Five Days a Week?

For the full-time academics out there, how many days a week do you teach?

I know there are two schools of thought with the popular one hereabouts being to pile up all your teaching on two, three, maybe four days so you have at least one reserved for research. The alternative model is to teach five days a week, spreading it out in smaller chunks.

At my undergraduate university, that could even be six days a week given the existence of Saturday morning classes (usually taught by grad students and sessionals, as I recall.

Because of family issues, I am unavailable for one time slot four days a week. It effectively blocks off many afternoon classes since running a seminar for three hours in the afternoon automatically runs afoul of my restricted time.

As a result, I’m pretty well resigned to teaching five days a week. It has the advantage of spreading matters out so I’m not teaching six hours one day followed by three hours the next and so forth. The disadvantage is that it really breaks up my days and, when the inevitable meeting requests come in, those bits and pieces of time are fractured even more.

At least this only lasts through December. Starting in January, I’m on my lighter term, teaching three classes instead of five (sure, one of these is a graduate level directed readings course but I feel completely justified in counting that as a course in that I have one student now pursuing a topic far afield from my research and I’ll have a second directed readings student starting in January in a completely different topic also far afield). I might actually get to keep Mondays and Fridays sacrosanct for research, except for when those pesky meetings interfere.

However you experience teaching, do you prefer to spread it out or bunch it up? Do you have any say in your schedule? How does it affect your ability to research and write?



Filed under academe, teaching

7 responses to “Five Days a Week?

  1. At my place, which is an R1 and we teach 2-2, it is very rare for faculty to teach as much as three days a week; typically we might teach one afternoon class 90 minutes twice a week, and a three-hour evening class on one of those two days. Obviously this is very light compared to almost anywhere else. On top of this, we don’t even have the option of teaching on Fridays (essentially a college-wide, nearly university-wide decision to limit Friday classes). This is what it is, and obviously at this load, preferences as to how many days you want to teach are largely irrelevant. On the other hand, I don’t consider a 2-2 load an excuse to only come into the office two days a week … but that’s a rant for a different day …

    • jliedl

      Definitely a very different environment with a 2-2 load. Ours is officially 3-2 but I can count on the fingers of one hand the years that I’ve taught that official load and not use them all.

      We used to have fairly few Friday classes: we ran 50 mins x3 MWF morning and 80 mins x2 TTh all day. But this was deemed an inefficient use of classroom resources and the province wouldn’t pay for more classroom space if we were ‘underutilizing’ our current resource so now it’s 80 mins x2 all over the schedule which leads to some weird match-ups. I do admit that I love to have one day a week where I don’t have to be on campus simply because it frees up that travel time. I expect that would be even more of an issue with your travel time. But staying off campus three days a week would feel wrong.

      • Actually my travel time isn’t especially bad – about 20 minutes to get to work and 25-30 minutes to get home, which in comparison to some of my colleagues is quite short. I make it a general practice to be on campus four days a week during the term, or a bare minimum of three. Honestly I couldn’t handle all 17 of my graduate students, plus admin responsibilities, if I weren’t around.

        The other piece of the logic of our scheduling, like you say, is that because we’re a massively commuter campus with a huge part-time contingent, there are no 50 minute classes whatsoever – either 80 mins x 2 or three-hour blocks, so the only way anyone could even conceivable teach four days is if they had 2 80×2 classes and scheduled them all on separate days.

  2. I have taught five days a week. Don’t much like it. But I think if it were five afternoons, it would be all right. The thing I need is blocks of time away from students and meetings.

    • jliedl

      These are three mornings, two middays and one early afternoon. I do get blocks of time away from matters but not always in a useful fashion!

  3. I do 4/4, and this term (and last) it was 5 days. But, understand, I have one class on T, Th & Friday. And I live very close to campus, so going in is not a big deal. I did a couple of years where it was M-Th, and I quite liked the reality of that, even though I never got any research/writing done on that Friday, no matter how I scheduled it. ADM has it right for me: I need blocks of time away. This term, I have them – and will again next term.

    • jliedl

      That sounds like a pretty good balance for you. We only live 5k away from campus but there’s one road in for vehicular travel and the public transit’s no damned good for our current neighbourhood, so it’s rather a hassle to come in and out. I always feel guilty when Mike has to make several extra round trips in a week if he’s needing the car while I’m at work!