But here's the naked facts: The overwhelming majority of academic philosophers aren't at R1's teaching grad students. For them, teaching is what pays the bills and absorbs the majority of their time. And even those at R1's must teach. Given this, you can't expect to avoid teaching entirely. I therefore subscribe to the following hypothesis: You will not have a satisfying academic career unless you enjoy teaching, and you should not consider an academic career unless you can imagine yourself enjoying teaching.
Easier said than done of course: Most anyone who is even a smidgen serious about teaching knows it's hard work. Time consuming, yes, but also intellectually more challenging than one expects. And of course, it's complicated by the fact that whether or not you succeed at it is only half dependent on your own efforts. There's those pesky students after all. And I often wonder if the aforementioned bias in favor of research over teaching, acquired in grad school, is something that graduate schools need to counteract. In other words, not only do grad schools need to educate people to be good teachers, they also need to educate them to enjoy the tasks that will almost certainly dominate the remainder of their students' professional lives.
But all is not lost even if grad schools fail on this score. For you can learn how to enjoy teaching while on the job. Here are some things that have helped me, but I'd really like to hear from others what they do to make teaching a more rewarding experience.
How to enjoy teaching
Don't be afraid to cede some control. Sometimes we need to let our students have a more prominent role in our classrooms. Let them guide discussion, develop the exam questions, or critique each others' work
Share your research. We talked about this recently, but I think sharing your research humanizes you in the eyes of your students and creates a more authentic and engaged environment for discussion.
Vary your preparations. I've learned a lot of philosophy that I wouldn't have learned otherwise because I've had to teach outside the usual intro's and courses in my specialization. This is a way to ensure that teaching helps you learn.
Find a teaching community. Find some people to talk about teaching with. Or, you know, go looking for a blog or something.
Realize you're a freak. One of the most important things I've learned about teaching is that those of us who are attracted to university-level teaching are freaks. Usually, we were very skilled as students and could probably have learned effectively from most any instructor. But most of our students find the material we teach challenging, even off putting. They need effective teaching. I try to remind myself of this so as to sustain my empathy for students and their learning situation.
Once in a while, start from scratch. It can be highly gratifying to see a course all the way from its origins in a course proposal, through the syllabus, to the end of the first time you teach it.
Watch someone else teach. Everyone in higher ed teaches, yet for the most part, we rarely see anyone else do it.
So Wakers: How do you make teaching more rewarding for yourself?