Saving the World: One Wasted Conversation at a Time

Currently, I’m sitting in the adjunct office trying to finish up comments on papers, grades, and mentally prepare for a day of presentations. The office is busier than usual because there is a potluck in the office. Generally, I think most of the adjuncts on this campus are pretty cool. I have no beef with any of the faculty; they have been nothing but nice to me. No complaints. Really.

I do, however, hate (okay–dislike) being around them. Most of them bitch about their students. Shamefully, I will admit I participate sometimes. Oftentimes, however, they have theoretical and sociological discussions about humanity, education, politics, religion, and God knows what else.

They sit in the office trying to solve the world’s problems.

God bless them for not having any effing papers to grade.

Witnessing this on occasion, once again, leads me to question my existence and purpose in this life; why am I teacher?  I too have very strong political views. In fact, just this morning my mother and I had an in-depth political chat discussing what the impact on the planet would be if the government does decide to release photos of Osama Bin Laden. We also discussed our surprise at how much information about the operation has been released to the general public. The thing is, I keep these thoughts to myself. The only time I share my political beliefs is in my writing (and generally it’s implied, not flat-out stated), when a little hammered on wine with my best friend who lives way too far away, and at Sunday dinners or family dinners because I live to see my father enraged and shocked. I love to see his face when I share my political or ideological beliefs. I’m sure he goes to sleep wondering how it is possible that I am made from 50% of his DNA.

Of course, teachers talking politics is nothing new. I think what bothers me is how freely they discuss their ideas. I don’t know if it’s my immigrant upbringing, or possibly the heavy influence World War II played on how my parents raised us, or if it is my having read 1984 entirely too many times, but discussing beliefs so openly makes me very uncomfortable.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to discuss controversial issues. In fact, in all of writing classes I live to watch my students dook it out. As a teacher, however, I am forced to remain neutral. Maybe what scares me about the discussions I overhear my colleagues having is that they discuss their students and their political beliefs. They are clearly judging their students and what they believe. They are not being neutral in their classrooms. It also seems they are forgetting what it’s like to be a nineteen year old. Most teenagers (and young college students) often share the same (often Conservative) beliefs their parents spout off at the dinner table. It isn’t until these young adults realize their parents are not infallible, that they can finally determine and understand their own ideologies. So why are these teachers judging them?

Shouldn’t they be trying to open up their minds with questioning and information?

Also, don’t my colleagues have to get ready for the end of the semester? Do they not have papers to grade?


Settling is for Losers: Trying to Not be Loser

I received my last paycheck until July on Friday. Being on a once monthly pay period is super stressful. I’m grateful that I got back some decent money from my tax return, but still, it’s not enough to keep me afloat for two months. Not even close. So, the past couple weeks I’ve been applying for jobs.

At first, I was applying for stupid jobs. I was on Craigslist looking for receptionist jobs just to get me through the summer. Most of those jobs turned out to be scams. By most, I mean all but one.  One of the emails I received was a nasty email where the “employer” said I could never work for him unless I gave him my full address.

No thanks psycho-killer, my limbs are just fine attached to my body and not buried in your backyard.

After a few weeks of that crap, I decided I needed to not settle for some crap job just to survive the summer. This is my chance to get out there. I can’t just wait around for some college to hire me for the fall. What if that doesn’t happen? Why let all my education go to waste? I have Masters degree, and I’m applying to be a receptionist. That is just dumb. So very very dumb (said like guy on the famous Youtube Video). I need a job.

A real job.

A job with benefits, and a retirement plan. A job that will make me look good to the bank when FH and I decide to buy a house.

The more I thought about it, the more confident I was that this was the right decision. Instead of trying to desperately to work in education, I need to branch out and try breaking into a new field where having a Masters, or even Bachelor’s in English is okay; a job where I don’t need publications and GD book deal.

So, I’ve been applying for entry-level copyediting and copy editing jobs.

Yeah, it doesn’t pay great. But it doesn’t pay monthly, and I can leave the work at my office. Even if my office is a cubicle.

This whole year I’ve been just hell-bent on trying to be an educator and now that summer is here I realize that maybe I shouldn’t just settle for some crappy summer job. I need to be a grown up. Not to mention, not everyone gets to being a tenure track professor that same way. Maybe I need to try the corporate world, copy-edit some ads. Who knows?

I was told, by a professor from my alma mater, that being an adjunct for too long can actually hurt your chances at becoming a tenured professor. That employers look at you different when you work at the bottom of the totem pole for too long.

There is this fear brewing inside me that if I don’t get out of adjuncting soon, I’m going to be stuck there. I won’t be able to work in any field–except as the scum of the English department. Yeah, I worked way to hard for that.

Also, there is something exciting about trying to break into a new field. Have you ever trying to break into a new field? Did it work out? Or was as heartbreaking as I have a feeling it is going to be?

I was on the phone with my mother the other day, and she is very upset by my unemployment situation.

She always says the same thing:

“All those years of education…it’s a shame really.”

Then she goes into the: you should have been a nurse; there are always jobs in the medical field; you should have gotten an MBA; maybe you should get a Ph.D in education and become a principal; it wouldn’t be so bad if you’d gone to public school for your undergrad degree; oh my God all your student loan debt; what are you going to do when you get married?

You know she really calms me down and puts me at ease.

But she is right about one thing, it would be a shame to waste a perfectly good Masters degree and be a receptionist.So, I’m going to see what happens with all these job applications.

As always, I’m super hopeful and feel good about it.

Just like I did with those professor job applications.

We all see how that has turned out.

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.