One Last Piece of Advice for New Assistant Professors

Hey Rookie! The semester begins soon, and you have done what you could to prepare.

Signed your contract and reams of paperwork.
Got your new ID card and faculty (!) library privileges.
Went to orientation and ethics training.
Ordered books.
Set up your electronic course management system.
Bought gobs of back-to-school supplies.
Copied your syllabi.
Read all of the advice, old and new.
Ironed your clothes.
Packed your lunch.
Listened to your favorite motivational speaker.
Queued up your walk-out music.

Here’s one last piece of advice: Do you.

Sage on the stage or guide on the side?
Extra credit or no mercy?
Happy hour with colleagues or straight home?
Blog or social media blackout?
Be brave or be careful?
Say “no” to anything or “yes” to everything?
Write x minutes per day or y pages per day?
First name or formal?
Suit or chinos?
Heels or flats?

You have heard a lot of conflicting suggestions. There’s no way to sort through it all and know exactly what to do.

Remember comps? At some point, you had to stop studying. Remember your dissertation? At some point, you had to stop writing. At some point, you have to just do you.

You’re no longer a teaching assistant. No one can tell YOU how to be YOU in YOUR classroom. Even advice from a colleague in your department and in your field may not work for your particular situation. You walk into the class as only you can with your body, your experiences, and your personality. Only you have your unique slant on the material that you’re teaching.

The old folks used to say, “You can’t sing my song or pray my prayer.” You can’t teach my class either.

You’ve got this.
Get some sleep.
Big day comin’ up.
Do you.