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.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Short Speeches

I find it interesting the number of students who try and give a very quick speech and then sit down. The speeches for class should be between 4 ½ and 7 ½ minutes. I have some students that seem to try and speak in as little time as possible. As a result, I implemented a new policy that I had hoped would take care of the problem. I tell students if they miss the time limit by more than two minutes on either end, they are started with a B- and I will go from there.

I hoped this would show students the importance of putting time and effort into planning a speech. It has worked in other semesters but not this one. I’ve had students, this semester, give speeches that were around one and a half minutes. When they get my critique back, you can tell that they are a little disappointed with the grade. After all, a student who begins at a “B-,” and uses vocal pauses and should have a stronger introduction, could find him/herself with a “C” on the assignment and the individual then questions the grade.

Folks, if you are not going to put the time into the speech, the grade will not be so great. If you don’t care enough about the topic to find more material, then the speech will not be very powerful, and neither will the grade.

Hopefully, after reading the current critiques, seeing the grades and realizing that I am serious when I talk about the grades, they will realize I mean what I say.

Up Tomorrow—Attendance- Part two!

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Yesterday I started ranting and raving about things that bother me. Today I will continue. It is not an unusual occurrence for a student to register for my class and then never show up. Usually it is only one or two individuals but there are semesters I finish where I have never met the student.

College policy is that these individuals need to fail the class. I used to feel bad about failing such students. I thought maybe the student got confused as to what class they registered for. I even used to send e-mails to such students, but I never got a response back for those students trying to take the class in absentia, so I gave up.

I was talking about this a couple of years ago with another adjunct and she explained that this is usually done quite deliberately. In order to get financial aid, students often have to register for a certain number of credit hours. They don’t actually have to get credit for all the classes, just register for them. Once I realized this was a game that students were playing, I no longer felt bad about failing them, I actually relished the thought and if there was anything I could do to find a way to make them have to pay back the funding, I would.

Last semester, I had a new happening. I am not sure if this is the case for all students who get financial aid or just some but, in order to get the money, the administration needs to make sure that the students have attended at least some of the class sessions come the halfway point of the semester. I got an e-mail from the administration asking about one student in particular and making sure she had been to some of the classes that took place on, or before, October 31. Guess what? Up until this date, she was at almost every class. After the date passed, I never saw her again. She was clearly playing the game.

Not only did I fail her, I sent an e-mail to administration explaining the game she was playing and how once the “magic date” passed, I never saw her. Again, I hoped this would lead to her financial aid being revoked. Unfortunately, administration told me all they needed was proof she had been there prior to 10/31. In other words, there was nothing I could do.

This semester, I have a student who showed up for the first couple of weeks of class. She came late just about every session. Since that time, I have not seen her. She was not there for any of the speaking dates set aside for the informative speech (the first speech the students give). Again, I wish there was a way I could do more than just fail these individuals.

By the way, don’t think that I am cruel or mean. A student who has true problems, who talks with me and is willing to work with me, I am willing to bend over backwards to help; it is for the students who clearly look to take advantage that I have no patience.

Up Next: The length of the speech…

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Anything Important Going On?

The semester is in full swing and there are a number of things which happen every semester that never cease to amaze me. One of my “favorite” occurrences happened the other day. A student missed class. I tell students that they can miss five classes for any reason but after that, it lowers their grade. (I suppose if someone could document that every single absences was excused I might consider making an exception but I am tired of students leaving early for sports games, or thinking that other happenings are more important than my class).

Anyway, back to this student who missed class. He sent me an e-mail explaining that he was sick and not up to coming to class, nor did he want to infect others (quite thoughtful). He asked me if he missed anything important.

This question infuriates me. Don’t my students know that we NEVER do anything important? What on earth could possible make him think he actually missed important, or possibly even, required material? I just show up for a paycheck! I never cover important material, I just come to class for my health!

A note to students: When we teach classes, any of us, we put time and effort into our lesson plan; we believe the material we are covering is important or we wouldn’t cover it. It is very frustrating to put energy into something only to have someone suggest that it might not be important. Don’t ask that question. In this case, it is okay to assume. Always assume that there is “important” information being covered.

The better question to ask is, “As you know I missed class, I really wasn’t feeling well. What do I need to make up the missed work and stay up to date with the rest of the class?”

Up next (Tomorrow): Students who never show up!