Sunday, March 8, 2015

7 Years Ago Today. RYS Flashback. The Saturday Professor.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Saturday Professor.
Yes, I'm one of those weekend teachers, one of the ones who's too stupid or lame to get a "real" job, one who plies his trade on weekends, on Thursday nights, and oftentimes in odd places: a high school classroom, a seminar room in a downtown office building, and - for one week - a prison visiting room.

That's all by way of saying that it's Saturday morning and I'm getting ready for a class. I know that when I get there I'll walk the long hallway of locked office doors until I find the teachers lounge. It'll be empty. Later I might find my classroom locked, and my students and I will stand outside for 20 minutes while we wait to be let in by the sleepy and miserable campus safety guy - he's a Saturday guy, too, I guess.

I won't be able to consult with a colleague, because there's no one there. I won't be able to check with the Dean about anything, or the department administrator. If I want a pen, I'll need to go to Walgreen's. If I need companionship, I'll need to get a dog. I'll have to do a week's worth of teaching at one shot...15 weeks in a row of 3 hour and 45 minute classes. If you haven't done that, think about it. Take your class plan for M, W, and F, and set it up so you can do it all at one go. No time for reading, homework, writing assignments.

And my students! They're working folks. Most of them have families, jobs, full lives. Getting up for a 9 am Saturday class is often last on the list of priorities for the week, and only about 50% of them show each Saturday. And they want to leave early because their kid's playing basketball or because their husband is flying home from Sarasota. They want a long break in the middle of class. They want to get out early. They want to eat their frozen waffle right on top of the textbook.

I have 20 on the roster, and last Saturday only 3 showed up. Do I keep those on target, keep pushing ahead, or do I hold things off till the next week? And what if those 3 don't make it back next week and I have 4 different students. How does last week's class speak to this week's? Am I supposed to throw a whole Saturday away, or just keep going. And if I keep going, what will my Saturday students say: "Don't you know I have a full time job?" "Don't you know that I only take classes on the weekend to better myself?"

And they want to know about me, why I'm teaching on a Saturday. Why don't I teach during the week? Why don't I have an office? Why do we have individual conferences in the teachers lounge? Am I like them, a regular person from Monday-Friday?

Yet the class is just another class, equal to those taught during the week with the real professors, the real students, the real college behind it all. The same credit, although, I can tell you, what we get done on a Saturday is NOT equal to what gets done on the normal schedule. Oh, yes, I drank from that river once, a few years ago. Students whose sole job was going to class. 2 or 3 meetings a week, time for the info to process. A full staff of help, of colleagues, of open doors, of "we're in this together!"

But now I'm a weekend and nights guy all the way. And I just don't want to go this morning.

My college keeps giving me the Saturday classes. And I keep taking them. (Oh, I do a Saturday afternoon one, too...but let's not even talk about that nightmare.) What else am I going to do?

When I was a kid, Saturday was the best day of the week.


  1. I'm not one of those moony everything was better at RYS people. But I just read this and a few others from that time period and I'm quite embarrassed about my little "I'm Baffled" pieces. Long live the RYS flashback.

  2. I've taught one of our night classes. The one that happens just once a week for really busy students who have to drive ninety minutes to get here. It's never been as bad for me a three students out of twenty showing up, but I can sympathize.

    The poor guy we've got teaching it this semester (a wonderfully energetic MS who wants to get some teaching experience before his Ph.D., saints preserve him) just lost two Mondays (i.e. two weeks of class) to snow days. What's he going to do? How are those students going to be ready for the second semester of the sequence?