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Well it depends how many you have, and how you feel about lying. You might just happen to get sick the week of your interview. Family events like weddings can happen, and you can get guest speakers for your courses. Other than lying, there really isn't much you can do. I've heard some people try to technically tell the truth by saying they are giving a talk at a particular university. This seems a bad idea to me, and way to obvious and easy for them to find out. Another option is of course trying to find an interview date that doesn't conflict with your schedule for whatever reason.

This is a tough situation. And when I went on an interview, I got lucky with the dates and didn't have to lie. So good luck....I honestly don't know the right answer. But whenever you feel guilty do remember it really is a buyer's market, and job candidates have few advantages in comparison to hiring institutions.


If you have more than one interview, it makes sense to do them in the same week if possible.


A classic line from therapy: Guilt is hidden resentment.


I think something that is easy to forget as a candidate (though maybe less likely if you already have a job) is that most institutions will have some flexibility in when the interviews are held and it is OK to express a preference. [This is not true in the UK - a date is set well in advance and typically advertised with the job, but put that aside.] They will know you have a job if you made as far as a visit, so, in my view one should feel free to express a preference for a day that doesn't conflict with teaching or minimises conflict. If they cannot accommodate that, they will tell you. This strategy might be unhelpful for long trips across the country or out of the country, but for many trips this might mean only needing to cancel one meeting or maybe none at all. If I were on a search I wouldn't take this request to be an expression that one doesn't really want the job. Rather, I'd take it to be a sign that one takes their commitments to their institution seriously.

More generally, if I could get it down to one day missed, I think I'd just call in sick the afternoon before unless the class only meets 1 time a week. Then I'd ask a colleague to fill in and contact my chair and say that I have an unavoidable personal conflict and that I've found a replacement and ask if that is OK with the chair. If you have a chair that is likely to say no to that (which strikes me as very unreasonable), then I refer you back to playing sick.

Stacey Goguen

Ways to potentially not have to 'cancel class':

If you have friends in the area (in philosophy), ask them to guest lecture for the day. If you have the time/energy, prepare a short assignment for the class (responding to the lecture; connecting it to material for that unit; etc.) so that even though you're not there, there's a connection for your students and a(nother) reason for them not to skip the class.

If you don't have someone to guest lecture, you could set your students up with a movie, and similarly, prepare an assignment for them to complete as they watch it (e.g. pick two scenes from the movie and explain the connection to this unit's material.)

You could also technically cancel class that day, but set up students in pairs and have them schedule a meeting with one another student that week to peer-edit each other's papers--and again, have them produce something like a list of changes they'll make to the paper.

Or similarly, cancel class, but ask students to find a location in the area that's relevant to the course material, go there, hang out for 20 minutes, and then write a reflection. This is harder to work in for some classes, but I think it could be a weird/fun assignment for most: have them go somewhere (a store/cafe/library/park/friend's house) and investigate until they find something relevant to language/knowledge/categories/science/etc. Benefits: relatively simple to make the instructions/assignment because it's open-ended; you are now free to go do your thing; and you can even pivot this into a innovative-teaching-style talking point.

That all said, if it comes down to it, I don't see anything wrong with calling out due to sickness/family emergency/whatever. If you think about it, it sort of does qualify as an "emergency": a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action.

Stacey Goguen

One other idea: The humanities librarian at my university loves making "library day" assignments for courses where she gives students a 30-40 minute workshop on sources/information literacy/whatever, and then they have to find some source/info that's relevant for the course. So that's another potential option if you have time to coordinate with your philosophy/humanities librarian and they're willing to do that.


Here are some ideas. I've used 1, 3, and 4 while traveling for conferences or talks. It looks like Stacey already suggested 2 and 3, or versions of them.

1. Arrange to travel on a test day. Get a friend to proctor the test. Or put the test online.

2. Arrange for students to watch a movie. Get a friend to set it up and press play.

3. Schedule some activity, preferably a group task, for students to do without you during a missed class. It could be a peer editing workshop, extracting an argument from a text, raising objections and replying to them, doing a worksheet, or any number of other things. If it's a complex task, break it into steps.

4. (For small classes) Schedule individual/pair/small group feedback meetings with students instead of holding class. Schedule the meetings for when you're back in town. Make it clear that this is a substitution. "Instead of holding class next Friday, I will meet with each of you to talk about your papers."

Number Three

Echoing Stacey's comment, my college has several people who give guest lectures on various things when professors have to cancel "normal" class. They lecture on topics like the library system, consent, drinking culture, etc. You might check and see if there is such an initiative at your school, or if people at various offices might like to stand in for you.

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