I did it! I survived my first year as an assistant professor. Clearly, there wasn't much extra time in my life, given how few blogs I've been able to post. I won't lie, it's been hard, really hard, but I've loved almost every minute of it. Like any teacher, it's challenging to figure out how to balance all aspects of the job and it's difficult to learn what to prioritize and when. I find myself consistently torn between my responsibilities to students and the expectations for research and grants as a professor. It was a successful year, but this struggle between working with students and doing research has been overwhelming. I found myself often letting the research go so I could focus on my courses and students in the classroom or just working on papers and projects that weren't my own, that had someone else driving the research. Until the summer months came, I had very little energy for the research. And now that it is the summer, I still find I am overwhelmed with the struggle between doing professional development for teachers and working on all the research I need to do this summer. I'm praying that I will learn how to juggle everything as I grow in this profession.
As with all things, I try to discern what I can learn from the experience and what may help others. So here's my, "Top Ten Things I Learned as a First Year Assistant Professor":
It's hard, really hard. I think it is just as hard as your first year of teaching, if not harder. You know how to teach, but you have to learn so many other new things, I'm not sure knowing how to teach makes it any easier.
Plan to have some impostor syndrome symptoms. If you don't know what this is, take some time to learn - it helps to know you're not the only one.
Forget dedicated writing time. In your first year, don't plan to do much writing or research unless you do it on weekends or breaks, or through much discipline.
Find mentors. The school may assign you a mentor, but this may or may not be the right person for you, so find your own. Find a teaching mentor, a grant mentor, a research mentor, and a department/school politics mentor. These are usually not the same person!
Plan on going to A LOT of meetings. A lot of meetings are required, and while you may have meeting fatigue be aware of workshops and seminars the school offers that might be of benefit. At the same time, don't feel like you have to attend everything. If it's not beneficial, don't go.
Make the time to make your office feel like home. You are going to be there often and it should be a space that relaxes you and if at all possible refreshes you. It should be a room that you don't mind walking into and where you enjoy working.
Find other outlets. Take time to find outlets for social interaction outside of school, especially if you moved to take your position. Start finding ways to integrate yourself into the community.
Get to know your office staff. Knowing these individuals can be life saving when you don't know what to do, where to find something, or need help getting copies made because you planned your lesson at the last minute.
Find ways to interact with students outside of class. Make time to get to know the student body and interact with the students outside of class. Knowing your student body makes such a difference in how you approach your teaching and your classes.
Enjoy it! It may be one of the hardest years of your career, but take time to laugh, to reflect, to truly enjoy your first year as a Professor. You did it, you got that doctorate, you graduated, you got the job, take time to relish your new position!