The New Adjunct Numbers: 15 Passwords, 7 Possible Plagiarists, 4 Department Meetings & More


millerBy Melissa Miller, Ed.D., M.Ed.
I was recently writing something that required quantitative analysis. Numbers are not my strong suit. I managed to do well in math classes in school, but it didn’t come easily or naturally to me – I’m more of a word person. My husband is a math person, and I’m a language girl, and this is one of the many ways in which we are well-suited for each other. So, for a new perspective into my daily work life, I started thinking about being a New Adjunct in terms of the numbers:
15 – The number of passwords, logins, and usernames I have to memorize. Oh, who are we kidding? I don’t memorize them – I have them all written down on a handy cheat sheet. This is one of the challenges of teaching at several schools. Everything is fine until I have to update the information with a new password!
7 – The average number of assignments per month I investigate for possible plagiarism. I’m not sure if this is average, but honestly, isn’t even one too many in higher education? It annoys me as a huge time waster!
20 – The average number of e-mails per day from students, faculty, department chairs, etc. Obviously, this number is higher (or lower) some days, but a good portion of my day is devoted to responding to e-mails. As I’m sure is the case in your classroom, many of these e-mails address the same information that I covered in class, and the other majority of them are excuses for late work. I’m actually happy when I receive a content-related question!
4 – The average number of faculty or department meetings I attend each month. Sometimes professional development is included in these meetings. I am fortuante to work for two schools that value and respect faculty time, and these meetings are always relevant and timely.
10 – The approximate number of late assignments I grade each week. I do allow late work to be turned in, but it is more time consuming than grading it with the assignments that were turned in on time!
3 – The average number of major revisions I make to lesson plans each week. I’m past the stage of having to reinvent everything from scratch and thankfully am now in the stage of just tweaking and revising!
225 – The average number of students I have taught thus far as a New Adjunct. With each class, I grow more confident and am able to push myself a little further in terms of teaching methods, technology, and lesson plan structures.
2- The average number of requests for letters of recommendation I receive each month. This is something I tell my students I am available for, and encourage them to ask me for assistance with things of this nature, even when class is ended.
60 – The average number of minutes I spend per week on what I call “CYA” documentation. This includes outreach to advisors, chasing late work, referrals to the Student Center, etc. Some schools require more than others in this area, and it can vary week-by-week, but a large amount of time is devoted to this type of “housekeeping.”
70 – The average number of minutes I am able to spend each week reading current research in my field, extra professional development, writing, etc. I am kind of embarassed this number is so low, but there is only so many minutes in a week!
100% – The amount I love my job! I really, truly feel so blessed to have my job(s), becuase I enjoy the work, my students, and most of all, teaching. I worked hard to get here, and now I am able to enjoy the fruits of my labor!
What do your numbers look like?
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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  1. Just a few suggestions —
    Regarding those emailed questions that have answers already covered in class. I have a standard answer to that:
    The answers to these questions were covered in class. If you missed class it is your responsibility to get notes from a classmate. (Note: I cover this in the syllabus.) It’s a good idea for every student to develop contacts with other class members in order to ensure you don’t miss anything when you are unable to attend. (Also stated in the syllabus.)
    College students are adults and they need to take responsibility for their own actions.
    But it can also be helpful to take advantage of a hybrid f2f/online, if that is an option. In that situation (only recently available), I would post my class notes online (while at the same time requiring attendance, with a few grace points for whatever reasons the student had to be absent).
    Explanations for lateness – again, I give grace points that students can use. It’s up to them to decide what excuses are suitable for using those. When those are gone, it’s tough luck. Either way, I don’t have to decide whether their reasons are valid.
    On content questions – yes, these are much more pleasant to deal with, but if you are using a hybrid format, students can pose those in the online classroom and get answers from their fellow students as well as from you. AND that means your answers are available to everyone, not just the student who emailed you. A wonderful potential for sparking discussions and getting students more involved.
    Letters of recommendation – I’m happy to receive these requests also, even long after the class has ended. To save some time I ask students to write up what they think are their best, relevant qualities and how what they have done in your courses provide evidence of that. (This REALLY helps me, as I have a swiss cheese brain when it comes to remembering the details.) Of course I rework the letter in my own words, but the whole experience can be very enlightening, and it’s a great exercise for the student – they are forced to pinpoint exactly why they believe they did to EARN your good opinion of them.
    In short – lots of ways to reduce the burden on yourself while at the same time providing a good experience for students.

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