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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