Getting Connected, Staying In Touch and Dodging Booby Traps

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leskoBy P.D. Lesko

Last week, we launched our Facebook page and linked all of our Nation Blogs to Twitter. Whew! It’s fun to watch the number of people who “like” the AdjunctNation.com Facebook page grow. In the first week, 114 people found us and enjoyed the content enough to “like” the page. We’re averaging about 21 new “likes” per day. On Twitter, sign-up has been slower. We’re still hovering below 100 followers on Twitter, and I wonder if it has something to do with the demographics of the average Twitter user being somewhat different than the demographics of the average AdjunctNation.com visitor. Not to brag, but AdjunctNation.com has a very educated and somewhat older (and, I like to think, wiser) audience. Not surprisingly, those AdjunctNation.com visitors who teach online have been very enthusiastic about the new ways to keep up with what’s happening on the site, and the new ways to connect with other faculty off the tenure-track. I’m hoping that within the next six or eight months, AdjunctNation.com becomes the largest online community page for adjunct faculty, just as the web site is the destination for faculty off the tenure-track. 

As I wrote in a previous entry, and posted to our Facebook page, I still looking for a few good bloggers. Ron Tinsley answered the call, and I liked his sample piece so much, I posted it to our Adjunct By Choice blog. His entry is titled, “Rescuing Yourself From The Technology Booby Trap.” Ron writes:

But what are the pitfalls of being totally and constantly wired?

Indeed! I am sitting here writing this blog entry on a Saturday morning in my office at home. I’ve had breakfast, taken the dog for his morning walk in the woods, my eldest son is listening to music and working on his brother’s Halloween costume. Yet, here I sit, at work remotely, wired, and ready to go. Ask me about the pitfalls of being totally wired, and be prepared for a longish dissertation on the subject. At the moment, I am agonizing over which new cell phone to get. Do I get one with a data plan, so I can access the Internet and social media from my phone, or do I stick with the kind of phone I have now, that allows texting, but does not provide an easy entry-ramp onto the digital highway? 

I know what my kids want me to get: the iPhone. They are desperate for me to have one, more desperate than I am, to tell the truth. They forward me emails about it, and when I am online and available for Instant Messenging, I get pokes and prods to check out the iPhone 4. My kids don’t have iPhones, mind you. They have the kind of phone I have at the moment, a utilitarian phone. The iPhone, I think, might just be a bit outside my technological comfort zone. Speaking of comfort zones, in her blog The New Adjunct, Melissa Miller posted an entry titled “Teaching Outside of Your Comfort Zone.” I can’t think of anyone I know who teaches part-time who has not taught outside of her/his comfort zone. For me, it was a Children’s Literature course taught after, literally, years of teaching American Literature. The Department Chair asked if I thought I might like to teach the course, and I said that I thought it would be fun. It was nerve-racking. Melissa writes in her entry,

It can be difficult to match the perfect course with the perfect professor. It’s like pedagogical dating, where you have to sample several courses before settling in with the perfect course mate. But even then, you have to grow and be flexible with your partner. Are you going to want to teach that course forever? What happens when you are ready to move on to something new, maybe an upper-level course, maybe a new methods class? Perhaps a silver lining to being assigned a course you didn’t think you wanted is that it opens up new paths you wouldn’t have previously considered.

In the case of my Children’s Lit. class, I can’t say that it opened up any new paths. I was never so glad for a course to finish up as I was for that one so that I could go back to teaching World Literature and American Literature. Somehow, I felt more comfortable teaching Anna Karenina and Eudora Welty than I did trying to muddle through the meaning of children’s books. Our resident mentor, Dr. Bruce A. Johnson, might have advised me that I was slightly too anxious. In this week’s blog entry, in fact, he writes about how to avoid high anxiety in and out of the classroom with better time management. Bruce offers this very good bit of advice:

The development of a time management plan can help instructors deal with potential stress because they are prepared, pro-actively working on their facilitation duties, and have taken control over the use of their time. Another method of eliminating the potential for stress is to analyze daily energy levels and consider what time of day is best for being the most productive. K. J. Wagner recommends that instructors should “not try to accomplish difficult tasks when you are tired,” and to “save those for your peak periods.” For a busy adjunct instructor it is important to recognize potential sources of stress and work through those challenges by adjusting the weekly time management plan as needed.

You’ll notice a nice photo of Bruce on his blog, along with a short bio. Soon, you’ll be able to put a face with every blog and read bios of the folks who contribute regularly to the Nation Blogs. 

If you are on Twitter, click here to follow AdjunctNation there. You’ll get tweets when the newest blog posts go live, usually daily. AdjunctNation has also launched a Facebook Fan Page, as well. If you like the site, and are a Facebook user, visit our Facebook page to read more about our writers, readers, bloggers, contributors, content, and keep up-to-date with AdjunctNation.com as we keep up with you and higher education.

As always, thanks for stopping by AdjunctNation.com, and if you have questions, concerns, comments, suggestions or just want to say hello, drop me an email (pdl @ adjunctadvocate.com). I always love to hear from the members of the Adjunct Nation.

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