Scheduling Classes and Learning to Cry on the Inside

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LanceBy Lance Eaton

“I’m sorry, I can’t teach that class.”  Now, I say this in a calm and mature tone.  But in my head, I’m screaming, kicking, and pouting like the five-year-old I know. I really am.  Recently, I was offered the chance to teach a course at a college I hadn’t taught at yet.  It was not the standard introductory course many adjuncts are stuck with after full-time faculty choose the crème-de-la-crème; it was one within my specialty.

This is the head-banging moment for us Freeway Flyers.  As I cobble together a living semester-to-semester, I am always keeping my eyes open for new teaching possibilities—fully aware of how disposable adjuncts are at most colleges.  So when a school comes calling for me because they saw my CV, and want me to teach a special course, it’s hitting the lottery. Saying “no” to the opportunity is like saying, “It’s ok, I played the lottery and won, but no, thanks, I don’t actually want the money.”

The only shining light is that it’s not the first time, and will probably not be the last time, someone will cold-called me for a teaching gig.  I just hope the next it happens it won’t be five days after I had just agreed to teach a course of less value for me pedagogically and financially offered at the same time.

The juggling of courses semester-to-semester is certainly a challenge—even an art.  Trying to align the stars in a perfect array that doesn’t necessitate cloning technology can be vexing.  However, I get a tremendous sense of achievement from the arrangement of such complicated schedules before the semester begins. A well-tuned schedule evokes a satisfied sigh that says, “I can still make Freeway Flying work for me.” On the other hand, moments like this one—the class that got away—come along that feel like failures, lost potential.  I would have liked to have taught that course and opened up possibility of teaching at that school.

To cover my bases and hope for future possibilities, I followed up the telephone conversation with a “thank you for considering me” note and an updated CV. Just in case.

While writing this entry, I got an email from a college where I teach. Selections for summer classes are here, and I’ve been offered one—a course that overlaps another possible commitment.

Here, we go again.

About the Freeway Flyer: Lance Eaton has a Master’s Degree in American Studies from the University of Massachusetts in Boston where he focused primarily on Popular Culture and Gender/Sexuality studies. He also has a Master’s in Public Administration from Suffolk University, where his concentration was on nonprofit organizations. He teaches at several schools in the Greater Boston area including Emerson College, University of Massachusetts at Lowell, and North Shore Community College. He’s professionally written and presented on topics such as comics, zombies, audiobooks, and adaptation. He also keeps a running blog with his students at http://hitchhikingadjunct.blogspot.com. When not flying from school-to-school, he also enjoys reading comics, cycling, gardening and cooking.

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