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« Reflections on my upcoming 40th birthday, hitting targets, and our relevance in the profession | Main | Job-market reporting thread (2018-19 season) »

08/13/2018

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Anonymous SLACer

I have a job market question that may or may not belong here. If not, please feel free to ignore. The reason I say it may not belong is that I was just granted tenure this year. I am very happy about this, of course, and recognize that in many ways I have won the academic lottery. However, for a variety of reasons I do not want to spend my entire career at my current institution. My question is about applying for jobs now that I am an "Associate." Should I bother to apply for a position advertised at the Assistant level or not? If I do apply to such positions, should I make clear in my letter that I am hoping to be considered at the Associate level? More broadly, is there any hope to move after one has tenure if one is not also a "name" in the field?

I am Moved

Anon. SLACer
You can move. I would not bother applying for assistant prof positions UNLESS you want to redo the march to tenure. Most places won't bargain on this. They may have only been approved for a entry level position. You had better have something to offer, if you think you can move. Do you have special administrative abilities (can Chair a dept with success) or some notable research accomplishment. Otherwise you will not likely look like such a great catch. A WORD OF WARNING: applying for jobs sometimes produces discontent in your current job. That is, as you apply you imagine moving, and then see more and more reasons why you want to move!

Anon

Does anyone know how common teaching demos are? In my experience, some teaching schools require them (but not all) and some research schools require them (but not all). Is it completely random, or is there a pattern?

Lauren

On the teaching demos question: my experience with campus visits was that all schools with a 3/2 teaching load or above required a teaching demo, and those with a 2/2 didn't. (I base this both on my own experience and those of friends I was close to through the job market.) I, personally, don't know of any research-focused jobs that do require a teaching demo (although the institution that I've ended up at is pretty balanced between research and teaching and did require a teaching demo; my guess is that at research-heavy-but-undergrad-focused programs there will be the most variance). That said, you might have a teaching demo for a teaching-focused job at a research-oriented job (e.g., a permanent lecturer position).

Amanda

I agree with Lauren. I've never heard of a teaching school that didn't have a demo, or a research school that did. And oh my the flyouts without teaching demos are so much easier. Just a lot less stress...things can go very wrong in a teaching demo.

Anyway, the exception might be elite liberal arts schools which in some sense are considered research schools but they likely have a teaching demo because they are also very student focused. Would be good to hear from others who had interviews at elite liberal arts schools.

Recently on the market

I have done multiple on-campus interviews that included teaching demos at non-US schools that self-conceived as research schools. YMMV of course but I would warn against a strong expectation that you won't have to do a teaching demo if you're applying to non-US research schools.

Marcus Arvan

I too did on-campus visits at multiple non-US schools, and every one included a teaching demo, including visits at schools clearly recognizable as research institutions.

E

Is it just me or are there (already) an unusually high number of open AOS open rank job searches this year? Are these even worth a shot?

EHM

In response to Amanda: just one data point, but at Wellesley we don't do a teaching demo. Rather, we encourage the candidate to make sure their talk is pitched to an undergraduate audience.

SLAC tenured professor & chair

We do something similar to what EHM has suggested. We want a talk aimed at an undergraduate audience. It is more of a hybrid at my institution.

cw

We're on 3/3 with some research expectation. Candidates for tenure-stream positions in our program do both teaching demos and research talks.

At my grad school, candidates for tenure-stream positions did both as well.

I had an on-campus at a teaching school ten years ago. I was asked to give one talk, a research talk that would be accessible to undergraduate majors.

SLAC Prof

In my experience teaching oriented schools--SLACS and non-research-intensive universities--*tend* to require teaching demos, and research-heavy schools *tend* not to. However, there are exception.

When I was an undergrad, my selective SLAC didn't do teaching demos. (But this was over twenty years ago.)

And hen I was first on the job market, I had campus visits at two very similar institutions (in the same state, even)--lower-tier research universities with Philosophy MA programs, but no PhD program, 3/2 load--, and one required a teaching demo and the other didn't.

Anon

Thanks for these helpful replies! There is nothing that terrifies me more about interviews than teaching demos.

SLAC tenured professor & chair

Anon: Don't worry so much. I've been the chair of a search committee 4 times in the past 6 years, and only 1 person has done poorly in their teaching demo. Most people leave me feeling bad about my teaching and inspired to try new things because they are so darn good.

Amanda

I agree teaching demos are stressful. I'm not sure why...but for me having someone watching me teach is way more nerve wrecking than giving a talk. Maybe because I am used to the latter. And often for teaching demos I had to prep a course on a subject I had never taught and knew little about. Not only that, but you are (at least sometimes) going into a class, in the middle of a course, and you don't know the students, their names, or their personalities. That all makes it very difficult, but clearly as SLAC tenured professor says many people succeed in spite of the difficulties.

Anon

Thank you for your encouraging words, SLAC tenured professor & chair. I really needed to hear this.

SLAC tenured professor & chair

I should also say: we want to like you when you come to campus! We want candidates to be awesome and to be successful (at least that is the healthy view myself and my colleagues take). We aren't looking to knock anyone down. We would love it if we had 3 candidates that were awesome that we had to choose between.

Recent grad

Amanda,

I think teaching demos are stressful because teaching is somewhat of an act. We get into character, we often tell noble lies, we encourage the student who asked a somewhat silly question, we make jokes, we tell prepared stories, etc. The faculty watching know it's partly an act and when those parts are. Giving a talk, however, is less of an act. And when it is an act, it is less clear that the audience knows exactly when.

junior faculty

I'm curious to get some perspectives on the appropriate time to tell your current institution (if you are in a permanent position) you are applying/have applied to other positions.
Seems we have options all the way from "as soon as you make the decision to start applying" to "only once you have accepted an offer". And I imagine there is some variability in thought.

Left

I told them once I had signed a contract. But I did not even say where I was going (except to those I could trust). Do not give people more information than they need. Their inner-arsehole just might rear its ugly self.

Amanda

I would never tell someone until you have an offer. And if you are for sure taking the offer then don't tell them until you sign the contract. I don't know why anyone would even consider otherwise. Telling them you are going on the market seems a terrible idea.

Anon

I have similar questions/worries, and I am extremely stressed out about applying from my current TT position. Suppose someone is teaching a MWF schedule and lands multiple on-campus interviews. The faculty member will likely have to miss a number of teaching days. What is one supposed to do in this situation? How is one supposed to explain multiple absences, especially at an institution where there are strict policies that discourage canceling class?

junior faculty

Thanks for some of the responses re: telling current department.

I guess, from my perspective, if you actually like your department or the people in it - but perhaps are leaving just for a better type of position, etc. - then it seems rude to leave them hanging so late in the game.

By the time you get a contract offer (or accept the offer) it may be very difficult for your current department to replace you for your classes the following year.

So, I guess common courtesy is the main reason I see for telling earlier rather than later. But, of course, self-interestedly, I can see why you'd wait.

Also, given the discussion on campus visits and canceling class, letting your department know around then is a way to avoid having to lie about why you are canceling class!

Anon

Junior faculty, do you think most philosophers will be understanding and still okay with being your colleague in the event that you do not receive an offer? It seems like it could be very awkward for some people to disclose interviews, go to them, not get an offer, and so stay at their job. But I definitely agree with your points.

Amanda

Junior faculty: if you told them early most likely they would not be allowed to search until you have an offer anyway. That is institutional policy in many places, and anyway just makes sense. Why would they do a search if you might be staying? Besides, it is a buyer's market, finding temps is easy. Second, I guess it always depends on the vibe of your department and administration, but in my experience departments do not take this well. I liked my colleagues, but when I left only two out of six faculty members wished me well, and I didn't hear a word from the administration (sure felt like a silent treatment). If you are not tenured, you put your odds of getting tenured at risk. If you are tenured, you have less to worry about, but an awkward work environment is well, not good for one's mental health, especially long term. Lastly, since it is not common to disclose these things, if you do they might wonder why. Like is so and so this unhappy that he/she has to shove it in all of our faces that he/she is trying to leave? Sure, you may be leaving for great reasons, but that doesn't always matter, especially when you think of the higher-up administrators.

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