For Adjuncts Life Can Be Tough, But Let’s Accentuate the Positive

By Melissa Miller, Ed.D., M.Ed.

Let’s accentuate the positive. In this time of protests, war, and crises of epic proportions, perspective is in order for my world. I love my profession and am thankful for the job(s) I have. Too often we focus on what we don’t like or what disappoints us. I want to reflect on what I love about my career:

While there are students who exasperate me to early gray hairs, there are more students who bring me smiles, humor, joy, and inspiration. Many of my students are facing personal hardships and crises, yet they come to class with smiles on their faces and an open mind, ready to learn. I love this! I am forced to bring my “A” game to class every day when they arrive in such good spirits. I often think about how my students have these challenges and they are working hard to make a better life for themselves and their families. Many of them are truly inspiring.

I love learning new things, and my job affords me the opportunity to spend time at work, reading and researching. My other dream job would be to be paid to read, but this is the next best thing.

The flexibility of adjunct life is perfect for my family. I am in the extremely fortunate position of not being the primary breadwinner in our family; otherwise I may view things differently. But for our family, being an adjunct professor has allowed me to stay home with my daughter and only use family for “day care” as needed. We couldn’t have asked for a better lifestyle, and this is what I worked for when I went back to school for my doctorate degree.

Being an adjunct allows me to network with others who value education and learning. I enjoy having colleagues who are interested in education, life-long learning, current research, and interesting topics in general. Many of my colleagues share these interests and they, too, enjoy their careers – refreshing! I like working with other new professors, and veteran teachers who often have great advice and mentorship.

I love that even though I may teach the same courses, every day and every group of students is different. One lecture never goes the same as the previous lecture, and this spontaneity and change is refreshing. I get to “grow” with a group of students, and then I receive a new group in the next semester. This pace of change is very satisfying.

In this economy, I am thankful there are students out there willing to spend their precious income or savings, or take on the burden of loans for their education. I’m thankful they entrust me to teach them some of what they need to know on their journey.

These are my perspectives on what I love about my job as a New Adjunct. What do you value about your job as an Adjunct?

About the New Adjunct: Dr. Melissa Miller completed her Ed.D. with an emphasis in Teacher Leadership from Walden University. She holds a M.Ed. from Mary Washington University and a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Virginia Tech. Dr. Miller’s professional and research interests include adult and online learning, professional development, and literacy. Presently, Dr. Miller works as an adjunct instructor and an evaluator, while also enjoying her roles as a wife and mother.

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