Last semester, I was teaching public speaking, and I started to notice how many of my students really weren’t interested in learning anything, but in just getting through the course. I’ve been noticing this a lot in my courses, although this is not new to me, as I distinctly remember mentioning this phenomenon a decade ago when I was teaching political science in a community college and remembered one of my students honestly asking me during a lecture: “Do we need to know this?”
Every semester, I seem to get one or two of those overly inquisitive souls in my classes that sort of makes things all seem worth it. That’s the student that reminds you of why you teach in the first place, because you realize that they want to learn, and you’re just the person to help them do just that. This last semester was no different as I had a few students who were scared to death of speaking in front of audiences, and I was able to teach them that there was absolutely nothing to fear, and they thrived as a result.
However, I also started to notice that as an adjunct professor, I’m constantly being treated differently than the full time professors. We obviously don’t get paid as well. Our jobs are often reliant on good student evaluations, which means being beholden to the whims of students who don’t want too much work. My office is shared with more people than I can count (and I can probably teach mathematics if I wanted to). And this last semester, they concluded a new contract that includes all sorts of “compromises” that adjuncts now have to acquiesce to in order to get that rock star pay we’ve been getting for so many years. You know stuff like more faculty evaluations, more hoops to jump through and a desire of the administration to add more administrative functions to the non-full time faculty.
So, this summer, I opted out of not teaching a summer class (which wasn’t that big of a deal considering that I’m 1 for 4 in attempts to actually get a class during the summer. But I’ve been asking for at least two classes every semester, which might help me survive on the measly wages they pay, but for some reason they can only ever give me one class a semester.
This leaves me thinking that I might not return to teaching when summer is over. Sure, I can use the fraction of money it pays, but I’m starting to wonder if it’s possible for my writing income to finally supplant this income I was receiving from teaching. So, for the first time ever, I’m probably going to stop teaching college courses.
For years now, I’ve been trying to land a full time community college teaching job, but it’s just never happened for me. Instead, everyone keeps offering me no benefit adjunct jobs. I guess they feel that there are so many of us out there that they don’t have to offer real jobs to any of us.
So, I’m going to take myself out of the pool. While I’d love a full time teaching job, I’ve practically surrendered myself to the realization that it’s probably never going to happen. And while I’m not 100 percent sure this is the direction I’m going to be taking, I’ve seen enough income rise through my writing that it just might be possible to do. I’m tired of being treated like a second class citizen in the academic community.