I may not actually write every day, because I know myself. But this is part of my initiative to write every day from today until April 21. In order to accomplish this, I give myself permission to write short and sweet. I give myself permission to go slightly off topic, even totally off topic as long as I rein myself back in at some point. So here goes.
What I like about being an adjunct: The time it gives me to pursue my own projects. At this point, I feel like – though I may be kidding myself, I’ll admit that – I’ve been teaching long enough that it doesn’t even affect the quality I give my students. Because when I don’t have time to put together a nice, sharp lecture, I give them hands-on activities that fortify their learning in a different way. I can usually whip up an activity in 15 – 20 minutes. (Lectures – even a 12-minute lecture – can take two or more hours to prepare, and at least a day if you really want to do it well.)
I end up teaching a lot of the same material again and again. And those penciled notes on my paper notepad that I keep telling myself I’ll type out one day, reveal the rushed professor of my past. They’re good notes, but in some places chaotic, not completely organized. I’m sure I knew what I wanted to say at the time when I wrote them, but it’s hard to be so sure when I look at them now. Why did I put that line there? What does this chart mean? I don’t remember.
I do need to post an important announcement. I need to grade some stuff, but it can wait till tomorrow. The rest of the day, I can spend working on a project that has nothing to do with adjuncting. So far, the projects I’m going after aren’t paying. In both instances, I’m starting my own business, and working on my creative writing, I am getting somewhere. There’s reason to hope they’ll amount to something more.
Ideally, I want to teach a class as side work – you know, like what most of the administrators and so-called leadership in higher education say an adjunct is supposed to be (out of the sides of their mouths, of course. I know they know better.).
Anyhoo… a few months ago I told adjuncts to stop working so hard. I said that we should pay attention to our hours, work only what they pay us/credit us for. Heck, you could work for fewer hours than they credit you for and get away with it. The quality control at some schools is practically non-existent. Why wouldn’t it be? When you staff your classes with the fast-food labor of higher ed, you get fast-food education. Who cares as long as it looks like you can eat it?
So you might as well take what they pay you per class, decide what you want to make in an hour, and that’s how many hours you put in? They may be trying to screw you, but you don’t have to let them. Let’s take an adjunct makes 1,900 to teach a 3 credit-hour 16-week class, and decides that they want to make $50 an hour – that’s more than fair for highly trained, highly degreed professional to ask . So that means they work only 3 hours a week to teach that class, which means absolutely no grading, no prep, no nothing except going to class and hanging out with the students. There’s a way to do this, but it’s unlikely to turn out well. With this pay, they could spend 3 hours a week prepping and grading, and still make 20 an hour. That’s not so bad. It’s just important that they are careful not to spend enough time on the job to be earning fast-food wages. (Frankly, the hardest-working adjuncts earn fast-food wages, and the less-experienced teachers have little choice.) *
So that was a tangent… rein it back in. Back in September, I said that for adjuncts to ride on the healthy relationship wheel, they needed to cut back on hours they spend on their adjunct jobs and “get busy with other things.” That’s what I’ve been doing, and I’ll do my best to share that journey with you. I look forward to the day that I can say that these other things I’m getting busy with have given me a real income and made it possible for me to take on adjuncting as side work, the way it was meant to be.
Over and out, onward and upward,
The Essential Adjunct
…because adjuncts are essential
*If anyone corrects my math, I’ll be overjoyed by the fact that I actually have readers.