professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Job Seeking

I know that I have a fabulous job. I get to teach children's and YA literature. I get to review books for various publications. I have been elected and appointed to committees. I have served my professional organizations in various capacities. But the thing that makes folks most often say, "I wish I had your job," is that they see the books that pass through my hands. I hear it over and over again and see it posted to my social media feeds. I totally understand that. So, I thought I would take the opportunity on this blog to talk about the requirements for my job. I will be retiring sooner rather than later. I have been teaching at SHSU for 26+ years now, and the time is coming for someone new to take over my job. Here, then, are the requirements:

1. an earned doctorate. That took me some time, I will admit. I spent about 4 years working on the 60+ hours and writing the dissertation that resulted in the terminal degree (and terminal is a great label for a degree that drains you as you are working on it). 60 hours, a study involving 1200+ students in middle school, and the writing of it all. I did all this while teaching middle school full time except for the final year when I taught courses at two different universities to free up some time to concentrate on the Big D. My friends and family encouraged (pushed and prodded, too) and supported me the whole time.

2. a record of scholarship and publication in the field. Before I applied for the job I have, I presented at local, state, national, and international conferences. And I published a few pieces in journals as well. Writing is the coin of the realm is what my advisor, Dr. Abrahamsson, told me time and again. He was right. I am grateful that he told me to start writing down all the stuff I was saying in presentations to see what might work in an article. That advice is still golden.

3. experience teaching in the public schools: 15 years for me, not a long tenure, but they were rewarding and educational. For anyone seeking my job down the road, you will also need experience as a school librarian. Sadly, that is something I never did. I never even thought it was a possibility since I worked with the best librarian in the world, Rosemary Smith. But the new person has to bring that background to our faculty as we educate folks who want to become school librarians.

And after I won the position, there were more requirements: sustained scholarship, publication, and service. Plus, good reviews of my teaching. In 25 years, I have written 3 books, authored a dozen chapters, edited a couple of books, written columns (Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy YA review column for 5 years, Voices from the Middle review column for 5 years) and articles (in more than 25 different journals). Presentations, too. Office in professional organizations as well. The "sustained" part means that scholarship and teaching and service are expected to be part of everything I do each year. When I read about folks critical of tenure because once someone has it, she ceases to be productive, I shake my head. I still must meet the same level of expectations as new faculty. And did I mention there is post-tenure review?

But even without the annual reviews, I cannot imagine NOT doing the writing, the reading, the speaking, the serving, the mentoring, etc. Not only is it a part of my job, it is a part of me. I review and blog and speak because I want to share my passion with others. I want to share the research, the pedagogy, the richness of my field.

This seems too self-serving to me, but I want to make it clear to anyone who wants this job--it comes with some strings attached. If you are willing to do the work, the reward is amazing. If you are willing to put in the time and effort, you will be, as I am, overwhelmed by the blessings that come with this job.

One final note: people ask why I am fortunate enough to get books sent to me. Publishers are incredibly generous, I know. They send some books to me knowing that I will often talk about books to audiences as I present at conferences and seminars and workshops. Last week in Boothbay, I spoke about 50-60 books. Next week at Nerd Camp, I will talk about even more. Future conference presentations will include lots and lots of books. Most of you know I also post books to social media as well. It is a wonderful situation--having to open boxes, sort through books, and talk to others about my own reading.

And almost all of these books pass from my hands into the hands of others. My books float on. I gave away several hundred in June. I have a box packed to ship to a charity later this month and another stack beginning to grow for another giveaway.

I am fortunate, no doubt. But there is also no doubt that I work hard for books and reading. It is terrific that my passion and my mission are one and the same. So, if you want my job, start preparing that vita. You have some time to get ready to step into my shoes. And I will help you in any way I can. You see, the other thing that makes me one of the luckiest people in the world is that I get to work with the BEST faculty members. The intelligent and warm and wonderful women in my department make faculty meetings something I anticipate attending with a huge grin. There is not a meeting that does not erupt, at some point, in laughter. And did I mention there is cake?
Tags: job requirements
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