Dear Professor

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Winking wild the terrible confusion
of wanting to be something bigger
than I am. I am wonderful. But I am
small. And I am broke. I am paid
poverty wages to teach literature in a
phallic tower that is supposed to make
me feel important enough, worthy enough,
smart enough to stand in front of students
who have no idea that it’s all a ruse.
I was given 2 hours of professional development
2 years ago in the form of a powerpoint slide
that showed me how I maybe might want to
teach a few things to college students who
won’t want to be there and the university
doesn’t care what I teach as long as I stand there.
Or not. I could do it at home in my pajamas
in front of a screen and lure my students to
Maya Angelou as if I’m a sexual predator on
Dateline. It’s all a trick, a game, a lie, a scam
to get you to pay thousands and thousands until you
are in your 60’s while your instructors qualify for
food stamps but barely qualify to teach.
Your degrees are all worth shit not because so many
have them, but because of who has taught them.
And that someone is me. An adjunct. A fake.
A devalued, underpaid, overworked, unqualified,
teacher at a university who pretends she’s more
important than she is but is as important as the university
makes her. And I just might say fuck you and quit.

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4 thoughts on “Dear Professor

  1. I was liking this until you got to the end. I’m also an adjunct, but I don’t feel like a fake. In fact, adjuncts are often more qualified than the “real” faculty because we are more dedicated to the art of teaching. In my experience at 4 year universities, the full time faculty care more about their research than their students. The adjuncts are the best teachers there, but they are not as skilled as some of my colleagues in community colleges, whose focus is 100% on their students. Sure, we are overworked, underpaid and devalued, but we are not unqualified. I think it is complete bullshit to say you need a phd to teach full time anyways. We are more qualified; we are better teachers!

    Perhaps my experience is different because I am in the northeast, teaching at state schools with very active unions who fight for the adjuncts 24/7, 365 days a year. I get professional development opportunities every semester, and a good chunk of them are paid. Over winter break, my school even paid for me to take a Reading Apprentice course online. There are some adjuncts at my school who choose to ignore these opportunities and use outdated methods, but they are an annoying minority throwing away something other adjunct would love to have.

    Don’t look at your department chairs disinterest in what you teach as a sign of being unqualified. Think of it as academic freedom that you have because you are qualified. You are not as important as the university makes you. You are as important as you make you. You’re not there to spew university bull shit at your students. You’re their to inspire and lead them; no arrogant academic can tell you how to do that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re absolutely right. I know a few amazing adjuncts who do not have doctorates and who are treated like absolute shit. I also know a few terrible tenured professors and lecturers who are treated like kings. This year my WPA offered barely any professional development opportunities, most of which were from of our terrible text book and its editor, or antiquated technologies. I offered my WPA that I’d put together a professional development workshop that would help train us in newer technologies. The chair loved the idea and offered to pay to have it catered, but my WPA shot it down and told me not to include any one else in emails that I sent to her. The chair said nothing about her behavior. I feel well educated but I do often feel like I fail my students because I’m not a well trained teacher. I value a doctorate because it does a lot of training that I didn’t receive in my masters degree.

      I’m so glad that you are well taken care of at your school. We aren’t unionized at mine and are really treated poorly under the guise of talk that attempts to make it look like we’re treated well. And there are so many adjuncts that I work with who I am just amazed that they are allowed to teach because they are just so bad. It’s very sad.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. People I work with complain a lot about our situation, but reading your post makes me realize we are actually quite fortunate. We are far from equal with the full time faculty as far as pay, benefits and office space go, but we are better off than adjuncts in other parts of the country. Sometimes I forget, too, that I am in a slightly unique position, even for community college, because I hold other part-time positions at my school – I tutor in the writing center and I score placement tests. My dual status has gotten me into situations where I was the only adjunct at a workshop or on a committee.

        I do want to comment on what you said about a lack of training with your masters degree. I was in an MA program where I was able to take classes about teaching and actually do some teaching. I still had no clue what I was doing when I got my first adjunct job, and I don’t believe a doctorate would have changed that. I learned to teach from teaching and from networking with other teachers. Professional development helped, but experience and discussions are where most of my learning happened and is still happening. Sometimes I think I learn the most from my students and the feedback I get from them.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. For me, having entered the hallowed halls of higher “hedjicashin” only to fix equipment in the kitchens or some of the common rooms I can’t comment on the working conditions, but what I see is more of the same corruption that was first noticed and publicized among TV evangelists, then among lawyers, then politicians, then of course corporate execs; then bankers. Meanwhile, safely hidden behind “tenure” the corruption tearing apart society’s fabric was working away at higher education institutions also. Now you can hear its teeth chewing at the dead wood. The corruption within the system (the Matrix) is endemic worldwide.

    Liked by 1 person

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