Thursday, May 26, 2011

Summer -- Maybe Not?

I looked briefly at the roster for my summer course before school ended. It was a respite from a mountain of grading and I wanted to know what to expect. The class was nearly full up -- 23, I think? At the time I dismissed it, of course, and went on hurriedly finishing up, and, later, collapsing on the couch to do nothing but watch soaps for the last week.

Yesterday, I looked the class up online. I was interested in what the breakdown would be -- mostly testosterone driven guys? Chatty girls? Turns out ALL girls...but only three of them.

Considering the course must be extremely fast-paced, has a strict attendance policy that's going to get at least one of them in trouble, etc, half of my brain is panicking. What if they all fail for attendance, or they're all friends who read through the syllabus and decide this isn't the easy-peasy class they thought they could coast through? What if they all drop? Will I even get paid or will all this extra work I've been putting into squeezing this 16 week instruction into 4 weeks -- figuring out all their homework assignments and scheduling, setting up more stuff online, winnowing and molding the strongest units I can -- be wasted? And how the fuck am I going to pay my rent until September?

At the same time, having this few students could be AMAZING. Could you imagine the one-on-one time? The feedback? How fast I could grade things? No more weekends from hell for a month. They could all actually learn and grow as writers and I could focus solely on what they needed help with. Jesus, it would be awesome.

I guess I have to be patient. It could turn out either way (or the university could just decide there aren't enough students in the class and drop it, screwing me out of the teaching opportunity and the pay).

Then again, registration can change a lot in a week.


  1. I'm with you, May. My college has this stupid policy of allowing students to register without paying anything or demonstrating proof of financial aid coming in. Then we purge. And purge. And purge. Some students get dropped and sign up for the same class three or four times. When I went on vacation (which was not really a vacation as much as attending to urgent family matters), I came home to discover my classes in the single digits. I need at least 18 students to make. My college pays so badly that almost everyone teaches summer just to make a decent paycheck. Our summer pay was already cut this year. I have major surgery scheduled that was going to be paid for in part with summer work.

    Here's hoping things pick up for both of us in the coming week!

  2. I once taught a summer class that needed at least 5 students to make. Usually the school has a 9 student minimum, but this department was going for 5! Woohoo!

    So, I got my 5, and all was well, then Debbie Dumbass decided to miss a week of classes for her brother's graduation. That's 4 classes in a 5-week course. Well, she'll read the book, do her homework, and get notes from a classmate, right? Right? She'd already missed class #1, so she knows to get caught up, right? Right?

    Guess who couldn't find ANY research on juvenile diabetes? Even her mom (who went to the library for her) was stumped! So she wrote her paper based on a group project she did at a different school. That's ok, right? Right? Right? Three-quarters of i he paper was plagiarized straight from the web with ZERO quotations or citations. No works cited.

    The day paper drafts were due, there were 2 no-shows, 1 I-forgot, this plagiarized mess, and one draft that was already an A paper. Final grade breakdown: A, B-, C-, D, F.

    A simple, straightforward, short-term class with 1 task: Write a Research Paper, and most of the class couldn't do it. At least I could pay my rent that summer...that class was a last-minute replacement for the other 2 that got cancelled because not enough students enrolled.

    Here's hoping you have better luck, May!

  3. Summer limits are always a pain, and I've had many summer classes taken away at the last minute because they didn't make the cut of 5 or 6 or whatever.

    Even worse is when a part-timer gets a FULL class taken away and given to a full-timer who wants to pad his/her salary and whose original summer class didn't make.

    I had a class not make a few years ago but got a cheery call from the registrar. "Dr. Will, don't worry. I've found you a full section to teach."

    "Where did you find it?"

    "Oh, I just took it away from an adjunct."

    Gulp. I gave it back.

  4. Find out your University's policy ASAP. For example, at mine, they cancel any class with fewer than 5 registered at the cutoff point. It sounds like you need to know this so you can make contingency plans if need be.

    You might also want to hold off on the prep work (if it's not already done) until either you're certain the class will actually go ahead, or you have no choice if it's to be done before class starts.

  5. At my school, your pay is based on enrollment at the end of the second week. So if someone flakes, you aren't out of luck. But definitely check on minimum enrollment policies before you invest in prep time. Hope it works out for you.

  6. I'm also at a school that has a minimum of 5 to run a class -- and we're a SLAC. My friends at state schools have higher minimums, 8 and 10. Let us know how it turns out.


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