Monday, August 26, 2013

Let The Wild Rumpus Begin!

This post comes to you after midnight during the first week of classes.  I have been insanely busy getting all six of my courses ready to go, including attending some very fine sessions offered by the new school.  They had a nice focus on technology and were not only informative and useful, but also fun.  Plus, adjuncts were invited and I know that this invitation is not extended to all those out there in temporary faculty land.  Perhaps later I can share some of these things and let everyone know how they worked in my class, but that will have to wait until I have more time.  However, after these sessions put me in a better mood, I had to make a quick trip into my office at my older position, and this was harder than I expected.  Yes, I have an office space and computer of my own there (I don't at the new school), but it did not feel like "Mine" anymore, and I suppose it never was.  I was only a squatter.

Somewhere this week I acquired a rebellious streak--possibly motivated by the letter telling me that my health insurance would take half of each paycheck, should I choose to continue it--and I made a nice sign for my door.  I went on to and borrowed their definition of "adjunct" but I cleaned it up a bit and made sure the examples all fit the academic sense of the word.  Then I put it on my door. I haven't been back there since, so I don't know if anyone censored it.  I kind of doubt that, since my office is not located in a main hallway and not too many people pass that way on a regular basis.

Adjunct Definition

I've got another post I want to work up in regards to an article making the rounds, since it directly relates to the kind of coursework most adjuncts do, but I need to catch at least some sleep because I have three classes in a row to teach tomorrow.  At least I can walk to these and not drive an hour and a half.  #AdjunctProblems 

Monday, August 12, 2013

I was Gone, then Syllabus Freak Out

I really should've posted this notice BEFORE I left town, but, being new to blogging, I was thinking about packing and mundane things and forgot.  I spent a bit more than a week camping with friends and family, only to return home and get massively sick with some kind of crud.  As usual, I only get sick when I have mountains of work to do, so I guess I should've expected this.

Of course, I planned to return from my little vacation and write syllabi for my newly added teaching gig since they have given us a deadline for syllabi approval, but whatever I caught made me sick, sleepy, and stupid:  Triple S Syndrome.  All the while I KNEW I needed to be working but I could not think coherently.  As the week progressed, I snatched a couple hours here and there to browse the books that were assigned to me for the courses and at least select texts I might use.  Finally, by Saturday I was ready and well enough to attack the syllabi.  Well, I wasn't really ready but I could not put it off any longer.  (Add one crazy toddler who was also sick to the mix and a picture may emerge of how ridiculous my week was and how hard it is to get any time to work!)

Luckily I had some sample syllabi from both the new department and my good friend who not only taught the same courses for this school before, but actually is responsible for me even getting the job.  I also have his cell phone number and praises be for the convenience of text messaging though I'm reasonably sure he might block me now.  The worst part, when I opened what I thought were just template files from the department, I could see they were bureaucratic nightmares.  Pages and pages of policy, objectives, and rubrics.  Now, we had a training about writing assignments there, but we saw none of these that day nor did anyone explain this mess.  I opened my friend's syllabus to see how he'd handled it and there were all the same policies, just in a different font with better spacing.  (Confession time:  I'm really organized with syllabi and the illogical arrangement of these templates was killing me.  There were pieces that should logically have been adjacent but were pages apart.  I also had an email telling me not to mess with the order of parts, so..... frustration.  Clarity?  Goodbye!)

Since I work better with hard copy, I decided to print one whole syllabus from my friend:  no ink in the @#&^!? printer.  It was late on Saturday and many things were closed, therefore across town I went with my empty ink cartridge--so I could remember which one to get--to Staples and bought the very last #17 Lexmark for my sorry old printer.  I was going to buy two but they didn't have two.  Instead I wandered in the electronics and cool doodads sections for awhile fighting off the urge to either weep like a fiend or start shrieking like a worse fiend.  I HATE being under stress to get things like this done.  I wanted to write REALLY GOOD SYLLABI for new classes and here I was flailing around at the almost-last-minute with some sort of tangle of rules and regulations to teach texts I didn't pick out.  Eventually, I checked out, went by a coffee place on the way home and returned.

Okay, I fantasized about just keeping on driving until I ended up somewhere cool that didn't have the expectation of me making silk purses out of sow's ear syllabi, but I didn't do it.  I went home and back to work.

Once I broke the barrier of the bureaucracy, thanks to my friend's explanation of why it was all there, and I successfully placed it into a blank document, it seemed doable.  I went through and highlighted the section headings that still needed my specific input and tidied up the other stuff as best I could without altering either its content or order.  Once it LOOKED better, I felt better.  Then I grabbed my first text and made a list of my chosen selections.  After that, it was a matter of fitting those into the calendar while making room for required presentations and other assignments dictated by the department.  I had my friend's work as an exemplar, which made me feel like I wasn't out in left field with the dandelions, so I ended my day early on Sunday morning with one done and a clearer plan of attack for the other two.

Keep Calm and Read the SyllabusSunday late morning I finished the second by pasting my already tidied up policy pieces into the template for that course, made my text selection list, and quickly knocked that one out.  To be fair, it was a condensed seven-week course, but progress is progress.  Every victory counts.

After a break to buy groceries, feed family members who for some reason always need to eat, and do some minor household tasks, I returned to my desk to tackle the Last New Syllabus.  Using my now trusty method I finished it in record time and even heckled my friend to find where/how to look up course lists, rooms, and workshop scheduling.  Yeah, no one told me that either.  #adjunctproblems

So here it is, 4:19 a.m. on Monday morning.  I've sent my three syllabi for approval hours ago when it was still Sunday.  I even went into my old files and updated my three syllabi for my old job so that they're pretty much ready. I requested five workshops for that crew and now I wait.  The pessimist in me says I'll be told to do complete rewrites of the new syllabi and that all my workshop requests will only be able to be scheduled using my third choice dates/times, but that's how I am.  The glass isn't half full, in fact, my water glass is kind of empty and I should probably try to snatch a few hours' sleep.  The bigger child has to be at band camp later this morning.