It's been a long time since my first and second entries in the Balance Series, but Part 3 has finally arrived. As the summer winds to a close, it seems appropriate to consider an obvious but important question: should graduate students and early career faculty teach summer courses?
In my limited experience in the profession, my impression is that a decent number of graduate students teach summer courses but that full-time professors rarely do so. Lecturers with temporary positions seem about as likely to teach summer courses as graduate students. Admittedly, since so much of this comes from anecdotal evidence, I imagine there's a lot of institutional variation here.
I have a taught a summer course during both of my summers at the University of Tennessee. In both cases, the classes took place almost exclusively during June and had 24 meetings of 90 minutes. These classes are brutal because they meet every weekday and (aside from the 4th of July), there are no holidays. As a result, I did not have time to do much of anything else while I was teaching those summer courses.
While teaching a course independently is great experience and the summer stipend for teaching is quite high compared to the stipend I receive during a typical semester, acquiring this extra experience and money essentially requires sacrificing 7 weeks (1 for prep work, 5 for the course, and 1 for final grading) of the summer. Since that time could be spent working on research-related activities, it's worth considering whether summer teaching is worth it.
In my own experience, I've found teaching these courses quite valuable, particularly because I am still a relatively inexperienced teacher the grand scheme of things. But if I were, for example, working on a dissertation or preparing to go on the job market, I can see how the summer might be put to better use by focusing on other things. What are your thoughts, readers?