By Jenny Ortiz
There isn’t a training course for being a Freeway Flyer. When I began teaching at three colleges, I had to learn things the hard way.
Keeping Hydrated: Like athletes, Freeway Flyers are constantly on the move. Whether it’s traveling to different campuses or delivering lecture-after-lecture, we are bodies in motion, as Sir Isaac Newton observed. Without proper hydration, fatigue sets in, especially in the evening. I drink Gatorade, hot tea, a juice smoothie, or plain water, and avoid coffee or soda.
Bathroom Breaks: I know I’m stating the obvious here, but I just have a feeling….Hydration necessitates, well, bathroom breaks. To teach a great lesson, I have to be calm and focused. I can’t teach if I’m standing there hopping on one leg. Moreover, focus is out of the question, if I’m upset or frazzled. The students feel this uneven energy. Like my fellow Freeway Flyers, I have a lot of commuting and a lot of paperwork, which leaves me tapped out. So, I take a ten minute break before jumping into the next class. When I do this, I take the time to do something that doesn’t involve mental activity.
Copies in Advance: Admit it. You go to school unprepared sometimes. Me, too. To make matters worse it seems as though any time I’m in a rush, the copy machine is broken or the person in front of me is copying an entire textbook (copyright, anyone?). I take time within the week for simply getting my paperwork ready in advance. It makes getting ready for class smoother and I have time to edit my lesson plans.
The Secretary Connection: Freeway Flyers aren’t always on campus when something important comes up. However, the secretary is and s/he is, without a doubt, the lifeline of the department. Without the secretary, the department would be in shambles. I get to know the secretaries, because if there’s a problem (say, with the copy machine), the secretary will help.
Name to the Face: If, like me, you teach 6 classes with 30 students each, we end up having to learn 180 names each semester. Start the class with students names already memorized. How? Many universities and colleges have two different types of electronic rosters available: a condensed version and a detailed version. Detailed rosters often include photos of the students. Printing it out and study it. Really. Study it.
Signing up for Faculty Workshops: Want to beef up your computer skills (yes, you do)? If your colleges offer faculty workshops throughout the semester, sign up. It’s a great way to network with my fellow adjuncts, score a free tuna fish sandwich, and a $100 dollar stipend. However, regardless of whether a stipend is offered or not, any skills, tips and suggestions I can get to run my classes more smoothly, is worth my time.
These tips are, of course, just the beginning! I hope AdjunctNation readers will share their own tips, hints and suggestions. What is the single most important tip you would like to share with fellow Freeway Flyers?
About the Freeway Flyer: Jenny Ortiz is a serious 23-year-old New Yorker, except when unicorns (specifically chubby unicorns) are involved. When she isn’t pleading with Kurt Sutter via Twitter to be her mentor, she is teaching at St. John’s University, Adelphi University, and LaGuardia Community College (see, quite serious). When she isn’t teaching, she’s hanging out with her friends showing off our earth and water bending skills (not serious, but super fun). When she is alone and it’s raining, she likes to read Haruki Murakami, or listen to the Broken Bells, and daydream. If you want to be a fan, you can read Jenny’s work on fictionatwork.com, Blink-ink.com, Jersey Devil Press, dogeatcrow.com, Eighty Percent Magazine and InkSpill Magazine…or you can follow her on Twitter at Twitter.com/jnylynn.