Following Up on the Adjunct Conference

At the risk of beating a dead one day conference into the ground, I want to touch on some of the results of the one day conference on teaching writing (at one of the schools I teach for as an adjunct, Baker College) that I recently attended.

There have been four results that I can see, two of which are directly related to the intersection of adjuncts and writing.

The first result is official: there are follow up emails, acknowledgements, inquiries about expense reports, etc. This is mostly housekeeping, but since one of the mailings was a certificate that goes in our files, it was a little more than that. Baker is tracking which adjuncts take part in these professional development activities (and we’ve been told, informally but repeatedly, doing so will make future employment steadier, and full-time employment more likely).

The second result is interpersonal: there have been a number of faculty-to-faculty emails sent around, as well as emails from various administrators. Those from administrators might be attributed to formal management speak (“We’d like to thank you for attending our recent…”), but the peer-peer emails are lively, casual, and friendly (more so than before the conference). I count this as a sign of community being built.

The third result is institutional, or rather, relates to engaging adjuncts with institutional standards. Readers will recall the conference focused on raising and standardizing grading practices through using rubrics to grade papers. A new class session has started since the conference. I can testify that I’m evaluating both my assignments to students and their work in terms of this rubric and the thinking behind it. I’m developing more examples of different levels of writing performance (as in, “Here is are A, B, C, D, and F level examples of thesis statements”), I’m articulating the differences among levels, and I’m trying to align my evaluation with these standards.

The fourth result is relates to engagement with pedagogy. New freshman composition courses have been implemented since the conference. There is more discussion of what works and what does, and faculty are sharing more, than there was before the conference. I count this as a victory for writing pedagogy, especially since the conference was not about these courses.

Was the conference expensive? Without a doubt. However, if you really want your adjuncts to a) feel wanted, b) feel like part of a community, and c) change how they are teaching, it worked.

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