Month: October 2010

Never Ending Stack of Papers

My girlfriend and I are going to be exchanging our writing at the end of next week and I haven’t had a minute to write a word because of all the paper grading. It’s mildly depressing to think that the only thing that will get me a professor job is publications and while I’m adjuncting I only have time to grade papers. It is the most vicious circle.

I’m getting a new stack on Monday–booooo.

I have even considered skipping my work outs to give myself an extra hour of grading. This morning, however, I woke up with my first panic attack in four years and am glad that I didn’t give up exercise. I’ve been struggling to catch my breath all morning.

The job application burden is also making it very difficult to breathe. Perhaps I need to pull an all nighter and get this shit done so I can stop worrying. Once the paper grading and job applications are out I’ll be able to breathe. I can definitely see an all nighter my future. Well, maybe not an all nighter maybe a stay up until 1ish and not have dinner with the boyfriend.

Blah.

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To Be Graded

Below you see one of my to do’s for the weekend. The other is to have all my job applications ready to be sent out by Monday. Oh, I also need a brilliant Halloween costume idea. I wanted to be a Grammar Nazi but realize that is mildly inappropriate. It’s a shame we have to politically correct all the time. Lame.

Did I mention I’m heading to the Jon Stewart Rally? I’m leaving Friday. I can’t wait. I haven’t left town in a while, and D.C. will be a nice change of pace.

I wish this was a joke, but I seriously need to all of these by Monday because I’m getting a stack of them on Monday.

How ridiculous is this? I don’t know about you, but sometimes it seems never-ending. This semester has been particularly rough with trying to get it all done. Not enough hours in a day.

 
 
 
I know this is terrible and trite, but I am deeply concerned about what I’m going to for Halloween. Wasn’t I supposed to grow out this costume dress up phase around 12? Oh well. As always ideas welcome.
 
Back to the endless stack of papers.

The Adjunct Office or Should I Say Bitch Central?

Most schools provide their part-time faculty with a space to grade papers and check their emails. It’s not the most beautiful space–both of the schools that work at have offices for their adjuncts and both are located in the basement, in a corner where air circulation is something to be desired. Nevertheless, it’s better than no space and relegating part-time staff to the library for computer access.

I look forward to one day having an office that smells of old books and is decorated with cheesy English teacher posters. And while I pine for  this office, I’m still grateful to have a space I can sort of call my own. My issue however is not with the space. My issue is with the people who use the space.

A bunch of complainers they are. Oh my goodness. I get it, we all need to vent, but lord have mercy. This past semester I have learned about how lazy, undisciplined, and horrible the students are at the college. Bunch of no good….blah blah blah. All semester I have heard other instructors–some of them about 40 years older than me–talk about how in their day students were disciplined. Kids were better then. Teaching was a pleasure. Oh, shut it.

While I don’t deny that students, teaching, and, parents has evolved–or maybe regressed over the past few years, the student bashing is too much for me. I will not disagree that there are some real pains in the ass out there, many of them in my classroom. But overall, I don’t have horrible students. Of course this varies by semester, but I’ve had groups that were worse, and I anticipate that I will have better.

It seems that many of these instructors have lost touch with their students and perhaps that is in part because of their age, but I do think that mostly it’s because instead of trying to reach their students they bitch about them. How many of you have had instructors who were old–but hip? They are out there, and frankly those older hip professors often kick serious ass.

There are days when I get caught up in the complaining–I admit. On those days, I get upset with myself for being negative and complaining. It happens, I’m human. When I do complain, I do notice, that it makes the grading more difficult, and the work experience not so pleasant. I love to teach writing–I love it wholeheartedly.  That’s what I think is part of the problem. These complaining teachers have forgotten why they teach.

The crotchety, complaining, cranky professors (alliteration was totally intentional) are the worst. While I sit in the office and hear the complaining, I want to desperately shout–Enough! I do what my students do when they don’t want to listen, I pop in my headphones and pump up the volume on my iPod. Maybe I’m just as bad as to my colleagues as my students, but frankly I don’t care. Instead of complaining, I try to reach them and encourage them to be the best students possible, because in the end that’s all I can do. And I’m okay with that.

Midterm Blues

It’s that time in the semester when everything feels crazy. The semester started off rough and I feel as if I’ll never get catch up. I’m drowning in papers to grade, and job applications. Oh and did I mention I have to move. Yeah move in the middle of the school year. I’m still not in the “yeah it’s happening” mode. In fact, I’m still reeling that I’m being asked to pay an even higher rent when tomatoes cost $3.99 a lbs. $3.99! I haven’t worked out in two days because of a killer migraine and I’m confident the migraine is being caused by the never-ending stack of papers and lack of exercise. Damn you cycles! 

I don’t know about any of you, but I’m planning on attending Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity. I looked at the date today and realized it was only 11 days away. While I’m super excited I keep thinking that I need to have a lot of stuff done by the time I leave because I don’t want to come back on Sunday and feel the urge to crawl beneath the Earth’s surface.

Today I noticed my students are starting to feel the pressure of the midterm. I addressed three sections of glossy-eyed, apathetic students today, and two other sections of the same yesterday. Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here soon.

Soon…

Why Adjuncts Struggle to Break Free

I’ve been part-time teaching at two schools this semester and have been trying to figure out why my grad school professors warned us not be adjuncts. Well, today as I started grading a stack of papers that has recently dwindled from 110 to 90 papers, I now understand my professors’ advice.

In order to live comfortably as an adjunct you must teach at least four to five sections. These sections usually include at least 20 students which means come paper time you’ve got at least 100 papers to grade and comment on. While you’re grading papers and teaching 5 sections, full-time professors are teaching 3 sections, not worrying about money, and working on publications. That’s right, they are writing and focused on their careers, while the only writing you’re doing is the writing on student papers.

Recently a girlfriend of mine, who also has her MFA and was an adjunct for a while and is now a full-time instructor, called me. We spoke at length about focusing on our writing versus our students. She and I are tired of being super teacher. Being super teachers is not going to get us a tenure track jobs. This has always been my goal, and has recently become hers as well.

So, what have we decided to do to brighten our futures? The fifth of every month we will be emailing each other our writing. I’m working on perfecting my novel by adding some sections and lengthening the sections I have, and she wants to pump out some short stories. We attempted to establish some kind of consequence for not doing the writing, but decided that we weren’t afraid of each other so we established a reward instead. When we send each other our work, we will also send each other a $10 gift card to Barnes and Noble.

Our first exchange will occur on the 5th of November, and I’m eager to have a deadline and someone I trust to give me feedback. I’m hoping that this exchange will enable us both to see our work published and lead us towards being tenured professors.

In the end, what it all boils down to is worrying about yourself. In this competitive society, it is necessary to focus on you. It sounds narcissistic and selfish but I don’t really care, I’m in it to win it and if you’re an adjunct who is a super teacher, you should consider focusing on yourself even if it is brief. We must stop feeling guilty if we don’t our students their papers back immediately. Those things can wait–your career can’t.

Are there any super-teachers out there that agree with me? What about those of you who don’t? Why not focus on my own writing versus the writing of my students? Am I horrible person for thinking this way?