I have recently (one year ago) started work in academia as an assistant professor or a lecturer in NZ system. We don't have tenure track system which is great. I was wondering how long does it take one to get used to academia. I will clarify my question.

I really enjoy research and working with the research students. Also, I have secured a large research grant. However, I never considered teaching as a career. Having said that, I would enjoy teaching if I had an opportunity to design my own course. Currently I have to teach courses which are given to me. I found that teaching takes up lots of time and my research outcomes plummeted as I have no consistent free chunck with no interruptions. Not sure how to cope with exhaustion of having to give a lecture.

Any suggestions how to balance research and find enjoyment in teaching?

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    Welcome to Academia.SE! I have edited the title of your question to fits with the text body. Please feel free to edit again if you think that it is not quite what you would like to ask. The question "How to balance teaching workload and research" already exists here, so I focused on finding enjoyment in teaching as a research oriented person. academia.stackexchange.com/questions/143/…
    – The Doctor
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 10:18
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    Related: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/56963/…
    – The Doctor
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 10:21
  • @TheDoctor I don't think that question really addresses this one, as it is about a grad student being given instructions rather than someone ostensibly in charge or controlling their own work.
    – Jessica B
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 10:25
  • @JessicaB I though that it may be on the borderline of a duplicate, so I played safe with the title. But I agree with you, I would not vote as a duplicate.
    – The Doctor
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 10:33
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    Thanks for the comments so far. When I was a PhD student myself I juggled two things which was a full-time work and PhD. Full-time work happened in the end of my PhD program. However, both were research-oriented, rather then dealing with large number of people i.e teaching students. I found that even though hours-wise the situation currently is much better than life of a me as a PhD student, the level of stress is quite different from having to perform for students.
    – Math_manul
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 10:58

2 Answers 2


I would not worry about enjoying teaching. If I were you, I'd optimize my teaching first. You need to identify the time consuming parts and simplify them as much as possible. Use help from senior faculty as much as you can. Here is what I would advise myself if I were to teach again.

First, you need to set boundaries. You must be available for students only during office hours. You'll get many emails. Answer only the ones with special requests (e.g. make up exams for disabled people) and tell the class you'll resolve all else during office hours.

Grading is a time black hole. Do not grade homework and quizzes - use some automatic system, or offload it to your teaching assistants, they'll love you for that.

Do not make up problem sets or even exams. That takes a lot of time and it's likely you'll make mistakes which will upset your students.

You should not try to exhaust the subject in class. Even if it tempts you, you should not spend time searching for ways to make the class interesting. The objective is that your students understand the basic concepts you are trying to teach (enough to solve course problems). Any nice new experiment or class project would take a lot of time to prepare and it's only worth doing it if you have a lot of help from enthusiastic students and teaching assistants.

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    Thanks for the suggestions. Good points. I don't think I can avoid making exams and assignments as it's my responsibility. I think I do try too hard making my course being more interesting however. I had relatively low grades last year from my teaching evaluations for the entusiasm part or simalary called category and tried to do better job this year. Those evaluations are used for promotion but I also felt bad if students are not engaged and falling asleep in my class.
    – Math_manul
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 11:27
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    I also would add a comment that we don't have TAs in New Zealand. We do have tutors which explain concepts with examples on particular problem sets and also they grade assignments but they can't make them and they can't prepare assignments. For higher level course however I will have to do it myself. I should add that in principle PhD students can help with that if I had some as a chief supervisor.
    – Math_manul
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 11:32
  • @Math_manul Before writing my answer, I was looking at some basic classes taught in the Physics Department at a NZ university. They used Mastering Physics for homeworks. There might be something like that for what you're teaching. There are also lots of problem books and solution manuals. If I were you, I'd use them shamelessly, especially if I found older faculty used them, too. Also, you need to talk to older faculty because it's really hard for a first timer to properly balance and calibrate homeworks and exams. You can take their problem sets if they offer.
    – user21264
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 6:20
  • Lucky people who have TA/tutor to grade assignments/exams.. for those who don't, maybe need to make an automatic system by themselves (to cater the course's needs)?
    – kate
    Commented Sep 26, 2020 at 7:32

I have a been teaching and doing research in a Swiss university for the last 8 years.

I was having the same questions as I started and here are some advice that worked for me and that bring me a lot of pleasure in teaching.

  1. Focus on the students, on what you bring to them and how they progress with your teaching. To be a bit more concrete, you could try to remember what brought you joy when you were studying yourself and plan doing the same with you students.
  2. Focus on activities that you like doing with students and vary as much as you can : labs, interactive coding sessions, discussions on pratical cases, whatever!
  3. Integrate your research in your courses when you can. Do not focus only in the results themselves but tell them how what they are learning right now will be applied later on.

Hope this helps !

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