AdjunctNation.com » The New Adjunct http://www.adjunctnation.com News, Opinion, Analysis and More For the Adjunct Faculty Nation Wed, 28 Sep 2016 15:46:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 An Adjunct Professor Confesses… http://www.adjunctnation.com/2016/01/25/an-adjunct-professor-confesses/ http://www.adjunctnation.com/2016/01/25/an-adjunct-professor-confesses/#comments Mon, 25 Jan 2016 20:43:00 +0000 http://www.adjunctnation.com/?p=6559 by John Brown

[Imaginary dialogue based on Catholic confessions I willingly endured during my Catholic adolescence in the 1960s; doubtless the format/questions/vocabulary have much changed since that epoch.]

Georgetown adjunct professor [GAP, yours truly]: Bless me Father, for I have sinned.

Priest:

I bless you, my son. What sins do you confess?

GAP: I have been teaching courses, with much gratitude to Georgetown University, on American foreign policy, off and on for over a decade.

Priest:

So what is your sin? After all, teaching is not a sin, if practiced in the right way.

GAP:

Father, excuse my materialist concerns, I just don’t think my students are getting their money’s worth.

Priest:

My son: Money is only part of the moral universe.

graphicGAP: Thank you for your kindness, Father. But Father, although I was honored to receive a Ph.D from Princeton University, and then went on to be a Senior Foreign Service officer in the United States Foreign Service with many awards, and have many publications (some actually quite “scholarly”) I am not a tenured professor. I recently was asked to be on a Georgetown University dissertation committee, dear Father, which allowed me to judge on the scholarly value of academe’s “true,” professional entrance into serious scholarship.

Priest: So why should all these qualifications of yours bother you, my son?

GAP: Because my students are enduring extravagant costs for a college “higher” education, expecting, I assume, the best and the brightest academic pedagogues, who — as they fully deserve — get a full salary. And by the “best professors,” I mean those who have tenure and are respected by their professional academic colleagues. I am not in their league/”lane,” Father, as has been made somewhat clear (by whom I don’t really know) for over a decade at a Jesuit institution of higher earning (please forgive my spelling sin, Father, I meant “learning).”

And yet students are paying high prices, to be taught by non-tenured academic hired-hands (hacks?), such as I, “instructing” them. Should not the “real” professors teach students more than the academic hired-hands do, instead of high-priced universities relying on “second-rate” instructors/adjuncts supposedly enlightening the young (and not so young)? I feel guilty, Father, and seek your absolution.

Priest:

My son — How much are you getting remunerated for teaching your course (s), now over a decade?

GAP: A couple of thousand dollars per course, Father, without insurance or any assurance of permanent employment.

Priest:

Do you feel exploited?

GAP: Father, with all due respect: My consolation is Christ on the crucifix.

Priest: Say three Hail Marys and go back to the books before you pretend to be a “professor” you, so-called “Dr.” Brown. Roma locuta est; causa finita est.

***

Full disclosure: I was reprimanded (excommunicated?) by a Georgetown dean for distributing photocopied materials in one of my classes, which included non-copyrighted speeches by American presidents (Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman). … Yep, somehow it has something to do with copyright laws.

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Adjunct Instructors’ Outlook on Full-Time Employment http://www.adjunctnation.com/2016/01/08/adjunct-instructors-outlook-on-full-time-employment/ http://www.adjunctnation.com/2016/01/08/adjunct-instructors-outlook-on-full-time-employment/#comments Fri, 08 Jan 2016 21:36:21 +0000 http://www.adjunctnation.com/?p=6438 by Tami Strang

If you’ve been following education news lately, you’ve probably read at least one article that discusses the struggles that many adjunct instructors are having as they seek full-time employment at colleges and universities. Though many can find work as adjuncts, the prospects for full-time, permanent positions are not as bright.

In our Spring 2015 Instructor Engagement Insights survey, we asked adjunct instructors to share their thoughts and experiences on a number of topics. Among these questions, we asked them to share their personal perspective on the important issue of full-time employment opportunities.

Below, we explore what they had to say. We also offer some quick tips to adjuncts who are looking to pursue full-time employment in higher education.

Do Most Adjunct Instructors Want a Full-Time Position?

We asked our audience of adjunct instructors: “Do you want a full-time position?” Slightly more than half (56%) said “yes,” and 44% said “no.”

full_.time_.job_.cengage.learning1

Do these numbers surprise you? You might initially assume that more of the adjuncts would want to hold a more permanent position at a college or university. (If you’re looking for a job and experiencing the competitive employment market, it might feel like the number is 100% “yes”!) However, when you consider that many adjunct instructors’ primary employment is in a different professional field (such as nursing or law), then the results become clearer.

Of course, adjuncts who want full-time, permanent roles at a college or university may or may not be optimistic about actually being hired for one anytime soon. We also set out to learn their take on this important, second question.

Do adjunct instructors believe a full-time job is on the horizon?

As noted above, more than half of our surveyed adjuncts want full-time work. But do they believe that they’ll find some in the near term? As a follow-up, we asked: “Do you think you’ll have a full-time job in the next five years?”

Of all adjuncts, only 32% said that yes, they believe they’d have a permanent position within that time frame.

However, among those adjuncts who specifically said they want a full-time job, the results split neatly down the middle, with 50% of them saying yes, and 50% saying “no.”

Looking at all the numbers taken together, about 28% of our adjunct respondents want a full-time job and believe that they’ll have one by 2020. Though this is a minority of our respondents, it still represents a fairly significant portion of instructors.

job_.outlook

Those who are seeking jobs (including those less confident about their prospects) may find themselves wondering: what can I do to improve my prospects (besides teaching at the top of my game)? Below, we’ve shared a few tips that may help along  the way.

Tips for adjunct instructors on the career path

1. Find a mentor. Whether it’s your first time teaching a college course, or you’re hoping to take the next steps in your career, it can help to have the support of someone who’s been in your shoes. Meet with a colleague for lunch or coffee to get their perspective on working as a full-time instructor. In addition to gaining insights from their experiences, your discussions may open your eyes to points you hadn’t considered or opportunities you hadn’t yet explored. (Not sure where to begin? Read our tips on finding a great mentor.)

2. Seek out faculty-development opportunities. Never stop learning! If you’re given an opportunity to participate in a professional development activity or workshop, take it. Better yet, seek those opportunities out. Not only will you learn skills you can put into practice today, you’ll better prepare yourself for future positions. What’s more, others will recognize the effort that you’ve put into developing your skills as an instructors.

Many colleges include training and professional-development activities and funding as part of adjunct instructors’ benefits. Talk to someone in your department or at your school to find out if this is true for you.

Wondering whether you should take a session online or in person? Both have their benefits. Online sessions give you the flexibility to attend at a location (and time) that’s convenient for you. However, at an in-person session, you have the chance to make those face-to-face connections that can prove beneficial when you’re working to expand your network of colleagues.

Looking for a place to start? TeamUP, Cengage Learning’s peer-to-peer faculty development group, a variety of live and on-demand professional development resources for educators. They’re also offering a virtual mini-conference, “Wired & Inspired! The Intelligent Use of Technology in Higher Education,” on Friday, August 14, 2015. Learn more about “Wired and Inspired” and register today!

3. Build skills that set you apart. Stay aware of the teaching trends in your field or discipline, and put them to use in a way that makes sense for your class. Become proficient with a number of edtech tools. Build an app. Try out the flipped-classroom model. Do whatever you can to develop the skills and traits that show you can deliver a fresh, timely, and student-centered learning experience.

4. Polish your social-media profiles. By building a thoughtful, articulate, and creative presence on key social media sites, you’ll develop an appealing, professional online appearance that will give others a (literal or figurative) picture of your strengths.

For job seekers, a complete and up-to-date LinkedIn profile is critical. You’ll want to ensure that yours adequately and accurately reflects your experience. For tips, read LinkedIn expert Ron Nash’s post on “Taking the Mystery out of LinkedIn for Educators.”

You might also consider sharing insights on Twitter that are relevant to teaching, learning, and your field of choice. If you develop a strong following and people begin to re-tweet you, this may help with your name recognition among others in your discipline.

Even Instagram can contribute to your professional presence online. Depending on your areas of interest or expertise, you might show photos of places you’ve explored, projects you’ve completed, or works of art that you’ve created.

To find additional ideas for using social media in ways that can benefit you professionally, read our previous post: “Social Networking as a Solution, Not a Distraction.” And, for important points about maintaining a professional presence online, review “Know Your ‘Online Brand.’

5. Don’t give up! There’s no denying that, for adjuncts (and others in highly competitive fields), the path to full-time employment can be long and difficult. You may face limited opportunities, lots of competition, raised (and dashed) hopes, and several rounds of rejection before you reach your ultimate goal. But if your true passion lies in teaching and the academic life, and you’re developing the skills and knowledge needed by a successful professional in your field, then stay the course. You may need to be “creative” in the opportunities you take, and you may have to broaden the scope of your search, but persistence is a strong part of preparation for the ultimate achievement of your goals.

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Back to School http://www.adjunctnation.com/2014/04/30/back-to-school/ http://www.adjunctnation.com/2014/04/30/back-to-school/#comments Wed, 30 Apr 2014 15:00:35 +0000 http://www.adjunctnation.com/?p=3993 By Melissa Miller, Ed.D., M.Ed.

Ask, and you shall receive! Awhile back I wrote a blog about my desire to become a student again. Oh, how I missed the back-to-school feeling, the excitement of the new syllabus and mapping out the course assignments. Well, fate has struck and I am enrolled in a Post-Master’s Certificate program at the request of the University where I teach. It is a specialization I am seeking, and they offered to foot the bill, so how could I say no?

For starters, I forgot the joys of registration. Registrar: “We need your transcripts.” Me: “Here are my most recent trancripts from my doctorate degree.” Registrar: “No, this is a Post-Master’s Program, so we need your Master’s Degree transcripts.” Me: “What have I gotten myself into?”

I forgot the joys of writing papers. Maybe I am getting old, maybe I am tired, or maybe I have just reached the end of the road as an official student. But this time, going back has been hard! I was an eager, excited student – now I find myself putting off papers until the last minute, dreading reading the assigned chapters, all the while asking myself what is wrong with me? Why did I used to love this? Where did my passion go? Is it because I’ve seen behind the curtain at Oz? Or am I just comfortable in the role of the teacher and less so as the student? There are actually other professors in this class with me, and several have remarked that they feel the same way! Why do we struggle to learn new things as we get older? Am I really an old dog? When I was working on my doctorate, I was somewhat young, and I was finshing up my dissertation when pregnant. Everyone said to me, “Do it now, while you’re young!” and I kind of laughed it off. Now I would swear by it. I honestly don’t know if I could take that on again!

I still love learning, of course. I just think I’ve reached that point where I just want to do it on my own time, at my own pace. But, there is something to be said for being pushed, like in a class, because otherwise, we would not be pushing ourselves. So I know the value of the courses – maybe I am just feeling lazy? Can that be it? No!

Have you gone back to school as an Adjunct? Do you find it easier or harder once you have been teaching? I thought I would be excited and eager, and I am really just feeling de-motivated and overwhelmed. How do you manage teaching and learning?

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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Newsflash to the Older Women of the Local College: “You’re a Very Tangible Part of the Problem.” http://www.adjunctnation.com/2013/02/16/newsflash-to-the-older-women-of-the-local-college-you%e2%80%99re-a-very-tangible-part-of-the-problem/ http://www.adjunctnation.com/2013/02/16/newsflash-to-the-older-women-of-the-local-college-you%e2%80%99re-a-very-tangible-part-of-the-problem/#comments Sat, 16 Feb 2013 15:10:20 +0000 http://www.adjunctnation.com/?p=5020 by Sandra Keifer

I can say this because I’m one of you. Here is a newsflash to the older women of the local college adjunct faculty—you who are supported by engineer husbands and teeter precariously on the high wire of self-esteem, eternally grateful that any local college would hire you:

Not only do you fail to be part of the solution, but you’re a very tangible part of the problem.

You’ve “got yours” already, and while your spouse may chide you (as a parent would a child) that you’re giving away your labor for pennies, you love that warm feeling teaching gives you. You fool yourself daily, telling yourself that your work is above the market, above the value of money. You may even be smart enough to realize that the administrators at your school are skimming the fruits of your labor as deftly as any Koch brother, but you don’t like to dwell on those thoughts. They make you feel uncomfortable.

Those thoughts may even tear down some of the feelings of smugness and beneficence that fill your giant heart, and here is another thought—a very new one, in your world—that may disturb your false sense of magnanimity:

You are hurting young teachers.

Your willingness to work for minimum wage (or less, pursuant to your own confessions) only helps the administration, populated by men (mostly) who are making six figures and enjoy security on a level that may surpass even that of your employed spouse. The college is betting that people like you will continue to swell its ranks, propping up the decades-old system that devalues education and pads their own futures. Administrators are betting that you will chide rabble-rousing young adjuncts who want better pay and benefits because we can barely pay our rent; they are hoping that you will refuse to participate in any scheme that could lead to something that resembles pay and benefit equity with full-timers.

photoThey are praying you will turn that iron cheek, Maggie, and tell the younger adjuncts to sit down and work harder because, in your heart of hearts, you selfishly believe that if teaching paid better, more qualified people would vie for your job and take it from you—and you may be right. Is this, however, what is best for students? Do you consider this fact when you tell yourself that you always have the students’ best interests in mind, or have you rationalized your ethical egoism, Ayn Rand?

Yes, older women of the local college adjunct faculty, keep telling yourself that your work is sacred, unrelated to money, and focused on the future of our community. Don’t worry about what is really best for students or young teachers. You’ve got yours; we’ll just have to find our own way.

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Questionable Professionalism & New Adjuncts — Drawing the Line http://www.adjunctnation.com/2012/01/30/questionable-professionalism-new-adjuncts-%e2%80%94-drawing-the-line/ http://www.adjunctnation.com/2012/01/30/questionable-professionalism-new-adjuncts-%e2%80%94-drawing-the-line/#comments Mon, 30 Jan 2012 21:50:43 +0000 http://www.adjunctnation.com/?p=3993 millerBy Melissa Miller, Ed.D., M.Ed.

True headline: “Campus Shock: Michigan Professor Actually Takes Nude Pictures…With Student.”

Wow. Just wow. Seriously? Where do I begin? When you first read that headline, since you are most likely an educator, don’t you say to yourself, “Ugh, I would never do that!”? I think of myself in this situation and cringe. Are you kidding me? I don’t want my students to see me without makeup and a brush through my hair, let alone naked! And, no offense to the beautiful form that is the human body, I don’t want to see my students naked either. Do you? I’m not a prude or squeamish about the naked body. But this doesn’t freak me out because of the nudity, but the fact that it is a professor and (former) student!

I was not an art major, so my appreciation of what is good art is limited to instinct and common sense, not scholarly study. I know art and beauty are in the eye of the beholder, and people have a wide variety of tastes. My art history knowledge is limited to undergraduate humanities courses, and I get, in the broad sense, that this is art to the professor (and the models), and he is pushing boundaries, expectations, definitions, preconceived notions, blah, blah, blah. Okay. But even I, with my limited knowledge but lots of common sense, know this is odd. But I guess that is the point. However, just because it is different doesn’t mean it is good. Even if I just saw these pictures and didn’t know it was the professor and a former student/colleague/etc., they strike me as awkward.

These photos seem to blur the line of professional standards and self-promotion. When you were in college, did you want to take nude or semi-nude pictures with your professor? I’m sure some view the experience as a learning tool, self-discovery, etc… — but I think it lowers our standards as professionals. When dealing with students, I often informally apply a rule to myself – would I want someone talking to/dealing with/treating my daughter this way? We are in a position of authority that should not be squandered or taken advantage of. If this were my daughter, I would be livid. I know, they are of age and consenting adults. Seriously, though? What is the professional standard, here? If we say it is in the name of art, does anything go?

Aside from the pictures themselves, this article led me to really think about the relationship between student and professor, even former students. As a New Adjunct, can you imagine making a name for yourself on campus with this photo shoot? What about the fact that this is a male professor? If I did this (as a female), there may be a different response from the general public, but professionally, I might have more to lose. Aren’t we responsible to set a high standard for our professional relationships? It seems the line is very blurred here. We are in a position of trust, and New Adjuncts particularly have a vulnerability as well. How would you feel about your doctor or medical resident posing nude and semi-nude (or even fully-clothed!) with patients and former patients? Yes, they are of age, but is it right? What about the professional standards? It seems to be taking advantage of the position of authority, mentor, and teacher.

What are your thoughts? “Say cheese!”

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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Are Your Students Prepared For College When They Get To Class? http://www.adjunctnation.com/2011/12/22/are-your-students-prepared-for-college-when-they-get-to-class/ http://www.adjunctnation.com/2011/12/22/are-your-students-prepared-for-college-when-they-get-to-class/#comments Thu, 22 Dec 2011 11:00:39 +0000 http://www.adjunctnation.com/?p=3993 By Melissa Miller, Ed.D., M.Ed.

Are your students prepared for your class when they walk through your door?

I read an interesting article about the preparedness (or lack thereof) of many college students for what awaits them in higher education. The New York Times article tell us that “the new statistics, part of a push to realign state standards with college performance, show that only 23 percent of students in New York City graduated ready for college or careers in 2009, not counting special-education students.”

Okay, but who decides what is “college-ready?” What is the standard of measure?

Asked and answered — sort of: “State and city education officals have known for years that graduating from a public high school does not indicate that a student is ready for college, and have been slowly moving to raise standards.”

But this begs several questions: Does raising standards correlate with college success? What exactly is “ready for college”? Does it depend on the course of study? The college? What is the scientific correlation between high school scores and college success? Can it even be measured – what about other factors such as maturity, motivation, personal situations, etc.?

So, I ask you: Are your students ready for college? Are they ready for your class in particular? Do you find any trends amongst successful students versus students who don’t seem “college-ready?”

Anecdotally, I’d like to note that some of the smartest people I know did not do well in high school. Additionally, many peers in college had average grades yet are now successful in their fields. I’m sure we all have friends like this who might have been late bloomers. So I argue that high school performance might not be the best indicator of college success (and some might argue that it hinders college success through teaching to the tests and not teaching critical thinking skills).

Is this article a surprise? Part of me wonders how prepared you can even be for college. I was successful in high school but there was still a very steep learning curve for the academic collegiate world. In the sink or swim environment of college, how ready can one be? Much like when you leave college for your first job, you might have the skills or knowledge but you still have to adjust and adapt to the new environment. How on the hook for this preparedness should high schools be? Upper level courses, with prerequisites, might show that students have mastered the previous material, but similarly to the argument above, it doesn’t always translate into success into your upper-level course.

I am a former elementary school teacher and I often worked with “school readiness” programs. In some ways it was the same mismatched formula. We would assess and work with preschoolers to get them ready for Kindergarten, but there were so many variables (parental involvement, home life, developmental readiness, maturity, etc.) that it was like Wack-A-Mole – focus on one area and another pops up. You can isolate some areas to work on, but there is no cut and dry formula for school readiness. I found these programs often were reactionary, vague, and one-size-fits all, and we know how successful that makes an educational initiative!

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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Ever Miss Being The Student? http://www.adjunctnation.com/2011/11/17/ever-miss-being-the-student/ http://www.adjunctnation.com/2011/11/17/ever-miss-being-the-student/#comments Thu, 17 Nov 2011 19:08:34 +0000 http://www.adjunctnation.com/?p=3993 MillerBy Melissa Miller, Ed.D., M.Ed.

Do you ever miss being a student? I don’t mean a student of the world, or a life-long learner, as those of us in education tend to be. I don’t mean the Chris Farley in Tommy Boy or Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School type either. I mean a student, either on-line or a traditional campus, who is taking a course for credit or a grade. Occasionally, I miss being in the role of the student. Thinking back, it was definitely more passive as an undergrad than my current role as professor. Even if you are engaged in your learning, as I was, you still have that sense of passivity, rather than productivity. I miss sitting back and having someone I respected and admired impart and share their knowledge with me. What a gift! How great to sit in class and have someone share their insights, thoughts, and questions. Someone to make you think! Someone else did most of the work! It seems like a vacation when you look at it from the other side of the relationship. It is definitely my nerdy side coming through – I still get excited about back to school time! I like to be a student whenever I can, reading, attending local lectures, asking questions of people I respect, and I am always on the lookout for opportunities to learn from others.

I wonder if I am possibly a more effective teacher because I enjoy being a student? Are they related? Sometimes I find myself not being able to relate to my students who don’t seem to want to be in class. Luckily, I don’t have too many students like that. I try to share my passion for learning while understanding that, for many of my students in particular, going back to school can be an anxious and overwhelming time.

The idea of the Forever Student is not new. We all know of the cliched graduate student teaching assistant on campus who is always working on project or paper, or changing majors frequently. Nobody wants to be that guy (except that guy) because you feel like he (or she) needs to move on to their “real” life. But what is real life? I have been out into the “real” world and was drawn back to academia as my career. There are things I do miss about being a student. Besides what I discussed above, I miss the freedom, the youth, the feeling that the world is your oyster. With that said, I don’t miss the student loans, ramen noodles, the Laundromat, or the unsure feeling that although the world was my oyster, I had no real idea of what was in store. Did you know there is even a Facebook page for these students? It’s titled, “I want to be a student forever…”. Wikipedia also has an entry for the Perpetual Student phenomonon.

I suppose one reason I was drawn to the field of education was my love of both roles, student and teacher. One of the best things about my job is I can indulge my “nerdy” side while earning a living! I get paid to research and learn, and to share my knowledge with others. It’s quite a gig! But, if I could figure out a way to get paid to attend classes forever, that would be a real bonus!

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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For Adjuncts Life Can Be Tough, But Let’s Accentuate the Positive http://www.adjunctnation.com/2011/10/18/for-adjuncts-life-can-be-tough-but-lets-accentuate-the-positive/ http://www.adjunctnation.com/2011/10/18/for-adjuncts-life-can-be-tough-but-lets-accentuate-the-positive/#comments Tue, 18 Oct 2011 15:32:14 +0000 http://www.adjunctnation.com/?p=3993 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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When the Prof Misses Being the Student http://www.adjunctnation.com/2011/10/13/when-the-prof-misses-being-the-student/ http://www.adjunctnation.com/2011/10/13/when-the-prof-misses-being-the-student/#comments Thu, 13 Oct 2011 15:45:53 +0000 http://www.adjunctnation.com/?p=3993 photoBy Melissa Miller, Ed.D., M.Ed.

Do you ever miss being a student? I don’t mean a student of the world, or a life-long learner, as those of us in education tend to be. I don’t mean the Chris Farley in Tommy Boy or Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School type either. I mean a student, either on-line or a traditional campus, who is taking a course for credit or a grade. Occasionally, I miss being in the role of the student. Thinking back, it was definitely more passive as an undergrad than my current role as professor. Even if you are engaged in your learning, as I was, you still have that sense of passivity, rather than productivity. I miss sitting back and having someone I respected and admired impart and share their knowledge with me. What a gift! How great to sit in class and have someone share their insights, thoughts, and questions. Someone to make you think! Someone else did most of the work! It seems like a vacation when you look at it from the other side of the relationship. It is definitely my nerdy side coming through – I still get excited about back to school time! I like to be a student whenever I can, reading, attending local lectures, asking questions of people I respect, and I am always on the lookout for opportunities to learn from others.

I wonder if I am possibly a more effective teacher because I enjoy being a student? Are they related? Sometimes I find myself not being able to relate to my students who don’t seem to want to be in class. Luckily, I don’t have too many students like that. I try to share my passion for learning while understanding that, for many of my students in particular, going back to school can be an anxious and overwhelming time.

The idea of the Forever Student is not new. We all know of the cliched graduate student teaching assistant on campus who is always working on project or paper, or changing majors frequently. Nobody wants to be that guy (except that guy) because you feel like he (or she) needs to move on to their “real” life. But what is real life? I have been out into the “real” world and was drawn back to academia as my career. There are things I do miss about being a student. Besides what I discussed above, I miss the freedom, the youth, the feeling that the world is your oyster. With that said, I don’t miss the student loans, ramen noodles, the Laundromat, or the unsure feeling that although the world was my oyster, I had no real idea of what was in store. Did you know there is even a Facebook page for these students? It’s titled, “I want to be a student forever…”.

I suppose one reason I was drawn to the field of education was my love of both roles, student and teacher. One of the best things about my job is I can indulge my “nerdy” side while earning a living! I get paid to research and learn, and to share my knowledge with others. It’s quite a gig! But, if I could figure out a way to get paid to attend classes forever, that would be a real bonus!

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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Is Google Destroying Higher Education? http://www.adjunctnation.com/2011/09/26/is-google-destroying-higher-education/ http://www.adjunctnation.com/2011/09/26/is-google-destroying-higher-education/#comments Mon, 26 Sep 2011 18:25:51 +0000 http://www.adjunctnation.com/?p=3993 melissaBy Melissa Miller, Ed.D., M.Ed.

I just read a great book. It’s titled, “The Googlization of Everything,” by Siva Vaidhyanathan and it discusses the impacts of Google technology on our world. Of particular interest to me were the chapters about the impact of Google on higher education, students, and scholarship. The book focuses on both positive and negative impacts of this phenomenon that have changed the way we think and behave when searching. (Intesrestingly, as I was writing this blog, I saw on the news how Congress is currently holding hearings with the Google executives about the effects of their power and dominance.)

After reading this book, I thought about the impact of Google on my teaching and student learning. I have noted behavioral changes in the way students approach information. In some aspects, this is positive – students feel confident they can find the answer to any question within seconds. For social and personal aspects, this is great. Information at our fingertips – how could that be bad? Well, I don’t think it is unless we are talking about scholarly or academic research. I’m finding students think they can simply ask Google anything and the results serve as appropriate for the classroom or writing. I ask: When did researching become searching?

How many of our students simply rely on Google instead of learning the information themselves? (Why memorize or absorb the material when I can look it up nearly as quickly?) How many use it as their main search tool, versus a school library or scholarly journal database? Conversely, how many of us use Google to quickly and easily determine sources of possible plagiarism? The very technology they are relying on to make their lives easier makes it easier for us to catch them in the act! Vaidhyantthan summarizes: “the notions of ‘library’ and ‘Internet’ have merged significantly for university students in the United States.” This is not necessarily a bad thing, per se, but it does impact the way we teach. In a personal context, how often to we say, “I’ll Google it!”? Quite a bit. But professionally, I don’t rely on Google, unless I am chasing down the aforementioned plagiarism case, and it is important students understand this difference.

One course I teach involves students to research and synthesize information using outside support. Term after term, my students struggle with this. They have difficulty blending their analysis with outside support. Before we even get to that stage, however, I have found students have trouble with the basic research part of the assignment. I now devote at least one class session to how to use the school library and online databases to effectively search for information. (First we have to define what constitutes a scholarly article, peer-reviewed journal, etc.) Students are often impatient when the article or information does not simply pop up for them immediately (as in a Google search). They tend to click only on the top search returns, and then are easily frustrated when more work is involved. I teach them to sift through the information, to be detectives digging through the heap of results. It can be painful, as they are accustomed to a quick and easy return.

After thinking about all of this, a new personal teaching objective I have is to try to blend students’ familiarity and comfort with Google with teaching them how to apply their own filters to information, thus learning how to be discerning Google users.

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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