Teaching as an adjunct can be a lot of fun. It is also challenging. As I have encountered a number of situations, I realize such a blog can be helpful, both to me and to others.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Asing For It

It is discouraging when you have a student that is seemingly asking for a bad grade. We are currently in the middle of informative speeches and one of the students volunteered to speak on the second day of speeches. When it came time for this individual to speak, it was quite apparent that there was little preparation. Still, the speaker got up and spoke.

Unfortunately shortly into the speech, this individual realized just how unprepared he was. In his speech, we started getting expletive after expletive. I will try and give a student a little leeway if something like this happens. It does not happen often, but sometimes the nervousness of a speaker overtakes the speaker.

Unfortunately, this speaker after using it once, started using one every other sentence. I am far from a prude, but in a professional speech, that does not cut it. In fact, even the other students in class finally asked him to clean up his language. So, unfortunately there is not much I can do. I know some of the other professor would fail him. Some of the students in my class, if they were the teacher, would fail this student. I won’t do that. I understand the frustrations of speaking, of losing your place, freezing, and just in general having things not go the way you had planned. If a student gets up in front of the class, the student will get some credit for speaking. However, while I will not fail this individual, the grade will clearly be reduced because of the language.

There is never a dull moment in class.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Overlooked Scheduling

The first time it looked like I was going to be teaching three classes in one semester, I was so careful in planning the syllabi and making everything jive. I wanted to avoid having a week where I would have to listen to students in all of my classes give speeches. It takes some time to critique them and I wanted to space them out. I successfully did that and was happy. Unfortunately, one of those three classes did not have the necessary enrollment and my efforts did not matter. I can handle students in two of the classes speaking on the same day.

The second time, the story was much the same. I got to the point where I did not really expect all three classes to go. It varied as to which class did not go, but one of them did not. So, at some point I stopped worrying about how the speeches fell.

This semester, I have three classes, all going, for the first time. This semester, I did not stop to plan out and make sure that students from all three classes were not giving speeches in the same week. It may have worked out that way, but I am not sure.

As it stands right now, I have five speeches from my MWF class that have to be critiqued. I have 11 icebreakers from my class of high school seniors that have to be critiqued. There were supposed to be 14, but three students were absent. And, I have one speech from my other Tuesday-Thursday class that has to be critiqued- a makeup icebreaker. So, while this was not the fault of the syllabus, last week was a week where I heard speeches from students in each of my classes and have to critique them. I hope that does not happen again.

I take a little bit of comfort in the fact that there is an hour break between my two Tuesday-Thursday classes, so if need be, I can use that time for critiquing the icebreakers of the high-schoolers. I would rather use that time for something else, but if I need it, it is there.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It's Starting Already

It is amazing how things already take shape. We have started the first graded speech of the semester. I tell students if they miss a speech I deduct five points and grade it on a harder scale as they have more time to work on the speech. I also let them know if they have a valid excuse AND they contact me before the next class, I can forgo the five point deduction but not the harder scale since they still have the additional time.

Well today I was supposed to have 6 speeches but one student was not there and I have not heard from this individual (yet). On Monday, there were also supposed to be 6 speeches but one student did not show and one who did show was not prepared. The one who was not there on Monday claimed that I was sent an e-mail but it just was not getting through to me. I never saw it.

The second student, while I am disappointed was not ready to speak, at least came up to me and said, “I forgot”. At first it seemed like there was an excuse coming and then the student stopped and said, “You know what, I just forgot”. That approach goes a lot further with me.

Still, usually it is not until the second or third graded speech that students start missing the scheduled speaking date. It is very frustrating when it happens at all, but for it to be happening this early in the semester is very depressing. Sometimes I just wonder about the dedication of today’s students.

I am always tempted to make students who give late speeches wait an extra session for my critique and grade. I am always tempted to provide less feedback as my protest statement. Thus far, however, my conscience has always won out and I have been unable to do that.

Hopefully the rest of the students are there, on time, to give the speech on the date that each signed up for.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


My father taught as an adjunct professor for over 30 years. He had quite a following. He also had numerous degrees he had earned, many of which carried certain titles. Any were appropriate. Still, he used to tell his students if they wanted to make him feel smart, feel good, put him in a good mood before grading, they should call him ‘Professor’. When he first told his students this, he was not a full professor, although ultimately he was able to get the degree, despite being an adjunct.

I have a slightly different relationship with my students. I am on a first name basis with them, they can call me by my first name. This is something my father never would have done. Still, while I do not have any such degree, there is always a rewarding feeling when some of your students call you professor. I, of course, am not a professor. I think my rank is adjunct lecturer, but I am not even sure.

While I tell my students that they can call me by my first name, I also know that some of them are more comfortable calling me by my last name, or using a title, and I am fine with that. In fact, like my dad, sometimes I find it feeding my ego.

In fact, when I was interviewing for the full-time position (still no word) at campus, as I was getting a tour, a former student passed me in the hall and said, “Hey professor … , how are you?” That could not have been timed any better or more perfectively. It was a nice feeling and one that may help to earn me a position.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Where Are You?

It seems every semester I have a student or two on my roster who never shows up to class. I e-mail the students but never hear back. The college policy is, if someone never shows up, you have to give them a failing grade and you list the last date the student attended class, which in this case would be the first class session.

I used to feel bad about failing these students. They never showed, maybe something happened, maybe they thought they dropped, who knows. I do, as I said before, however, e-mail them and try to do my part. Still, I would rather not fail such students.

Last semester, however, I learned something very interesting talking to one of the other adjuncts. It seems that in order to get certain amounts of financial aid, students often need to take a certain amount of credits. So, they register for a class to which they never intend to show. Sure, they fail the class, but they still get the financial aid.

When I learned of this little fact, I stopped feeling so guilty, so sorry for the students I failed because they never showed up. And, in the event the instructor who told me this is wrong, it is still up to the students to know what they have dropped and what classes they still have. Again, as a result, I do not feel so bad when I have to fail these students.

The joys of teaching.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Happy Camper

It is interesting how things work. Sometimes what we initially think is a negative can turn out to be positive (and, of course, Vice-Versa). Over the summer I had applied for a full-time teaching position at the college where I work as an adjunct. I have posted on this before, how I have always done what was asked of me and was disappointed that they did not even bring me in for an interview for the position. I would have been fine with them hiring someone else, but I really felt they should have tossed me a bone and interviewed me.

After this happened, I decided I needed to stop being so accommodating. I am not suggesting that I should cut back on doing my responsibilities, but I needed to also concentrate on me, instead of doing the things I hoped might bring me a full-time position.

As a result, when I put my syllabus together this semester, I took off all the Jewish Holidays. It is certainly legitimate and protected by state law. Still, it is difficult when you have seven days needed to take off within a month span (assuming none of the holidays fall on a weekend). This year, since Yom Kippur fell on a Friday, I only needed six days off. Still that meant that I needed last Thursday and Friday off (9/13-9/14), as well as this coming Thursday and Friday (9/27-9/28) and the following Thursday and Friday (10/4-10/5). In the past, I might have worked a couple of those days because I felt self conscious taking off so much time at the beginning of the semester in such a short period. This year is different. I took it off with no hesitation as I decided this was important to me and what I had done for years before.

As it turned out, many of you know from a previous post that after not getting the teaching position, I interviewed for another position on campus. I do not know if I will get it (I hope so), but one way or another, at least they did what I feel they needed to, they gave me the opportunity to interview for it. From here, they will decide who their favorite choice is (and I’m sure rank the first few candidates in order in case the first person offered the position turns it down).

In other words, I am taking off all the days I want (need, or feel entitled to) and I have the opportunity to obtain a full-time position at the college. I am a happy camper.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Whose Line

Today we played Whose Line Is It Anyway in class. Before the students give their first speech, I play the game, it has become one of my trademarks. First we watch a bunch of segments from the show and then we play.

I remember when I was in High School, if our English teacher wanted to “reward” us, she would show us some videotapes of the Best Of Saturday Night Live (Old Cast) and we all enjoyed it. In part, I show the clips for the entertainment and enjoyment purposes. It is not a reward, but it helps students get a laugh before their first graded assignment.

In addition, it teaches the students how difficult it can be to come up with creative improv stuff. The main purpose, however, is to make the students embarrass themselves a little bit. I am not looking to make this a horrific experience, just a little bit of embarrassment. After everyone has had a chance, I explain that most speakers are nervous when giving a speech because they are afraid of doing something that will embarrass them in front of others (whether that is making a mistake, poor delivery, or something else). Here, they have just embarrassed themselves in front of the rest of the class so they no longer need to worry about that and they can just relax and concentrate on doing well.

This exercise usually seems to help and even if it doesn’t, most of the students enjoy playing the game. And, perhaps as an added treat (or maybe an added bit of displeasure) I play too. They, as a class, can pick which event I participate in.

I would not ask my students to do something that I am unwilling to do.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dealing With High-Schoolers

It is interesting how perceptions can change over time. When I first started teaching my class made up of high school seniors, I found the group to be difficult, it was hard for me to teach. It still requires some additional tolerance and I have to deal with certain issues that many other instructors do not, but I have grown to appreciate this class.

Many seniors come to my class and have had limited to no experience with college classes. I treat them like they are traditional college students. They have the freedom to come and go as they please; they call me by my first name; they are treated like adults.

When I start teaching this way, they seem to enjoy it. They give me the impression that they have never had another teacher that does some of the crazy things I do, and they enjoy that. So, this class has move from one of the ones I found most difficult to teach to one of the ones I enjoy the most. I like the course material, but I like the approach and the way they relate to what I am teaching. These days it seems like I am able to get a livelier discussion going with the group of high-schoolers. I guess this is my reward.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Taking Off The Mirror

It is amazing the obstacles we tolerate so that we can do our jobs. My new house has a nice size, two and one half car garage. Since we get a lot of snow and cold weather, this is a good thing. Unfortunately, I have not yet learned how to gage the distance of things appropriately. I went to pull the car out of the garage the other day. I was certain I was clear of the sides of the garage but in backing out, I hit the side of the garage, taking off my side view mirror.

Fortunately it was not that expensive to fix and it did not even take long to get it done. It did, however, take me a couple of days to make the calls and get everything set up. If I were not teaching, things would not be too bad. My “Day Job” is about five miles away from my house. Teaching, however, takes me about 40 miles out of my way, every day.

Try driving 40 miles without a side view mirror on the driver’s side. It is not easy, even for those of us who do not think we use it that much. Now, try driving with a broken side view mirror. The shattered glass makes it even more difficult than driving a car with no mirror.

Here I am, driving for the past couple of days, with a side view mirror that does not work, heading to campus, making sure I get the job done (I am so dedicated- lol). Well, now it is all taken care of and fixed. The next step is to get me fix, to get the eyes checked (it has been too long since my last exam) and to see if I have a depth perception issue. All I have to do is find the time. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

You Did This To Yourself

It was not long ago that I was posting blog entries expressing concern that my second or third public speaking classes might not go, that enrollment would be too low. As I indicated in subsequent entries, both other classes went and for the first time, I am teaching three classes in one semester.

As the old saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for, it might come true”. Well, I am sure that when I start getting checks from the university, I will be pleased to have extra income (especially because my main job, the day job, is one where the boss pays me what he can, when he can, since there is not a steady stream of money coming into the business. I can go weeks, or even months without seeing a paycheck, hence the reason for teaching classes in the first place). Right now, however, I am definitely feeling the pressures, the stress.

I could be feeling the stress because I am teaching three classes. I could be feeling the stress because I take off for the Jewish Holidays and there are so many around this time of year it is hard to get into a routine. I could be feeling the stress because I interviewed for a full-time, non-teaching position with the college. I could be feeling the stress because for the first time in months, things are picking up at the day job and I am really the only person in during the day and cannot afford to be out of the office so much. Of course, when showing up to teach brings in a paycheck and being in the office does not, I cannot afford to give up the teaching.

No matter how you look at it, the bottom line is, I am dealing with stress. This is the time where I would be happy if I only had two classes. This is the time where I would be thrilled if I was only teaching three days a week (as I usually do in the Spring) instead of five days a week.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could choose when we got busy, be able to space out the busy times from one position to another so it does not get crazy with all the jobs right around the same time. Oh well, nothing I can do about it now but try and enjoy it.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Liar, Liar

Today was video day in class. I showed a portion of Jim Carey’s Liar Liar. The movie is about a lawyer who makes a living lying and he does not leave his deception in the courtroom, he lies to his family as well. His son makes a birthday wish that for 24 hours his dad cannot lie, and the wish comes true.

There are a number of scenes in the movie that I could use to make a point but the one I like is the one where a coworker, seeking revenge and being the only one who knows Carey cannot lie, brings him into a boardroom and makes him tell each member there what he thinks of them. Carey’s facial expression and body language in general, along with his vocal variety, make the scene funny.

That is precisely the point I want to make. The lecture is about delivery and gestures. Rather than just getting up in front of the class and telling them, “Do this, don’t do that,” I like to actually show them and show them by playing a clip from a movie to which they can relate.

Honestly, it was a little frustrating when a couple of students continue to talk during this. Usually when I do something like this, especially with a movie like Liar Liar, I have the class in the palm of my hand. This is an interesting group. As a whole, they can get lively discussions off the ground but, there are times where a few students are not paying attention were I know they would actually enjoy the class AND learn something if they did. These, of course, are the same student who will complain to be about grades at the end of the semester. Folks, if you pay attention you might be surprised with what you learn!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A New Position?

I recently interviewed for another position where I teach. This is a full-time position and involves helping to run the program where high school students can get college credit. There are over 40 high schools that participate in this program. Those 40 plus schools are spread out over a 15 county area, so the person who has this position will stay quite busy.

I am not sure how it will play out but I know one of the classes I teach at the college is actually under the umbrella of this office, I teach a group of high school seniors. I have been doing this for the past three years or so. It has its challenges but it is also fun.

It is up to the hiring committee to decide if I am the best candidate. It is up to the hiring committee to decide if my experience teaching this class actually makes me more qualified to handle the position.

It is up to me to make sure that if I get the position, I continue to periodically teach one of these classes. It does not have to be done as frequently as I am doing right now but I need to keep touch with where I started from, with the grass roots. Doing this is helpful, I believe, because it will provide me with first hand knowledge of what is happening with the program and what challenges students and teachers involved with the program face. Of course this is just one arm of the office and staying involved with the program would not help me with the other arms of the program, but it would still keep me involved and I believe that is very important.

I will keep you posted as to what happen; if I get the job or not and if I do, how I will manage to stay involved with teaching.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

My penitence (or T’Shuvah)

Having had a rough class my last session, I decided that my students needed to see me at my best and I hope I came through at the last class session. It helps that the material is amongst some of my favorite. I was talking about organizing the body of a speech and introductions and conclusions.

For the organization part, I start off by giving them a recipe of how to make a dish for dinner. The recipe however is out of order. So, I say something like first do this than that, however before you get here you should also do this. Even before that, do this. Continue by doing that. And it goes on like that.

I asked the students if they would be able to figure out the recipe and they tell me they probably could. I then show the same recipe in chronological order and ask them which one would be easier to follow if they were cooking and which would be quicker (because you do not need to decipher anything). Of course, they tell me the recipe where it is organized chronologically is best. I then not only tell them, but show them that the way you organize a speech (or anything really) is important.

After this part of the lecture, I talk about introductions and here is where I usually am able to have every class member focus on what I say (at least for a short period of time). I tell them I am big on introductions and introductions are important. My next line is something like, “A speech without a good introduction is a lot like sex … … … … … Without foreplay”.

I go on to tell them that it can get the job done and it can even be good, but if they want it to be truly memorable, than it is important. Usually, by this point all eyes are on me and students are amazed that I actually said it. I think it is a great analogy and it makes the point. Most of the semester I will not reference sex. I do try to be politically correct, as much as possible. Certainly I do not want to insult anyone. I think this is another reason why I get their attention, because they feel it is out of character for me.

And, it I did not make it up to them with the lecture, I actually let them go about five minutes early (which is a rarity for me).

Friday, because of the Jewish Holiday, they had the day off from class. Now, it is back to the routine and while I do not feel I “owe” them a good class, certainly I always want them to enjoy it, so it is time to start looking over Monday’s lesson.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Three's A Charm

Today started my third class. Up until now, I have never taught more than two classes in a semester. I have been offered, but enrollment for one of the three classes never took off, so I only did two of them. The two that I did would vary, but only two.

Of the three classes I teach, one is on the main campus. Any public speaking class on the main campus will go. A second class I teach is at one of the campus centers. I usually do this one once a week, on Fridays. This semester, based on when they wanted be on the main campus, I was switched to a Tuesday-Thursday schedule. This class sometimes goes and sometimes doesn’t. It is going this semester. The third class I teach is also at the campus center, but it is for high school seniors, in the different area schools. This one also sometimes goes and sometimes does not. This semester it is going.

Because the third class is with high school students, it usually starts a couple of weeks later and today was the first class session. Right now it feels overwhelming and that I have a bit too much on my plate. Still, I am going to do this, do it well and enjoy it.

I realize if I were not an adjunct then I would not have additional responsibilities to juggle. Still, doing three actually puts me in awe of the full timers at the community college who teach five classes.

Well, here is to a full, fun and exciting semester. Cheers!

Monday, September 10, 2007

An Unprepared Teacher

Today was probably the first day ever where I was not prepared to teach. Do not get me wrong. I have had those days where nothing goes right. I have had those days where the students are not paying attention and no matter what you try, it just does not work. I have had, like everyone else who teaches, those days where you just feel like chucking the whole thing and doing something else. Today was not like that.

The movers came this past weekend to move us into our new place. The computer was not set up and we will not have internet access for a few more days. As a result, we left the computer set up in the old apartment, which we still have some time to vacate. The computer is still hooked up to the internet (which we still have at the old place) and it is also hooked up to the printer. An old computer is in our new place. By the time it was set up, along with enough of the house to do work, it was time to put the child to bed (and of course he wanted me to do it). I did not start typing up my critiques for the class until close to 9PM, and I had 13 to do (and I still have 11 for my Tuesday, Thursday class). I stopped around midnight and did the last three around 5:30 this morning. I still had to print them out.

I had hoped to have time to stop at the old place to print them off of my thumb drive, but there just was not enough time. When I got to campus I had to print them out and attach the comments from all other students to the critique. I then realized with less than 10 minutes to the start of class, I did not even know what I was supposed to cover in today’s class. Fortunately, on my thumb drive I have a lesson plan of each chapter in the book. I found a copy of my syllabus so I knew what chapters we were covering today. I printed them out, grabbed them and ran to class. I did not have a chance to look over the notes ahead of time or to skim the chapters, which I like to do. I still have no idea how comprehensible I was (or comprehensive for that matter), but I just never felt like I had a grasp on that lesson, and I hate that.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Personality Traits

It is amazing how, after students give their first speech of the semester, I am much better at knowing everyone’s name. The initial speech is a speech about themselves. I tell the students, however, I am not looking for an autobiography of their life. I want to know what makes each person unique, what makes them who they are.

When I first started teaching I had a tough time getting this across. I then noticed that in the textbook I use (adjuncts do not have a say in the matter, we are just told), there is an appendix towards the beginning about the icebreaker. It has great information and I rely on it heavily during the first two class sessions so the students know what I want.

Then, after a couple of semesters, I was sent a copy of the videotape that goes with this (and now CD and DVD). These contain examples of the different types of speeches, all of them student speeches. So, now I show them to the students and we discuss them and the students have a much better time understanding what I want. As my dad used to say, “It is so much easier if you know what you have at your disposal”.

Now, when I hear the students give the speech of introduction, the icebreaker, they discuss something that happened to them during the course of life (such as one student who told us his father died when the student was just two years old). Some students take one item and explain many different things about the personality through the item. For example, one student discussed her charm bracelet and what each charm signified.

It is fascinating that once I hear the speech, I have something tangible to attach to each student. This actually makes it much easier for me to remember names as I will recall each student by something about his or her personality.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Procrastinating Or Not, You Decide

Things are as I feared. I now have 21 speeches to critique and I have not yet started the process. Nine of them should be handed back tomorrow. Now, I can be a procrastinator, but I plead not guilty this time around.

The first nine speeches were given yesterday and I had hoped to start the process. After class, however, I had a doctor’s appointment. From the doctor, I had my “regular” job, I needed to get some things there. Last night I had a meeting for a club I am involved with. It is a public speaking organization and as a result, since that is what I teach, it is definitely worth my while to attend. At that meeting, it was decided that a few of our members needed to be contacted via e-mail. When I got home, I started doing that. In addition, I am trying to help my wife pack as the movers are coming this weekend to move us from our apartment to our new home. Since I pulled a muscle, or strained it, or did something, over this past weekend, my wife is not letting me do much packing, but I am trying to help a little.

Today, I had my second class to teach and I just realized that my third class, which starts this Tuesday, still needed a course syllabus to be completed, so I do that. Again, I still have to do some things back in the office for my main job. So, with today’s class another 11 students spoke, thus raising the total to 20 speeches that need to be critiqued.

I do like to get the speech critiques back to them As Soon As Possible, especially for the first speech, so it looks like after I finish helping my son with his homework tonight and put him to bed (I certainly should be doing this if I cannot do much to get ready for the movers. This will free my wife up to do those things), it looks like I will be up late, pounding the keyboard, typing up feedback for speeches.

This, to me, is when the life of an adjunct gets overwhelming. Trying to get all this in while still going into the office to take care of other things. Oh well, it could be worse. And, yes, typing this entry is therapeutic. It is amazing that something which takes up even more of my time can be so helpful when it comes to reducing stress.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A Lot Of Speeches

I am about to enter one of the busiest, or perhaps in a sense most difficult parts of the college semester. I know it seems strange to read that considering the semester is just over a week old, but here is where things are.

Every semester, the first formal speech the students have to give is one where they introduce themselves to the rest of the class by revealing some aspect of their personality. It is a non-graded speech, except for the fact that it counts in class participation so they cannot just skip it or plan on “winging” it.

I liked the students to know where I feel they are starting. They should know what I feel their strengths and weaknesses are. As a result, each student will get a full critique from me. Usually, in any given speech day there are no more than eight speaker and that is already a lot. I try to keep it to around six. Since this speech, however, is much shorter, many more students speak each session. I also try and get the students the critique back by the next class session. Sometimes I fail, but I try. Again, especially with the first speech, I want to get it back to them ASAP so they can formulate a game plan for the rest of the semester.

My 55 minute class has 22 students. Approximately half of them will speak tomorrow and the other half on Friday. My Tuesday, Thursday class is one hour and 20 minutes and has 13 students. All of them will be speaking on Thursday. That means that I will be listening to and critiquing 35 speeches over 3 days with the intent of having all critiques handed back my Monday.

I like these speeches, I just wish I did not have to critique them. Usually I enjoy giving feedback to students but this is just a little too much.

Oh well, I will survive… I do every semester.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day

Today marks the unofficial end of summer. There was a time that just about all schools started the day after Labor Day. Now, it is very haphazard. Some schools still start this coming Wednesday. Some schools start tomorrow and many schools, especially Colleges and Universities started this past week.

I started last week. Yes, it is nice to start a little earlier as that means that I will end a little earlier. Still, there are other schools that will not start until this week and will also end right around the same time I do. It does feel a little awkward to teach for a week and then turn around and have a day off. I think that there is something to be said for going back to the old way, all schools start the Wednesday after Labor Day.

Actually, in terms of days off, it is interesting how my Monday, Wednesday, Friday class differs from my Tuesday and Thursday class. On MWF, I have something like three or four days off for the semester. For my Tuesday, Thursday class, I only have one day off and that is Thanksgiving Thursday. I think that it would be advantageous to give students another day or two off for Tuesday, Thursday classes, just so they get a chance to recharge their batteries.

The college, however, does not see it that way, so I will be in class when I am supposed to be there. Hopefully students from all my classes will use today to get some extra rest and recharge and they will be ready to go tomorrow.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Making Use Of Your Time

Do college students make the best use of time? How about teachers? Or, human beings in general. All to often we think about all we have to do and feel like we just do not have enough time. Sometimes this is true, but other times perhaps we are the ones who make it too difficult.

I once read a quote that said “The time we spend wasting is not wasted time”. I agree. Therefore, I am not suggesting that we waste too much time, rather I am suggesting we do not plan as well as we could. This point was driven home just a little while ago by my son.

He is watching cartoons on television and is engrossed. I asked him if he wanted lunch and he said, “nay, not right now”. I know he is so engrossed by cartoons he just does not want to be bothered or think about it. I told him that he needed to realize that it will take time for me to make his lunch and if he tells me now, it can be ready at the end of the show. He acknowledged this but still said he was not ready to decide on lunch.

Let me tell you what will happen. The show will end, he will tell me he is hungry and then he will start whining because he will have to wait for me to make lunch. He does not matter that I pointed this out to him.

As frustrating as this is, I think the rest of us are just as guilty of doing things similar to this. When we could be working on a lesson plan or preparing school work (or in some way have some of it prepared while we are relaxing), we do not think about it. Then it gets late in the day and we start looking to cut corners.

Hopefully, we will all learn the best way of making use of the time that we have (and yes, making use of that time includes relaxing so we have more energy for things when we need it). And, hopefully my son will not whine or have a temper tantrum.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Learning Names

As the semester gets underway, I (like most teachers) face the task of learning the names of students. Being that I teach a Public Speaking class, even my large classes do not go over 22 students, so it is certainly doable for me to learn all the names). I have often wondered if it is easier for an adjunct like me to learn the names, or if it is easier for a full time teacher to learn.

As an adjunct, I teach fewer classes than a full-timer. Teaching at a community college, full-timers teach five classes. As an adjunct, I cannot teach more than three classes. This means it is easier for me because I have fewer students overall.

On the other side, a full-timer is on campus a lot more than an adjunct. This means that he or she sees the students around campus. Students can come say” hello”. Full-timers hold office hours (or more office hours) depending on the institution. Again, this allows students to spend more time with a professor early on and learn names.

I guess the truth is, it really depends on the individual teacher and not whether or not the individual is a full-timer or an adjunct. I am usually not so great when it comes to learning names. Still, I usually can learn the names of all my students within two to three weeks of the start of the semester. I think I am on pace to do that. I certainly hope so, as I feel I owe it to my students to not only know who they are, but to also learn there names.

I’ll let you know in another week or two if I succeeded.