One academic sin I’m hoping to avoid, this term, is over-preparation. I’m finally back to not having any new course preps this term (not that last term’s early medieval seminar was a burden, but. . .) and I need to take advantage of that fact. Yes, I need to revise a few lecture plans and work up a list of key terms for the majors’ class so that they can consult that as they prepare for the newly added midterm test as well as looking ahead towards the final.
The trick is not to spend so much time devising the perfect new lecture plan and the ultimate list of “terms to know” that I bleed over into my research time. So I’m setting myself some time limits: ten minutes a week to ensure that all material for the next week’s class are appropriate and waiting in their respective course folder: one hour a week for needed revisions to any one of those classes. I really don’t see more need than that since I’m quite happy, overall, with the three courses I’m teaching this term. What will be hard is limiting myself to that hour and a half each week of revision when I know I could endlessly tweak and perfect each class. After all, didn’t Matt Groening teach us, in grad school, that you could avoid
reality finishing your thesis by reading one more book?
But where’s the value to myself, my students, colleagues and university in bumping up the course experience a few percentage points if I sacrifice my research and writing (it’s always research and writing that gets sacrificed, if you notice) in the bargain? I’m finally learning that lesson.