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.

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Scarry Experience

This past semester I had an interesting challenge when one of my students was talking about committing suicide. The student was doing this in a joking manner and I think he just wanted to get attention. Don’t get me wrong, he was having a bad week, but with 20 other students in class at the time, I think it was an attention getting mechanism.

On the other hand, I know enough not to ignore such things as when a person talks about suicide, there is a real possibility that the individual is truly contemplating it. Moreover, how do you feel if you do nothing and heaven forbid a day or two later it turns out the student committed suicide.

I waited until the end of class and pull the individual aside to talk and asked if I could call anyone. The student assured me at this point that he was fine. I suggested he talk the next class off as kind of a mental health day. The individual did and then the following class session he returned and everything seemed fine.

This was the most severe but there are challenges a College teacher has to deal with in today’s society. What do you do if a student attends class drunk? What should you do if someone comes in stoned or you think the person is abusing drugs? Personally I think you need to take the student aside and suggest he or she get help and you should be willing to help. Still, ultimately the decision is up to the individual to get help.

It is amazing all the things I never stopped to think about before I started teaching as an adjunct. I am guessing that most full time professors have to go through some kind of formal training (and if they don’t, they should be required) and it probably would be a good thing to require adjuncts to go through it as well.