Monday, May 23, 2016

2015- 2016 Emails I didn't send

To Adjunct One
No, I will not change my very positive evaluation of your good, solid teaching to "Outstanding" in all categories. I know few teachers who might warrant such an evaluation. You're a good teacher, and I will recommend that you teach the newly revised course. I was put off by your second request to meet with me for "no more than fifteen minutes" so you can "be sure to get all Outstandings" on the next evaluation. If I could make good teachers outstanding teachers by just repeating what I wrote on their evaluations, I would do that job. By the way, please don't seem to threaten me by saying that the department is lucky that you can "cover" a class at 8:00 am before you go to your "real job." We have enough colleagues who prefer 8:00 am classes and who call this job their real job.

To Adjunct Two
 A "needs improvement" on one section of an evaluation doesn't mean that I consider you a "horrible teacher." I tried to be supportive by offering to meet with you off the record to suggest ways to improve your teaching. You argued that I should change my evaluation because "student-centered classes are the new technique." Some old people have heard about new techniques, and I do know enough about teaching that arranging the student desks in a circle does not mean your class is student-centered. Where the students sit as you lecture isn't student-centered instruction. I appreciate the value and effectiveness of good lecture, but my department asks for "student interaction;" that's why it's a category on the evaluation form. And your lecture wasn't good anyway, something I left off the evaluation. Finally, I didn't mean to insult you (as the chair reports you charged) when I said all teachers need improvement.

To the Assessment Czar
What you're doing is not assessment—at least meaningful assessment. For the last two years, we have tried to suggest factors, questions, approaches, etc. I'll stop now as you have ignored every suggestion from me and every other colleague who has bothered. The charts are pretty—and that will impress enough administrators that you're doing something worthwhile. Making suggestions is not an attack, either personal or professional; stop complaining to the chair when someone tries to help.

To the Over-worked Associate Professor. 
We understand that things get crazy for you. No one has more to do on campuses than Associate Professors. Here's what some of us are coming to believe: every retreat you volunteer for too much because you think you're the only person capable and willing to do the work. The annual March "melt downs" are upsetting especially to our junior colleagues. Do the work you agree to do and don't complain that you have too much to do. Or better for all of us, at the next retreat, wait a moment to see if others will volunteer, because once you do, why would anyone else?

To Newly Tenured Associate Professor
Welcome to Tenure. I know our colleagues explained many times as you were working toward tenure we were protecting you as you worked up your classes and produced (barely enough) research for your tenure and promotion. Now that you're a tenured associate professor, you have that job: you have to serve now as an associate professor—that means you no longer get the chance to schedule your classes first and to be excused from department and college service. If you intend to do the very least you can do, stop complaining about having to do that.

To the Chair.
Let's meet to help the Associate Professors cope and the adjuncts fit in. Not every thing is about the colleagues working toward tenure. In ten years, we have "lost" three associate professors—which means we have more job searches, mentoring, etc...... Let's mentor the tenured and the adjuncts. Maybe you won't get so many complaints that you keep complaining about.

To the Big Campus Players (who each teach only one course a semester). 
Yes, the three of you are important people on campus. And sure you deserve the reassigned time for all you have to do—if you say so. With three classes and with a four-day-a-week schedule, I simply have fewer hours in a week to schedule meetings. My three classes meet at the same times every week—for the entire semester. While we may have equal workloads, I cannot reschedule my profession life as easily as you can. I will not agree to meetings during my office periods; if no students drop by, I read, I grade, and I plan lessons for my three classes. And unlike you do, I get very busy at midterm and at the end of the semester, when I typically have seventy-two exams or essays to grade and the usual advising, student conferences, the flood of emails with outrageous student excuses, requests, etc. And yes, I AM still grading the week you want to schedule the final meetings so you can start your summer as soon as possible. You've forgotten how much work grading seventy-two essays can be when one has three finals in two days. Give me some time to grade.

To the HUGELY IMPORTANT Campus Players (who teach no classes). 
You're very important people. But it is insulting that you call some of us "just teachers." All I wanted to be was "just a teacher;" I remain proud of what I do, and although I never admit it to others, it is my dream job. If working as campus players helps you justify your being "stuck here," then I'm glad you're doing that. And please stop calling yourselves members of the department. If you're not teaching, advising, grading, mentoring, serving on department committees, you're not in the department. So stop dropping in to tell us "what to do to make this department important"—we all see that you're trying to get us to help you build your own program/position, not help the department and our majors.

To the Dean
If you truly miss the classroom, just come back; resign, and come back. Those of us who have been here for a while only remember you complaining about all the grading.

To the Provost
Make up your freaking mind! What the hell do you want this school to be? Seriously, stick to one plan and for more than six months. And please stop raiding this department for some one to head every newly created position you come with. Go after another department for a while.

To the President
Do you work here, or just use the Rec Center indoor track?



  1. This is truly great!

  2. To the Janitor.
    Thank you for smiling at me and being nice to me today. I know you know that you earn more than most of the "professional" adults in this building, so it might be a little bit easier for you to appear magnanimous. But still. You are kind. You don't have to be, but you are. And it's peaceful around you. Thanks.

    1. Though sadly, in my "right to work" state, the janitorial staff is now made up of underpaid employees of some subcontractor or another. It used to be a semi-decent job (partly because of the state-employee health and retirement benefits), and multiple members of families/neighbors used to carpool in an hour or two from the neighboring (considerably more impoverished/lower cost of living) state. It still seems to be a bit better in some ways than the food-service jobs (mostly more autonomy/less contact with snotty "customers"), but not by much. In any case, our present cleaning crews are always very polite when they open my office door late at night and find me still there, working on my computer.

  3. Somehow every position in the university, from the extremely precarious to the all-too-secure, seems to have a bad effect on its incumbents. Maybe there's something wrong with the system?


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