Interim Blog Posting

I was once an “interim” Chair (also referred to as “acting” and then changed to just plain ole Chair once the gig was up and no one else wanted that particular piece of furniture as a title), so I’m well aware of how, well, unsatisfying the term “interim” is, and this “interim” posting is just that: an unsatisfying blip before the “real” posting (that one on how NOT to apply for a faculty position at a community college–it’s in the works, I just need to let it simmer–it’s quite snarky right now).

So, without further ado, here is the Interim Blog Posting, or Random Thoughts After Finally Submitting Winter Grades.

1. Best research paper topics this term:

  • How Technology Makes Us Lazy
  • What IS Lesbian Art?
  • Miracles DO, Miraculously, Exist
  • About Those Aging Supreme Court Justices

2.  With a huge wait list for my spring literature class already in the works, and three e-mails from students claiming that their spring breaks will be just a wee bit longer than the one the college so stupidly scheduled for only one week, Gina Barreca’s poem “This Class is Thoroughly Under Way”  is going to be posted on my website (along with the wonderfully witty Tom Waymen’s “Did I Miss Anything?” poem).

3. I asked my American Literature students to bring to class their favorite novels of all time (not telling them that one of the final exam question topics was to examine that work in the context of the works we had read this term).  What an incredible list of books ranging from The Brothers K to The Brothers Karamazov. Here’s an edited list: the students, while eating cookies, cuties, and chips, shared the book with the class and told us why it was their favorite (note that this was a class that was 75% men, with at least 8 Iraqi war vets, and students from 18-50 years of age–all of the male students chose male authors, and ditto for the women students–99% chose female authors, interestingly):

  • The Notebook
  • Siddhartha
  • Ladder of Years
  • The Hobbit
  • Red Storm Rising (2 votes)
  • Don Quixote
  • The Island of the Blue Dolphins
  • The Deathly Hallows
  • Pride and Prejudice (2 votes)
  • Count of Monte Cristo (2 votes)
  • Portrait in Sepia
  • The Giver
  • Cather in the Rye
  • The Devil Wears Prada
  • The Jungle Book
  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
  • A Confederacy of Dunces
  • The Magus
  • The Brothers K
  • Brothers Karamazov
  • On the Road

4. That same literature class: some students chose the final essay topic asking them to explain the value of studying literature in college, using the texts from our class as examples for their explanation.  And as a gift, I received over a dozen thoughtful responses, including many that discussed the idea of “empathy” as a value:  this surprised me since it hadn’t come up that much in class discussion, though I did share Azar Nafizi’s essay early in the term: it must have had a strong impact!

On a related note, Bill Benzon posted Alec Baldwin’s defense of acting to show us literary/humanities types what we could/should be doing in our own ongoing defense of the value of literary/humanities studies.

5. AFT’s National Survey of Part Time Faculty is out: now I need to read it. 

And finally,

6. It’s that time of year again: anyone have a recommendation for a contemporary novel that would appeal to a wide variety of community members, that is written by a writer who is not TOO famous yet, and preferably male?

Calling All Adjunct Faculty

The very aptly named New Faculty Majority blog is requesting links to other academic bloggers who are contingent (part time, adjunct, temporary–there’s a slew of terms being bandied about these days, but all mean no job security, little pay, etc etc). Please drop them a note about your own blog.

AdjunctNation is another blog with links to resources for contingent faculty. They’ve already started a blogroll of other adjunct bloggers it seems, though it’s obviously incomplete.

And, since I’ve got your attention, adjuncts, could I ask your advice?

I’m part of a small crew of full time (mostly already tenured) faculty who are working to offer some practical workshops for those who are newly part time at our college (we hired at least 3 dozen this year alone, and we have under 100 full time faculty).  [Note: our faculty union is working on salaries and better health insurance; and our administrators are working on training and paying senior part timers to be mentors, so the workshops are the third leg of the stool, so to speak.]

We recently offered a workshop in Understanding Student Evaluations, which was only mildly successful at addressing the very real fear that bad evaluations.  I think it would have gone much better facilitated by a fellow part timer.  As a result, when we asked attendees (all volunteers who were not paid for attending the workshop, but who will get a letter in their file) to identify other topics of interest, almost all asked for basic instructional tidbits: how to lecture, how to best use Power point, how to do small group work, etc etc.  All excellent ideas, and all relevant to ALL faculty, certainly, not just adjuncts.

But is there some other topic we are missing that didn’t come up in our very small sample survey? Should we offer workshops in negotiating academia? (So many of our new part timers truly believe that they have a shot at a full time position “someday” despite not having a graduate degree at all in the field–we are a community college, but one that requires a minimum of an MA in the field, and for transfer programs, the Ph.D. is preferred).

Be brutally honest, please: what workshops do you think would attract more than a dozen of the over 100 part timers (half of them recently hired)?