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Should I teach? If yes, any advice?


inprogress

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Hello, all, 

I apologize in advance for my lengthy post. 

I graduated with a Master of Arts in Theological Studies (a broad, non-thesis degree awarded after completing 36 cr. of the M.Div. program) from a small, evangelical seminary earlier this month. Last week I was chatting with an acquaintance and told him that my long-term goal is to teach religion and/or theology on the college level. He then told me that the local community college is looking for an adjunct instructor to teach one section of REL 101: Survey of World Religions in the Spring 2017 semester; and that my MA would qualify me for an adjunct position. I emailed the chair of the school's humanities division earlier this week to ask about the position, and he responded favorably to my inquiry. Based on our brief correspondence thus far, I think I will almost certainly get the spot (with the possibility of teaching the same course in subsequent semesters) if I can prove myself to be competent in an interview. I'm excited about this opportunity, but I also have some reservations about it. 

First, though I really want to start teaching, I don't know if this would do more to help or to hurt my long-term goals. I am returning to seminary this fall to continue in the school's M.Div. program (I completed the MA in one year. I have two left to finish the M.Div.), so I would be a full-time student at my seminary while teaching for the for the first time at the community college down the road. I think I could shoulder the load without too much difficulty (I've always worked 20-30 hrs/wk in college and seminary), but I don't really know if this is the best thing to spend my time on at this point in my student years. After I finish my evangelical M.Div., I plan to apply to M.A./M.A.R./M.T.S. programs at top-tier div. schools and universities (with hopes of getting into a top-tier PhD program), and I'm really hoping to get good funding (shocking, I know). I still need to learn one primary-source language for my field of interest, and I do not have any modern research languages. At this point, which do you think would do more to improve my odds of acceptance/funding in a top-tier master's program -- adjunct CC teaching experience, or more language prep? I don't want to jump at an opportunity if it would actually hinder rather than help my chances at a full-time position in the long run. 

The previous paragraph basically addresses the first part of my question. Second, for those of you have taught your own course before (or are preparing to do so), what advice would you offer to someone preparing to teach a course for the first time? I have served as a "TA" of sorts for a prof in the college attached to my seminary (subbing in his Western Civ. and Ethics classes when he is off presenting at conferences), but my only other experience comes from about two years of teaching a Christian education class in my church. The humanities chair from the CC has already sent me the school's syllabus guidelines, possible textbooks, learning objectives for the course, so it's not as though I'm designing my own course from scratch, but I still don't really know where to begin. Do you have any suggestions for preparing, or perhaps a hard-learned lesson from your own experience? 

I'm going to give the prospect some thought and get feedback from different sources before I decide to go ahead with an interview. Thank you all for any help you can offer! 

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@inprogress Well, for one, I taught undergraduate while working on my M.Div and it totally helped my PhD applications, it was also really good experience and gave me a much better idea of how I like to manage a classroom - and I think that one class a semester isn't too heavy of a load for that. As such, I would say to go for it. It looks good on your resume, it builds experience, it contributes to your teaching portfolio, etc. In my opinion, of which ymmv, is that languages can wait and/or are always a work in progress. Many funded PhD programs expect you to come in with one language that is testable, and then pass the second language before your comps. It's also possible that since you're teaching, you can get a discount on summer language courses at your CC. Also, you could teach one semester, and if it's not working out with your study needs, then drop it. 

Your plan of doing a local M.Div then a better ThM (or similar) and then PhD is a good route, and indeed, the one that I took and I'm now in a fully-funded program. If you hunt, you can find funded ThM programs.  On that note, I don't think that you want an Mdiv and an MTS - most folk see the MTS as an Mdiv that's lacking the pastoral work. 

I don't have time to do a long write up on my teaching experience at this point, but I have taught World Religions at two different institutions, so if you want to PM me with any specific questions, I can try to get back to you sooner than later.

Either way, good job!

Edited by drivingthoughts
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