Monday, August 20, 2012

 

Adjunct Materials

This one is particularly for the experienced adjuncts, especially those who frequently teach in multiple settings.

What materials do you find the most useful, when you get a class at a new department?  

(Yes, I know, some would just appreciate a full-time paycheck, medical insurance, etc.  I know.  Let’s just stipulate that and move on.)

I’m asking because some of the departments here are taking a fresh look at some of what they provide, and I’d like to make the handouts as useful as possible.

Are sample assignments useful?  Sample student work?  Suggested reading lists?  

In my own adjuncting days, I wasn’t given much: in one memorable case, all I got was the one-paragraph course description from the catalog.  While the freedom was nice, I couldn’t help but wonder how closely what I did actually matched what the course was supposed to achieve.  There was really no way of knowing.

What would you find useful?

Comments:
Sample syllabi are great, particularly ones I'd be free to borrow from for policies. Sample assignments would also be great. If the department uses a common text, make sure the supplementary materials are available (videos, workbooks, etc.). If someone has a library of materials for the course (e.g. videos of sample speeches for a speech course), it would be great to know where to find that. Also, if there's something that lots of people are doing/using (e.g. a department wiki, a subscription to a database or journal), let the adjunct know where to find it.
 
When I first became an adjunct at Proprietary Art School, the most helpful thing for me was to be given copies of the syllabi that were previously used for the courses I was supposed to teach. The syllabi were largely canned, but I was able to borrow from them and make changes to suit the particular needs of the courses I was going to teach. At least they got me started.

Another valuable starting point for a new adjunct is to be able to find a full-time faculty member who can play the role of a mentor and who can show you the ropes. Ideally, they can tell you what the rules of the road *really* are, they can give you hints on how to teach the courses you have been assigned, they can fill you in on how the performance review process works, and they can tell you the names of the people you definitely don't want to offend, etc. Fortunately, I was able to find such a person, and she was able to get me started off on the right foot.

Another thing that I found to be quite useful was to obtain a place at the school where I could store my course handouts, homework assignments, and syllabi so that I did not have to schlepp them every day back and forth between my home and the school.
 
Sample syllabi, list of suggested assignments, student samples and allowing adjunct to observe a full-time faculty member or meet with faculty & discuss the course In Relation to other courses.
 
I second or third the vote for sample syllabi. Examples of past student assignments for the course would be great, too.

Another thing that would have been helpful when I started teaching at my current school would be a handout that explained logistics on campus. Like where to go for your campus ID, who is the contact person in the bookstore, how to sign up for classroom visits from the writing center, who to call when the technology doesn't work in your classroom, etc. I had to figure all that stuff out on my own during the first semester, which is easy enough to do, but it does take time.

Also, it would have been helpful if I had some guidance on the kinds of student support services that are available at my school. After a couple of semesters at the school, I'm still learning about the various programs and offices I can send students to and I wish I had known about these opportunities earlier. I could have helped a few of my first semester students out.

Hope these ideas help!
 
Sample syllabi are good, particularly if some of them come from folks who you can then talk to about how they taught the course, what to expect from that school's student population, etc..

A clear idea of how they'll be evaluated. Is the most important thing that the dept head never hears students complain about the adjunct? Or does the dept head look for a rigorous approach, even if it might result in some student grumbling? How serious are the student evaluations, in terms of performance review? (These are questions that most of us might like to know the answers to, but just asking them, as a new employee, can look all wrong. Please just tell them up front so they don't need to guess.)

Some clue about how things work on campus would be helpful. (where to get AV equipment, whether you have library privileges, how to get an ID card, access to a computer, dealing with IT like intro to blackboard or whatever CMS you have, etc.)

What to do with student problems - campus ombudsman, mental health or crisis referrals, student judicial, campus police, etc.

Additionally, your campus practice for working with students with disabilities, returning veterans, or other populations that you might have special programs or services for.

A clue about campus norms when it comes to canceling a class or office hours (who to contact, how to communicate cancellation to students, whether it results in deduction in pay, whether you're expected to provide an alternate assignment, etc.)

In the department: a clear sense of whether adjuncts are invited/expected to attend or participate in any dept meetings, committees, or other functions. What office hour expectations are, and where they can be held, if the adjunct doesn't have an office space. How to get copies of exams made (what access to copiers & printers is available)? Whether the office staff proctors make-up exams, or whether the adjunct has to figure that out on their own. How to get on the good side of the most important person in the department - the department secretary.

By the way: our campus does a campus-wide orientation for new faculty that addresses many of these things, and adjuncts are routinely invited to participate in some or all of that orientation. After all, teaching is teaching, and new teachers have many of the same questions, regardless of their tenure-line status.

 
I forgot to add: some guidance about grading practices would help. Things like:

How do you find out when your final exam is scheduled for?

When are final grades due, and how/where do you submit them?

Does the University publish a standard for what percent = which letter grade? Or is that up to each instructor?

Are there rules about incompletes?






 
Just chiming in again to say YES to the info on grading and incompletes. The procedures for these really vary between schools.
 
I was going to post everything that others have said, and in addition to that: who to call to get keys to your classroom (and in the case of bench sciences, the laboratory stockroom/equipment area), and on top of that who to call in case your keys don't work or don't arrive by the first day of class. I've had that particular scenario happen to me more than once!
 
Yes to all of that, plus you need to know about the technology in the room you are teaching. What it is, how it works, and who to call for help.
 
The CC I teach at gives you your syllabus--you can't change much. Gives you your book, tells you what the assignments MUST be, including the final, but doesn't provide any samples. (Ex: They must do 2 persuasive speeches. One of these is the final where they must turn in a MLA citation of their research and speak for 10-12 minutes. and use technology. When I asked to see what they hand out to students I didn't get anything.)

I'd love to go to training but they offer it in conjunction with a million other things--I can't just check into tech training and leave I have to go to everything else too. Frankly, I'm not paid enough to go to your dinners and social meetings, etc. And if you have campus centers---as my CC does, please offer the training at the campus centers as going to the main campus is much further away than the campus center I teach at.
 
All of these are good suggestions. One school gave me a template for the syllabus, with all the required info included, and highlighted areas where I could insert my own content. A list of key phone numbers is essential, especially the IT help number for when classroom tech doesn't work is also useful.
 
I spent several days in "new part-time faculty orientation" this August without learning where to make copies or to obtain keys to my classroom. Seems like these practical things are often overlooked. I just came across your blog today and have enjoyed perusing old posts. Looking forward to following along.
 
Just came across this blog so my response might be too late. I agree about the syllabus and access to a faculty member (at least email address of the person) who teaches the same course.
 
Jack Longmate put out a call a while back for ideas and information on adjunct orientation for a project he is working on. I'm sending him this page and bookmarking it.

Most campuses don't have much in the way of funding for adjunct faculty orientation or professional development. I wonder how an open, cooperative project might work.

Different disciplines on H-Net have long collected and archived teaching resources, lesson plans and syllabi, NCTE too, although not as open. Other discipline specific professional groups probably have teaching resource sections too.

Ed blogs are another good source, although the sheer number of them is daunting and too much for any one person alone, even pruning by keyword search. That would be another advantage to a collaborative approach. Some of that work would already be done on aggregation sites. None of these replace a willing human mentor familiar with the particular institution.

As an aside, I would have missed this post altogether if not for a misleading reference to it elsewhere.
 
Jack Longmate put out a call a while back for ideas and information on adjunct orientation for a project he is working on. I'm sending him this page and bookmarking it.

Most campuses, especially at community colleges, don't have much in the way of funding for adjunct faculty orientation or professional development. I wonder how an open, cooperative project might work.

Different disciplines on H-Net have long collected and archived teaching resources, lesson plans and syllabi, NCTE too, although not as open. Other discipline specific professional groups probably have teaching resource sections too.

Ed blogs are another good source, although the sheer number of them is daunting and too much for any one person alone, even pruning by keyword search. That would be another advantage to a collaborative approach. Some of that work has already be done on aggregation sites.

None of these replace a willing human mentor familiar with the particular institution but could be useful start.

As an aside, I would have missed this post altogether if not for a misleading reference to it elsewhere. My personal apologies for republishing without checking. I now have and added a note.
 
A clear idea of how they'll be evaluated peluang usaha kecil sampingan . Is the most important thing that the dept head never hears students complain about the adjunct? Or does the dept head look for a rigorous approach, even if it might result in some student grumbling? How serious are the student evaluations, in terms of performance review? (These are questions that most of us might like to know the answers to, but just asking them, as a new employee, can look all wrong. Please just tell them up front so they don't need to guess
 
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