Starting A New Relationship (With A New Textbook)


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

Things have been going along fairly smoothly. I’ve started to feel that I am (for the most part) one step ahead of the game in terms of preparation, organization, and planning. I’m teaching courses I’ve previously taught, so I’m not spending time reinventing the wheel — and this has opened up time for me to be on top of other issues. I should have known, however, that this confidence and (relatively) smooth sailing was too good to be true. I just received some of the worst news a New Adjunct can hear (not the pink slip news): a course textbook is no longer in publication!

This blind sided me. I’m a planner, and I plan to plan. But this was completely off of my radar as a possibility. I had no idea how dependent on this text I was until I found out it was being taken away. I reacted like my three-year-old does when told, “No!”

At first, I didn’t panic because I figured there certainly would be a digital copy available. This is the age of the Internet, right? Plus, an e-book would be eco-friendly and save on shipping costs — a win-win. The digital book is not available. I toyed with the idea of scanning the pages myself, but no such luck thanks to copyright permissions the publisher doesn’t even have. So the answer was clear — I had to select a new textbook for my course.

This is easier said than done. In education, we like to keep things current, fresh, use the latest methods and research, etc., but sometimes a classic is a classic for a reason. The methods and skills taught in this textobok were tried and true, like a comfortable, worn-in sweater. How many classic texts are being under-utilized because of copyright or technological issues? Isn’t there room for the well-loved sweater in a closet of this year’s fashions?

So the problem landed in my lap and I wasn’t sure what to do. Luckily, I had some guidance. First, I had to assess the damage. The impact was moderate, as this is not the only text used, but this book provided explicit information that would be difficult to replicate. Then, I had to think about the short-term soluations for the immediate upcoming term. The long-term solution involved researching, getting approval, ordering, etc., a new textbook.

I put out the fire and found short-term solutions, and am now looking at the long-term picture. Choosing y new textbook is a lot like shopping for a new car. There are more modern cars with neat features, but I miss the familiarity and reliability of what I had! Yes, I’m uncomfortable with this change, this curveball thrown my way. Normally, change motivates me, but in this case, I desperately want to cling to the old and familiar. Why? For one reason, using the old textbook is easier. This change has a ripple effect that changes other aspects of the course. Secondly, as a New Adjunct, I feel as though I’ve just begun getting my bearings with certain aspects of this career, and – bam! — the rug is pulled out from underneath my feet. However, I’m trying to embrace the change and look at this as the proverbial window-being-opened. Maybe I will find something even better than the beloved, but replaced, text.

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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