Saturday, September 13, 2014

When to tell a university to "get bent."

I am an adjunct, I teach online classes for several different universities. Some are better than others, some are for profit some are non-profit. I need each and every paycheck and they are never guaranteed term to term.

One university that I work for is the bane of the for profit world, you may have read about them in the media recently. Frankly I am ashamed of them but I work hard to drag my students kicking and screaming towards a working knowledge of the material I teach.

My problem is I need the paycheck but University X is so terrible, and frankly let's be honest, a sinking ship, how do I know when it is time to tell the Dean's and higher ups to get bent when they ask me to do more work, continue with training, and spend countless useless hours with "outreach" to students who will never show up to class? If I knew I would continue to get paid next term I might be more willing to carry on with a happy face however there is nothing but silence from the powers that be.


  1. Well, obviously, your first priority is to replace the paycheck from the awful university, since it will almost certainly soon be gone. Beyond that, don't do anything that further injures any students who actually are engaged (they're going to be in a tough situation, too, and they didn't create it)*, but feel free to do the absolute minimum in terms of training, "outreach," etc.

    *So, don't quite a class mid-term, but feel free to say "yes" to teaching next term and "no" any time before the term begins, if you find a better option. There's some possibility that that will create a situation in which students get a really bad fill-in instructor, or are due refunds but have difficulty getting them, so resign as soon as possible if you're going to do so, but there's a limit to how much you can protect students who should be heading for the exits themselves.

    I'm curious -- as you go looking for other work, are you listing this institution on your c.v.? If so, do you expect to keep it on your c.v. in the future? I can see arguments for either approach (there are a few advantages to adjuncting in multiple places, and one of them is that you can, if you choose, leave a position off your c.v. with creating a hole. On the other hand, if -- as I suspect -- this is online teaching, and you want to claim that experience, that's a conundrum).

  2. Cassandra,
    Good advice. I am looking for a replacement position and am on the fence about listing it on my CV. I don't want the stigma of the school as I am a teacher and did not cause the problem however I do not want to be dishonest and have it affect future job offers.

  3. Ooh, I wish I could guess which uni you work for! They are all so terrible, but is it terrible by asking you to do a bunch of free stuff, or terrible because it is currently undergoing an investigation??


    Anyway, I have learned to use this experience very precisely, like a surgeon. I rarely put it under "teaching" and instead put it under "Services." Because honest-and-true Unis are interested in people who are tech-savvy and able to implement EFFECTIVE (not bullshit) online options for their students. By putting it under service, you can pitch yourself as a restrained but fantastic addition to any uni by adding value and embracing 21st century technology.

  4. It IS currently under investigation which means that it may not be here in a few months yet they will not flat out say that, instead since you HOPE for a paycheck they can string you along. Irritating but not much you can do. More irritating as they keep wanting us as instructors to do training on "customer service" and "self esteem" which is ineffectual in any educational environment.