Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Alienating Adjunct Angst Reveals Itself to Angular Anne from Alabaster, Alabama. And We're Actually Anxious About How She'll Be Affected Academically.

I had heard that being an adjunct was the dreaded position of all positions, and yet I willingly took it on. Actually, I am taking a year off of my doctoral program (yes, yes, it's career suicide; right, right, I'll never go back...I've heard all this, and I'm doing it anyway) to do more teaching. I like teaching, and I had grown comfortable doing it at my old Huge Public U. However, now, as an adjunct at two small colleges, I'm confronted with the disturbing sense that I HAVE NO FREAKING CLUE WHAT I'M DOING.

It is not that I am unsure about my teaching skills, my lesson plans, or my philosophies of education. Rather, I don't know how to get a frickin' copy made. I don't know why the door to my 8 AM classroom is locked, and I don't know who has the key. I don't know when book orders are due until after I get an angry email from the book store. I don't know who needs a copy of my syllabus, and I certainly don't know how to access my goddamn email account despite having politely asked every possible department on campus.

Is this how my students have felt all these years? Are they too on the outside of the system looking in, forced to ask seemingly inane questions, groping for any piece of information they can get?

I am not an idiot. I'm fairly well-versed in copy machines and computers. I like to do things myself, and I don't nag people unnecessarily. But it seems the first step to degrading adjuncts is leaving them completely cut off from basic information.

I have never doubted myself so much: did I miss an important mailing? Was I not listening well enough? Is there some kind of adjunct mailing list that I am missing out on? Phone circle? Book club? No. I am only an adjunct. And I just don't know.