Monday, April 2, 2012

Flash Something XII—Not really a flash at all

Lee Bessette has called for today to be the Day for Higher Ed and asked for academics "to actually record, in minutia, what we do as professors from the moment we wake up to the minute we fall asleep. All the work we do that contributes to our job as educators."

So, here goes: I am an adjunct professor, teaching part time at three different schools—I teach different courses at each school and have approximately 20 students in each of my four classes. I have no benefits, no paid vacations, no paid sick days, no certainty that I will be rehired at any of these schools next semester.

6:15 a.m.: Wake up. On Mondays, I teach only one class at 8:30 a.m. While I drink my first cup of coffee I check the bag I've dedicated to this school (I teach at three so let's call this School #1) to make sure I have everything I'll need packed and ready to go. That means I do an inventory of whiteboard pens, extra assignment sheets (all of them, from the beginning of the semester), the portfolio a student from two semesters ago has asked me to return to her. I have no office at this school so I have to store student portfolios (a semester's worth of work) in my home office for a full year because that's policy.

6:30 a.m.: Second cup of coffee. Log on to email for School #1—it's a contractual requirement that I check this email at least once a day but I always check it three times a day because when students send emails they usually need a timely response—no new emails. Log on to email for School #2; there are eight new emails from students since I logged on last night before bed. Answer the questions, one student can't find a book he needs for his big project so I agree to lend him my copy (which I agree to drop of later in the day) and, since I'm delivering that book, arrange to meet with students later in the day (though I don't have office hours on days when I don't teach at School #2). Check email for School #3; no new emails from students but some administrative tasks to handle. Look for book and realize that I loaned my copy to a friend; log on to School #2 bookstore site to see if they have book in stock.

7:35 a.m.: Shower, dress, grab a bottle of water and my class bag, drive to School #1.

8:05 a.m.: Unlock classroom door, boot up computer and write notes on white board to supplement projected notes on the day's lesson. Because I have no office here, I try to get to class early enough to meet with students; few of them email to arrange for this so I simply make myself available.

8:30 a.m.: Lots of questions about the projects that are due next week. Because only two students have read assignment I alter teaching plan for the day—while they read the shortest of the stories assigned and journal their responses, I return previous assignments. There are 24 students enrolled in this class; I spent approximately six hours responding to the assignments I am returning now. I spent an additional two-three hours preparing my lesson plan.

10:15 a.m.: Some after-class discussions with students (always awkward since there is no privacy) and a visit from a former student who wants to advice about where to transfer. We walk and talk so I can put the portfolio from two semesters ago on a shelf in faculty services (where its rightful owner can retrieve it), then walk and talk some more.

10:30 a.m.: Drive to the appointment I made for 11 thinking I'd have time to pick up a smoothie or something en route—the drive takes 25 minutes so no smoothie for me. Get a text asking if I can meet with a colleague at School #2; feel lucky to be able to say I can meet because our schedules do not overlap and it has been months since we talked.

1 p.m.: Go to bookstore to pick up book, pick up lunch which I hope to be able to eat in the office I share with two other adjuncts at School #2 before the first student I'm meeting with arrives for our meeting at 1:15. Drop book in my mailbox with a note for student. Back in office, log on to email—there are six new emails from students that I answer while I eat. Print out submissions for writing contest I'm helping judge.

1:45: Student never showed. I meet with colleague.

3:00: Back in office; have email from 1:15-meeting student apologizing for forgetting our meeting and asking if we can reschedule for 1:45. The email is time-stamped 2:30. Answer four more emails from students.

4:00: Pack up writing contest submissions, drive home. Check emails for Schools #1 and 3. Check bag dedicated to School #2 to make sure I have all the papers I've graded/commented on, handouts, and other necessary materials for classes tomorrow.

5:00: Read book that is assigned for class at School #3, make notes for lesson plan.

6:00: Realize I have made no plans for dinner. Family decides diner is best option.

8:15: Back from dinner, log on to School #2 email, answer two new student emails. Log on to School #1 email, answer one student email; log on to School #3 email, answer one student email.

8:30: Realize I have not written anything today. Read Sonya Huber's terrific blog about her day of Higher Ed and figure this is as good a thing to write about as any.

10:00: Begin writing this blog entry.

11:30: Finish writing this blog entry.

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