The hardest part about leaving my employer is that I won’t be guaranteed any classes. Now, I teach a 5/5 load, which means I teach 5 classes in the fall and 5 in the spring. The college has to give me classes because of our union contract, and well, it’s my job. It’s how the college makes money.
When I leave, I think I would still like to teach at my community college. I could do that as a part-timer, but classes can be hard to get. I find this a little ironic. Some part timers want to teach more classes, and I want to teach fewer classes; it would seem an easy solution would be to have me teach fewer and allow the part-timers to teach more if they choose.
That’s just not how it works—unless the college gives me another assignment. For many years, I taught 4 classes a semester and spent 6 hours a week in our writing center. I would tutor individual students in writing for any class when in the writing center. Unfortunately, the writing center never really caught on, so it was eventually closed. Life was more manageable then, but even then I would complain about having to spend so much time in the writing center when I had 4 other classes to teach. I would have preferred to teach 4 classes without an additional assignment.
Other semesters, I was a coordinator for our developmental writing classes which were meant to help students not prepared for college-level writing become college-ready. I had reassignment time for that, which meant, like when I was in the writing center, I was to spend 6 hours a week on it. I rarely spent that much time on the coordinator work and when asked, I was honest about this. The reassignment time eventually “went away” and we no longer have a coordinator for developmental writing. The department allocated that money elsewhere.
Early in my full-time career, my dean tried to bring the number of classes the writing faculty taught down. We kept track of the hours we spent responding to papers, thinking that approaching administration with our workload would help us decrease it. Our dean was a smart, strategic person, but now I know there’s no way our college would decrease class size based on faculty needs. Decisions are based on money. Decreasing the number of classes each of us taught would mean we’d need more faculty to cover the classes, which would mean less money for the college. Never mind that it would mean more faculty satisfaction, more time for faculty to do service work for the college and more time for faculty professional development. Ultimately, students would have benefitted because their faculty would have had more time for them.
I could still try to get reassignment time and thus teach one fewer class. Right now that means being coordinator for the whole writing program or doing other work for the college. None of the work my colleagues are getting reassignment time for now are appealing to me. I also have struggled with relationships with a few colleagues, so being coordinator “over” them wouldn’t likely go well. There are lots of reasons, then, that I don’t want the reassignment time.
Right now, then, I consider myself a workhorse. I have the full amount of classes and I have chosen for those all to be writing classes overall so I have fewer different types of classes to prepare for since that takes time as well. This means I start the semester with 110 students, which is fewer than at other colleges. It’s still too many for me to be able to connect with in the ways I’d like.
It is possible that after I leave full-time work that I would be allowed to teach a class or more a semester. I just can’t count on it. I have friends who are part-time teachers and some of them consistently get classes and others are assigned classes sporadically. Part-timers also are assigned classes at odd times or out of town (we have 2 satellite locations). The full timers get first dibs on types of classes and times, which is why I mostly teach mornings with 2 back to back classes and 1 online class. I’ve got my perfect schedule in a way.
Really, thinking about not teaching almost makes me not want to leave.
College students are my jam. I connect well with them, I love their stage of life, and I love learning about them through their writing and in-class discussions. Being in the classroom and responding to their writing bring me a lot of joy.
Just 2 months ago about how I want to quit so I can work. The amount of full-time work is one thing that makes life unmanageable. I’d like to teach a class or 2 a semester and also have time to work at the K-8 school I’ve grown connected to. I’d like more time to clean and organize my house. I’d like to work on a farm a former student of mine just purchased. There’s a lot I want to do that I don’t have time for right now.
Thinking about leaving the students and the classroom, though, is what makes leaving full-time work difficult.
Peace Out (& In)