Thursday, October 11, 2007

Instead of grading

Hi Sara,

I hope you and family are well. Rocket & the baby seem to be progressing nicely. I can't quite get my mind around having three boys, but I'm sure I'll get used to it come February. Maybe we can grab lunch together sometime next week, say Tuesday or Thursday?

Still grappling with the commute and student load. I'm trying to figure a way that this could still work for the Spring. I'm taking your earlier remarks to mean there's no chance of me getting hired on full-time with benefits in the Spring. I keep thinking of my contract that reads "it is anticipated that Faculty Member shall work no more than sixteen to eighteen hours per week." And so, I did some calculations (discounting the commute, since that's not really Lemon's concern, even if it is mine). Bear in mind, the commute itself is at least 6-9 hours per week!

I teach about 5:15 per week. Plus 2:00 of office hours. If I allow say 2:15 of prep time per week (which is much less than I'm spending this term). That's 9:30. Leaving 6:30-8:30 hours for grading. Let's say I spend about 10 minutes per week on average per student (which is less than I'd like to spend, but manageable). That means every six students is another hour. That comes to 39-51 students total. Say 20-25 per class.

Under the conditions of my contract with Lemon then I shouldn't have more than 20-25 students per course. What's the chance of my capping the courses at that level for the Spring? And what's the chance of me having access to an office at least an hour before and an hour after class on Tu/Th, and say two hours before on Wednesdays?

If I ought to ask these questions of somebody else, please let me know.

Be well,

The real irony or tragedy in all this, is that I feel guilty and aggressive for writing and sending this letter. I think of my friend, Sara, and her advice to me at the beginning of the term (don't seem nervous) not in front of the students so much. She meant "don't seem nervous" in front of the staff ... it was said in an air to mean don't make waves, don't ask for too much, try to take care of things yourself, don't rely on others. That, and the attitudes (I'm busy, what can I do for you... quickly) that I got from some of the administrative staff, created a rather stifling entry for me to Lemon. Don't ask for much, don't expect it.

I feel dirty, and pushy, to make these arguments, to say that I think a bare minimum of time spent per student ought to be in the order of 10 minutes/week, or that it's not unreasonable for me to be expected to spend a half hour to prep for every hour of classroom time. And yet, I feel myself shrinking from those arguments, as if I have no right to make them. Don't you know there are hundreds of hungry dogs nipping at the gates to get a chance at those nibbles you're discarding?

It's not being hungry that makes us behave as animals. It's behaving as animals that makes us hungry! The more we line up submissively to take this treatment, the worse the treatment will get. Forget the arguments about the economy shutting down if illegal immigrants walked off the job. How would our schools survive, if all the adjuncts simply required a fair wage, reasonable conditions, and benefits, in line with their qualifications, commitment, and effort?

1 comment:

Lilian said...

good, excellent questions... but it seems that's not gonna happen anytime soon. That's why the "Invisible Adjunct" walked out and gave up (hers was the first blog I ever read, after she had already quit blogging).