Adjunct Teaching: Procrastinate or Else
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Earlier this summer, low enrollment cancelled two of my courses at Fordham. I was slated to teach two new offerings, The Broadcast Industry and Digital Media and Cyberculture. The two were so new that no one had taught them at Fordham before, which is probably why students didn’t enroll and the class was cancelled. I had kept thinking about materials for these courses in the back of my mind, but I never prepared a syllabus or ordered textbooks. I learned a some time ago that, because your course can be cancelled due to low enrollment, you have to be prepared to trash a syllabus you worked on over the summer. It’s better to wait until August to create that syllabus.
After the classes were cancelled I was assigned to teach TV News and Today’s World, a stalwart course of the undergraduate curriculum that I’ve never done before. A few weeks later, I was asked to fill in for a professor on medical leave and cover his Introduction to Media Industries. I was happy to do that because this is a course I’ve done many times, as recently as this past spring. I went from having two courses to zero, and then back to two. In addition, another professor was granted some course relief (sounds nice, doesn’t it?), and I was asked to cover his Introduction to Electronic Media course. Because I consider him a friend and because I have also done this course in the past, as recently as the Sandy-shortened semester of Fall 2012, I happily took the course, provided I was relieved of TV News and Today’s World.
That’s exactly what happened. At the beginning of the summer, I dreaded the thought of creating two new syllabi for courses I’ve never taught before. That’s a lot of work to do over the summer, and I was even preparing to ask for a raise when I went in to sign my contract. I was also anxious about the new courses because I suck at doing a class the first time around, or at least it feels that way to me. But then they were cancelled. With these personnel issues that arose over the summer, and that our department chair had to handle, I was able to not only substitute for two full-timers who couldn’t teach their courses, helping out the department with crucial staffing issues, but my overall workload will be much easier with these tried-and-true courses.
Sometimes, it pays to procrastinate.