I’m sort of nervous about this post. Let’s see how it goes.
It’s incredibly difficult to gauge how much work to assign students and how much work to give yourself. I think you have to be in a place for at least a year or more to get it right.
Here are some things you can do to avoid mid-semester meltdowns.
Ask to see a sampling of syllabi of the classes you teach; how much work do others generally assign? If they’ve been there for awhile, they probably know what works.
Are you teaching on quarters or semesters? Are the courses 4 credits or 3 credits?
Ask how many classes students generally take a semester. If they take four a term, your course will probably need to be a little more rigorous than if they take five or six a term.
Are they on the quarter or semester system? How many students will be in your classes?