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Christiane Gannon, 2012, English

In 2012, during my fifth year in the PhD program I was offered a Visiting Assistant Professorship at Hamilton College. I went on the academic job market for three years in total: one year while I was at Hopkins, and two years after I had finished, while working at Hamilton. I very much enjoyed working at a small liberal arts college and wanted to continue at a teaching-focused institution. Though I got great interviews every time I went on the market, none of them were at teaching-centered institutions, and in three years searching I still had no permanent job offer. When I was at Hamilton, I also met people who had been on the academic market for 5-10 years, and this helped me determine I didn’t want the instability and the itinerant life of the academic who is constantly moving around while searching for a job. 

During my third year of searching, I decided to apply also to independent schools and was offered a job at the National Cathedral School, where I worked from 2014-2020. Private school teaching at this type of institution is very similar to teaching at a liberal arts college. I was able to design curriculum, teach in the areas of my specialization, and teach small seminar courses on topics of interest to me. None of my classes had more than 14 students in them. I designed and taught several courses, such as one on the bildungsroman called “The Coming of Age Novel,” featuring books like A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, E. M. Forster’s Maurice, and Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, all the types of texts I wanted to be teaching in the first place when I set out initially to be a professor. I also taught a British Literature survey as part of the sophomore English curriculum, as well as an elective on postcolonial feminist literature. Our students learned how to write with literary criticism and theory in our classes, so every day I put into practice what I learned in graduate school (both in terms of content and pedagogy). The content of my PhD was continually relevant to the courses I taught, and my teaching at Hopkins in the Expository Writing Program gave me a huge advantage in knowing how to teach writing, which is very important at the high-school level. I also very much enjoyed the teaching I did at NCS because I was part of a community where my task was not only to help shape my students as writers and scholars, but also as people.

In August 2020, I shifted into educational development and began working as an Instructional Coach at the Catholic University Center for Teaching Excellence, where I work with faculty on pedagogy and professional development. I am now the Assistant Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence where I work collaboratively on a wider institutional scale to help faculty and students succeed. While I loved my years in the classroom with students, I also really love the work I do now of making good teaching possible.

Though I haven’t followed the traditional tenure-track route, I have also kept publishing. I published three chapters from my dissertation as articles, and now also write essays for wider audiences. The non-traditional academic route has allowed me to have a stable and fulfilling life outside of work, and to pursue a unique path in the field of education. I’ve also gained a lot of experience at several different types of institutions, which has allowed me to cultivate a broader knowledge of the field of education than I would have if I’d worked in just one institution for my entire career so far.