Teaching at Two Schools: Fatal Attraction?

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millerBy Melissa Miller, Ed.D., M.Ed.

AdjunctNation.com has a wonderful blog, The Freeway Flyer, written by Helene Matheny, who writes about teaching at multiple campuses (among other things). I enjoy reading Helene’s blog because as a new adjunct, I do this on a small scale—I teach at two institutions. I want to talk about how this subject affects a New Adjunct, because, as a new professor, this is yet another ball in the air of this juggling act I call teaching.

Reading Helene’s blog gives me hope, because I read about others who face similar challenges, and it also is alarming because it appears these struggles don’t really change! I believe a New Adjunct has a different perspective, because as a new professor, I am still building my bag of tricks. Teaching at two schools adds another challenge for a newbie.

Sometimes I feel as though I am having an affair, and I have ot keep my stories straight from one school to the other. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not doing anything sinful, but what I mean is, I almost have to live two lives to keep my duties straight! There are no bunnies to be boiled or anything so severe (uck!), but I make the comparision to a secret life because there are sets of rules and guidelines at each school and I find myself having to remember which “partner” I am with.

Some schools have very specific requirements about student feedback. I happen to work at two schools that have different philosopies about evaluative and formative assessments, so I have to keep this in mind at all times. There are policy procedures to keep in mind, such as grading software, attendance policies, and differences in the chain of command. There are differences in paper formatting, referral procedures, using resources from the school, professional development — the list grows as I settle in. I had to make myself a cheat sheet of acronyms, passwords, phone numbers, e-mails, websites, and FAQs, lest I embarrass myself by asking one school a question which clearly does not apply to that University.

There are joys to teaching at two schools, however. No there is no thrill of the sneaking around, and it is not an emotional affair. Hardly! If anything it can be emotionally exhaisting. But it is great to be exposed to different styles of evaluation, management, and school climates. Schools have different missions, student populations, course offerings, and it’s exciting to be learning so much at two different schools. It is also nice to have variety in life. Especially when, all kidding aside, my personal life is far from the high drama of Glenn Close and Michael Douglass’s passionate affair. I am quite content with my calm domestic life, leaving the excitement to be found at either campus.

Do any veteran professors have advice or stories for a New Adjunct Freeway Flyer?

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 role as a wife and mother.

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Melissa,
    I just caught up on reading some of the other blogs and came across your entry – I’m blushing!! Thank you very much and I have also always enjoyed reading yours as well! Adjunct teaching is one of those things that no one can teach you, it grows and evolves into a natural extension over the years. I’ve been at it for ten years now and even this semester just noticed a new “groove” and level of comfort with my subject. Writing your blog shows your dedication to your craft and I am sure your are, and will become even more of a wonderful instructor! Best wishes!

  2. Hi Melissa,

    I love your blog and learning from your new experience as an adjunct instructor. Currently I have 1 yr left to finish my MHA and plan on getting a post masters in adult ed. I have been in the healthcare industry for over 15 yrs and my goal is to be an adjunct instructor online and at local community colleges when I graduate. Reading your blog gives me an insight to what your professional career brings to your life. Do you have an suggestions for me as I strive to be an instructor.
    Thanks

    Melissa Jones

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