Graduate Theological Union

Debra Mumford on Preparing for the Classroom (and Everything Else)

Debra Mumford (Ph.D. '05) lauds her experience at the GTU for preparing her extensively for the classroom, but then discovered everything else that comes with being a professor.

My biggest challenge as one fresh out of Ph.D. school is that I was not trained to do most of the things I now have to do as a professor. My alma mater did a wonderful job preparing me to teach, research and write. They prepared me to teach by requiring me to take relevant courses, read all relevant materials, and pass comprehensive exams. I was mandated to develop syllabi, work as a TA at least one semester and provided an opportunity to develop and teach my own course.  They prepared me to research and write by requiring me to take a course in research and writing, write a ton of research papers (including the dissertation) and providing excellent feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of my work. So when I graduated, I thought I was ready. But I wasn’t.

Nobody told me that teaching, researching, and writing are only a fraction of what a professor is called to do. Nobody told me I would spend so much of my time in committee meetings, experiencing and discovering institutional politics, advising students, attending faculty meetings, making public presentations, actively participating in academic guilds and struggling to find time to do much of what I was trained to do – research and write. How on earth was I supposed to serve in all these capacities and do what I was actually trained to do?

Read the original post, "Using Time," at Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda, Wabash Center Blogs

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