week on different tasks. When faced with that form and a painfully honest look at my life, I realized I was spending 80+ hours a week doing work. The teaching and occasional writing, I did for my paycheck, and everything else I did because I loved it. After talking with my software engineer of a husband for a while, we decided to I should take a risk and see if I could find ways to bring in income blogging and podcasting. I’ll still keep working with SAO, and I’ll be teaching one 4-credit lecture class and team teaching another in the fall at SIUE. Teaching just won’t be as all-consuming as it was this year. Going part time is a risk, but is one that I’m hoping will prove worthwhile.
This is a one year experiment that has me planning to take this blog daily, and has me looking for grants, looking for sponsors, and has me looking to the Bad Astronomer, Phil Plait as proof that sometimes this experiment can have a positive outcome. We’ll see what happens. I’m grateful to those of you who have been here since the beginning, and I’m hoping that in the next few days and weeks I’ll convince you to tell all your friends about this site and all that it will have to offer.