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.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Living By The Same Set Of Rules

I was talking with a fellow adjunct professor today and I noticed how many of us have two sets of rules, one for students and one for ourselves. I hope I do not fall into that category.

I remember how as a graduate student I showed up half an hour late to class. My watch had stopped and restarted without my knowledge, so when I walked into class thinking I was on time, I was actually 30 minutes late. This was a class made up of graduate and undergraduate students. The instructor stopped mid-sentence to lecture me about the importance of showing up on time.

While I was frustrated and annoyed by the professor’s reaction, he certainly had a right to do so and this was an important issue to him. For the rest of the semester I tried to redeem myself and actually was successful in doing so. I had this professor for two classes and I showed up an hour early to each session of both classes, about 15 minutes before he got there, so he would see me ready and eager to learn.

What annoyed me was when I needed to see him about an issue and showed up at his office, during his posted office hours, he was not there. I waited for thirty minutes and he did not show. I got up to leave and as I was walking out, he was first walking in. He looked at me and begrudgingly said, “I suppose you want to see me too”.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Well, you’ll have to come back in about 20 minutes because I have things I need to take care of first,” he said. When I returned 20 minutes later, he looked at me and said, “You need to learn the first rule of being a graduate student; Early to class, late to office hours.”

What the instructor was telling me was, “My life and my schedule are important, yours are not”. I made up my mind right then and there to live by the same set of rules I give my students.

Getting back to the adjunct professor I was talking with earlier, he was complaining that he was booted off a library computer because they are for students. He said that as he left he looked and saw most of the students were simply checking their personal e-mail accounts, not even their campus e-mail.

I understand the frustration but these computers are set aside for students. As adjuncts, we have offices. Yes, we share them with many other adjuncts so a computer is not always available, but you can wait and use it and we are given access.

I am guessing this instructor would have been the first to voice displeasure if students were using equipment set aside for professors. We may not like it, we may not approve of what students are using equipment for, but it is set aside for them. We should live by the same set of rules!