summer block: week one

Wow, what a week! Enrollment has been difficult to predict this year, and so I wasn’t sure if I would/should teach, if I would get paid well (or for adjunct wages), or how many classes I would teach. As it turns out, I am teaching two new preps for adjunct wages, partly because that’s what the department needs and partly because if I’m going to make the commute to work, I might as well teach two classes instead of one. (After a week of what felt like talking nonstop in 4-hour increments, I’m beginning to doubt that logic.)

The first week has been really hectic, but I’m hoping that I’ll get the hang of this pacing soon. Last semester I taught 50 minute classes, which were way too short for me. The summer classes are both two hours long, and that’s way too long for me. I need those lovely hour and fifteen minute classes. That’s where the magic happens.

While this week is not one that I want to relive, and I have a ton of work to do in the next few weeks, I think it will be okay. My time in the trenches as an adjunct prepared me for this. I’m not sure if I would elect to do two new preps again next summer, but I think I’ll probably teach in the summers again. I’m just hoping that I’ll get some real vacation time after this semester is over.

The thing about teaching is that it never goes away. Yes, the hours are usually pretty good, with some flexibility, but the real workload never ends. Teaching means checking and responding to emails at all hours and grading through the weekends. Yes, I’ll get a month off in the summer, but that month will mostly be spent working on scholarship for publication, which is a requirement of my employment. When I’m not actively working on work, I’m still thinking about work.* I still regularly negotiate the way my time is spent and the way I earn my money because, while it is certainly differently than an 8-hour shift at the plywood mill, academic work never ends. After the eight-hour shift, the rest of your day is your own. That is not ever the case as a teacher.

*One of my goals this year was to spend less time thinking about work during non-work-related activities, and I think I’ve improved in that tremendously since I’ve completed my PhD.


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