Monthly Archives: September 2006

The New Kid Gets the Short Stick…

Joe called me this morning. “I have good news and bad news,” he told me. (“oh, GOD,” I thought, “here it comes…”)

The bad news, he said, is that there was a mistake with the course enrollment numbers and the college has combined a couple of sections of Foundational English. The combination means that one of the sections had to be dropped and, since I’m the newest kid on the block, mine was the section that got dropped. The good news, he bubbled, is that I’ll be able to focus more attention on my other two courses. I was okay with it, really – I wasn’t overly invested in the Foundations class; while I was more than happy to get it, I wasn’t crushed to lose it.

About half an hour later, my phone rings again. I said “hello” and the voice on the other end said, without greeting, “You should know that you work for an idiot.” It was Joe, calling back to tell me that he’d made a mistake – that it WASN’T the Foundations course that was being combined out of my schedule, it was the Composition course.

I find I’m a little more disappointed about losing the Comp class…


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Oh, By The Way…

So, on Friday I went into Tiny Community College (hereafter known as TCC) to do some administrative stuff. Joe had sent me home after our interview on Monday with a packet of papers from the human resources department – a TON of papers, actually, that took me nearly an hour to fill out – and I wanted to bring them all back. I also had to provide my driver’s license and Social Security card to prove that I’m not an illegal alien (who’s dying to teach English – I thought that was kind of funny). I was going to just bring my passport, until I realized that the key to our bank box isn’t in my car anymore – it’s in Husband’s – so I went with the “one document each from columns A and B” option. Anyway, after delivering the forms, all properly signed and dated, an official copy of my transcripts and the legal citizenship documentation, I headed over to Joe’s office to pick up the texts for the classes I’ll be teaching.

I found Joe in his cubicle, furiously trying to get a bunch of loose ends tied up before he leaves for an unexpected trip to the midwest on Monday. He was tapping away at his computer, trying to get notices and forms out to all the people who would need them, finalizing the schedule for the term that starts next Monday (which is part of why I’m telling you all this in the first place – just bear with me) and making sure that he returned all his phone calls before his flight takes off on Monday afternoon. We sat and chatted for a bit, he told me about the orientation that will happen next Friday then turned to me and said:

“How would you feel about taking on another class?”

It turns out that he has a bunch of sections of “foundational” English that he’s got to find instructors for. Remember I told you that TCC doesn’t have any admissions standards? That if students hold a diploma or a GED, and can afford to pay for classes, they’re in? Well, as a result, a lot of students come to the school with less-than-stellar skills in English and math, so the college sets up classes for them to hone some of those skills before going on into the classes for which those skills will be required. The classes run for six weeks instead of eleven (or twelve, in this case – they take foundational English for six weeks and foundational math for the other six) and classes start a week from Monday.

I told Joe that I’d be more than happy to take on another class, and that the short notice doesn’t bother me in the least. The course dovetails very nicely with the others I’m teaching as far as scheduling goes – the Foundations class runs just ahead of the Public Speaking class – and doesn’t interfere with my ability to get the girls ready and on the bus in the morning. To say that Joe was relieved would be a bit of an understatement; as he walked me back to my car, he joyfully announced to at least two people we passed by that “one more hole is filled!!”

I’m really excited by all of this activity in the professional part of my life, though I’m trying to keep an even keel about it and approach with a fair dose of caution. Just this weekend, one of my Capital-G-Girlfriends wrote me an email in which she said that this “sounds like the perfect gig to keep you active while you wait for YOUR job.” That got me thinking…

What if this is MY job?


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Wow. You Guys are GOOD!

Also titled: “In Which a Miracle Occurs.”

Thank you, thank you for your good wishes today – they really paid off!! You are now reading the blog of an adjunct professor of English at Tiny Community College!

It was, perhaps, the strangest interview I’ve ever had – not that I’ve had that many, really, but still. Joe did most of the talking, regaling me with the history of the college (“The school is more than 100 years old, you know!”) and about how they were recently bought out by a conglomerate which buys small schools and turns them into for-profit institutions (“which is both a good and a bad thing,” Joe told me. “Good because there’s a lot more access to materials and resources, and the kids can use the corporate umbrella to do some great networking and find jobs after they graduate, but a lot of older faculty don’t like the way some things had to change when we made the transition.”).

The school is mostly career-oriented; they offer certificate and associate’s degree programs. As such, they don’t have a liberal arts department, so the English classes fall under the General Education department and are maintained so that the college gets to keep its national accreditation. Joe explained to me that the school doesn’t have any admissions standards – if you have a high school diploma or the equivalent and can afford to pay for your classes, you’re in – and that many of the students come to the college without an effective grasp of reading and writing skills. He asked me a couple of questions about what I thought about the classes he had open – did the lack of admissions standards frighten me and what would be the most important thing I wanted my students to come away from the class knowing, for example – and I answered them as forthrightly and honestly as I could. He seemed impressed.

When it was all over, after a tour of the building and what I hoped wouldn’t be a quiz on the names of all the people I was introduced to, Joe asked if I had any questions. When I said I really didn’t, that he’d done a remarkably thorough job of explaining the ins and outs of his school, he turned to me and said, “SO! I would like to offer you the position, but I won’t accept an answer until tomorrow. Go home. Talk it over with your family. Sleep on it. If, tomorrow, you still think it’s something you want to do, give me a call.” Even though he wouldn’t accept my answer, he still sent me home with a new-employee packet.

So, here’s the deal: I’ll be teaching a composition class on Monday evenings from 6 – 7.30, and an “Effective Communication” (public speaking) course on Monday mornings from 10.30 to noon, with an added online class sometime during the week (I gathered from Joe’s explanation that there have to be so many credit hours for general education classes, and the online portion makes up the missing time). Their terms run for 11 weeks, and I’ll start early in October. If, at the end of the term, the college and I decide we like one another, I’ll be offered new courses when the next term begins.

I’m excited and relieved and generally pleased at the results of today. This is pretty much the perfect first gig for me – I get to teach what I know, I get to do it in a pretty relaxed atmosphere with a bunch of supportive people around me (did I mention that I’ll be assigned a mentor?), the schedule is very, very flexible and the commitment is only for 11 weeks at a time. This leaves me open for being able to accept a position at a high school should one make itself available. And, as Kizz so rightly pointed out, now I’ll have something to talk about here!!

And here’s the part where I offer heartfelt gratitude to all of you – for your support, your encouragement and your friendship. I’m so glad to have you around. Thanks.


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Oh, Please, Please, Please!!

I just got a phone call from Tiny Community College. They have a couple of openings – one for a public speaking course (“Effective Communication”) and one for English Composition – and Joe called to find out if I’d be interested in either of them (“Um, gee, let me think. YEAH!!”)

I interview tomorrow at eleven in the morning. Please pause for a moment around that time to wish me well; I REALLY want to work!

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The Little Engine (I think I can, I think I can…)

Well, Friends, I’ve done it again. I sent in my application for a full-time substitute position in a semi-local middle school. I am nothing if not persistent.

From what I can gather, this is the sort of job where I would show up every day and, if there’s a teacher out, I would sub for that teacher. If there’s not a teacher out, I would still be there, covering duties and running errands and the like.

I think that this is a brilliant way to arrange for substitute teachers; the work and income for the subs is steady, the kids get to know who the teachers are, thereby limiting the amount of nonesense and attitude that the subs typically receive, and there are no 6 a.m. phone calls. The school gets a sense of who their subs are and where their strengths lie, and have a ready pool of teachers to pull from should a position open up.

Bowyer hooked me up to the opening. He works in that school district and has been encouraging me to apply because he sees it as a good way to get in the proverbial door. He’s pretty sure there’ll be openings in the high school this coming year, and both of us would love nothing better than to work in the same building.

As always, Dear Readers, I will keep you constantly posted on the outcome.

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Nothing New to Tell…

I’m writing, but I have nothing of interest to say.

I have no job and no prospect of a job. At this point, I’m not sure that it’s worth actively looking for a job, really; the school year is pretty much underway, and I’m guessing that all the positions that needed filling are filled already. I’m not whining, exactly; I’m finding that I have plenty to keep me busy, and my lack of outside commitments means that I can volunteer in my daughters’ classrooms and chaperone field trips, so it’s all working out.

Even so, I’m going to re-send my resume to all the school districts in which I’m willing to work, just so they have my information should something come up during mid-terms. I wouldn’t mind starting fresh in January.

I’m also looking into taking some workshops this fall and, perhaps, a class in January. Whether I’m actively teaching or not, I still have to complete hours to keep my certification current, and I figure it’s easier, in terms of scheduling, brain-power and finances, to spread the hours out over the three years that the license is valid, rather than trying to cram all the time into the last few months before the state comes looking for its renewal fees. There are a couple of workshops at a not-so-local college that focus on the Holocaust and social justice that I wouldn’t mind attending, so I’m going to register for those.

I’ve started reading the Outlander series again. I got through the third book in the set, loving every single page, and realized that there were a lot of details that I was failing to carry from one book to the next (I had thought that reading a different book between the series installments would help to prolong the enjoyment of the story, but it really just proved a distraction). In case you were wondering, it’s just as good the second time around.

If you’re still reading, thanks. I’m sorry that I’ve nothing more interesting or challenging to offer lately. I think I might try to do poetry week starting this coming Monday, or maybe a series on short stories. I’m also open to suggestions, so feel free to comment.

Have a great weekend!

-Mrs. Chili

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Dream Interpretation

This morning, we were all sitting around the breakfast table enjoying pancakes and discussing those of our most recent dreams as we could recall.

When it got to my turn, I told my family about the dream I had this early morning in which I was a nurse in a hospital ward which cared for babies. I had one patient in particular who concerned me greatly. He was an older baby, perhaps close on to a year old, who was enormously obese and had yet to learn to walk.

His father, an absolute giant of a man who was so huge he was unable to walk himself, berated me every time I entered his son’s room for his daily physical therapy. As I hauled the child to his pudgy feet and encouraged him to at least TRY to balance upright, the father would scowl and humph from the corner of the room. “The kid doesn’t NEED to learn to walk” the blob would growl at me, “I don’t walk, and I get around just fine.” The father DID get around just fine, in fact; he made his way through the world in a wheelchair-like contraption that actually turned him sideways so he could fit through doors.

His son, too, didn’t seem to mind not walking. He would roll happily where ever he felt he wanted to be. The effect reminded me a great deal of Violet Beauregarde being rolled to the juicing room after expanding to a giant blueberry. The baby didn’t seem to mind my coming every day to teach him to be bi-pedal, though; he was happily rolling around in his crib, and when I opened the door he stopped, his face splitting into an enormous, fleshy smile he giggled gaily and rolled toward me. I hoisted him from his crib and helped him upright where he wavered between delight at the exercise and frustration that he couldn’t maintain the posture by himself.

That’s pretty much all I remember of the dream. When I told my family the story, though, my husband had an immediate and intriguing interpretation, which led me to post this here for you. He said that the story speaks to my opinion of the state of our educational system and my own place in it: the indulged child rendered incapacitated by guardians (whether they be parents specifically or “the system” in general) which expects nothing of him but who, despite all that, really WANTS to learn: the frustration I feel at not being able to actually DO my job, hindered by the powers-that-be who won’t offer up the chance for me to show how much good I can really do: and the excitement and joy I felt at the excitement and joy the baby showed when I came in the door echoing the eagerness I’m keeping contained at the thought of actually being able to get into a classroom, where I can see to the care and keeping of my own “babies.”

It’s not such a stretch. Freud he’s not, but I think my husband’s got a good case for his interpretation of my dream.

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