Friday, November 6, 2009

Ruby from Richmond Rhapsodizes on the Dream Schedule.

What’s your dream teaching schedule?

The class meets one night a week. I'm an adjunct, but I'm paid something that makes it worth giving up my free evening--say, at least $8000 per section. In fact, I teach two sections of the same class, one right after the other, so I can double my income with very little effort, giving the same presentation twice in a row without having to leave the room.

The class is a lecture course. I don't have to jump-start inane discussions or worry about the social climate in the room; I just have to talk, and they have to listen.

And they enjoy listening. I'm talking about something important and relevant--say, vaccines--and they realize, listening to my presentation, that they've never really understood the topic until tonight. When I make a joke, they laugh, and when I tell them something grave, they look concerned. I change their lives, and thus the lives of others, and their faces tell me so.

No one sleeps in class. No one dares take out an iPod or a laptop, not out of fear, but out of basic respect and decency.

It takes me some time and some care to piece together my lectures, but once I've solidified them, I can use them over and over again (with slight updating) each new semester. Easy money.

There are no exams. There are no quizzes. There is no homework. Or, rather, there can be all of those things--but there are no grades. Everyone comes because the topic fascinates them, and even though I guess it'd have to be pass/fail, the latter is something that just doesn't happen.

If there's any work do be done outside the lectures, I have TAs, and they get paid nicely, too. They think of interesting supplemental material for my lectures, present it to the students, and don't involve me. All I do is show up, give my wonderful lecture, and leave. The Registrar's Office deals with attendance and add/drop issues before they even reach me. The technology in my lecture hall is mind-blowing.

Some students have questions for me after the lecture, and I'm glad to answer them. The questions are insightful and show that they've been paying attention and wrestling with the material. Someone brought brownies. They're delicious.

I can park next to the building for free.