I am new to this Forum and find it very useful. I have recently joined a UK university as a postdoc. I really like my project and my role but I am concerned about not gaining any teaching experience for the next few years since my post is 100% research. Would short-term (e.g. summer) teaching posts a possibility and a good option for someone in my position?
Can postdocs have multiple temporary jobs? Are there any better options I could consider?
Thank you very much in advance for any suggestions you will share!
Congrats on the post-doc role!
Though I think your problem depends a lot on your field. In engineering post-docs are not supposed to do any teaching except maybe supervising final year students/ masters students. My department just hired someone as a lecturer with zero teaching experience, including during her PhD, entirely based of her research record. It might be different in other fields but I would like at the most recent hires in your department to see how much teaching experience you actually need. Otherwise I would focus on research as much as possible.
Thank you for your reply. A colleague of mine, who is in a similar position, has a 50-50 teaching and research contract. When they hired me (in Computer Science), I did not realise I could negotiate this. Anyway, it would have been difficult for me because I work across disciplines so there is not be much room for me to teach in my current department. Whilst research projects are cross-disciplinary, classes are discipline-specific. The idea would be to look for very short-term flexible teaching opportunities elsewhere. At the moment, this may be relatively easy to manage because of remote teaching. I am not even sure this is allowed, though. I surely do not want to disregard my current responsibilities. I am just genuinely concerned about my very limited teaching experience.
You would need to find out who is funding your post-doc and would they be flexible. If you are working on a specific external project it might be more difficult as the PI would need to hire someone else. Although, you could simply ask the head of teaching in the department that you want to work in if there are any opportunities for part time work.
First thing I would say is to talk to your PI and create and professional development plan- what skills do you want to achieve and how do you get there? Can you ask for a mentor (Not related to your project or PI) that can help with advising on how to reach your goal etc.
After my PhD I took up a post doc (two-year post- left after year 1) in a different uni with an international PI who well knows and respected in my field. I was so excited to start work with him and soon released the post wasn't what I expected- there was no opportunity for teaching, I was given PhD students to mentor( But no acknowledgements for this on paper etc). After coming from uni with encourages PhD student to get involved in teaching labs I was so discouraged.
I recently started back as a post-doc(4-year contract ), where I did my PhD and straight away both my PI and head of the dept have asked for a personal development plan, they have even found me a mentor form a different college to talk to and help keep my goals in line and support my professional development.
My biggest goal was teaching experience, but with by contract 100% research, it would be hard. We have settled on me taking final year project next Sept. I have been put forward and accepted to begin a master in teaching and learning (Thankfully the uni is covering the cost). And come next Jan I will be given 1 lab class a week during working hours and have been an offer and teaching role in our evening course dept which is 4hours over two nights. I will be paid for the evening course but not the lab class, which doesn't bother me as it a good experience.
I would, however, check your contract for T&C, mind said no other roles unless approval is given my PI, and head of dept etc.
Thank you very much for your replies. This is very helpful! I had no idea that you could for a professional development plan and I think it would be very useful for me to have one. I also would benefit from having an external mentor, I am sure. I will discuss this with my PI shortly.
My current contract does not mention anything regarding additional jobs. If I taught for a few weeks at another uni would it be considered a conflict of interests?
I feel it is too early for me to make a decision about this but I am trying to understand what my responsibilities exactly involve and what options I could look into. I do understand that this is a full-time commitment and I would not be looking for anything longer than a month. Given the short length, I am also wondering if there any specific reasons why my PI should be aware of any unrelated teaching commitments I could have.
Thank you, again, for your reply. It is reassuring to know that you do not think this would constitute a conflict of interests. Even though I would be working for two different universities, the nature of the two jobs would be completely different for a very brief period. I would definitely not discuss my research at the other uni, as it would be completely unrelated. I am just wondering, what impression would I give my current PI if I mentioned that I have also been asked to teach for a few weeks at my old department. Would they be likely to see this positively or negatively? I have no idea but I am assuming other people are in similar positions. I still have to grasp what is considered acceptable and what is not. I surely have long-established personal and working relationships at my old uni that I would like to keep by contributing some short-term teaching. What do people usually do in these situations?
The academic world can be surprisingly small especially if the two universities are close. I would tell your supervisor so that they don't hear about through other people. What happens if the second uni lists you on their website and your supervisor finds out via a google search? If you have already talked with your supervisor about teaching and career prospects, they will probably be understanding of why you are doing it. There should be no conflict of interest but it is respectful to tell them
Thank you for the suggestion, Rewt. I thought the same. It is a small world and, regardless, it is best to be transparent and respectful. We have not already talked about this in detail, but I did mention that I miss teaching. After reading all your comments, I think I should discuss a professional development plan soon and that might be a good moment to discuss teaching opportunities, too. Let's see what they say and go from there.
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