This week I read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. The book is narrated by 15-year-old Christopher who loves animals, doesn't like people, and is a whiz at mathematics. He is a fan of Sherlock Holmes and decides to figure out who murdered his neighbor's dog after he is falsely accused of the crime. Although Christopher is autistic, in some ways he is better able to cope with life than his parents and others around him.
I just came across your blog today and it seems like a great resource for professors. I am writing to see if you have any advice or tips for someone trying to get started as an adjunct professor. I have an MBA and work experience, but no formal teaching experience. I would love to hear any tips or thoughts you have to help me get started.
Thanks! Would Be Teacher
Dear Would Be Teacher:
First of all, as I look over the resume you attached, I see you have an excellent educational background and very relevant work experience in your field. These are things that universities look for in hiring adjuncts. You might list speeches given and your experience training others on a cover letter when applying.
The easiest way to break into teaching is to apply to a community college (it’s how I got started). However, with your background in finance, I think a 4 year college would also be interested in hiring you as an adjunct.
Try contacting professors at universities you are interested in and volunteer to be a guest speaker in their classes. That way you get to make some contacts. When I was at Drake University, we hired several adjuncts this way. It gives the school a chance to see how you handle yourself in a classroom setting.
You might also look through college catalogs (or on websites) to see which classes they offer that you believe you are qualified to teach. Also, go to their bookstores and leaf through the required textbooks for those classes to get a sense of topics covered. This might help you to know how to “sell” yourself.
Just FYI though-adjuncts do not get paid very much. However, it’s a good way to beef up your CV if you think you might want to eventually teach full-time.
Hope this helps. Let me know how it works out for you!
This week I read the book, Room, by Emma Donoghue. The subject matter made it tough to read but the author does a great job of showing the special bond between a mother and her son. The book is told from the perspective of Jack, a five-year-old boy whose entire world is a 11 x 11 foot room. His mother does such a great job of creating a life for him that he doeesn't realize that they are prisoners and that his mother had been kidnapped years before.
My students enjoy interacting with the authors of some of the books they are reading. One way to do this is via Skype. Kate Messner has put together a list of authors who are willing to guest speak to your class or book club for free using Skype. Click here for authors.
I've been thinking of using clickers in one of my classes this fall. Professor Sue Franz (Highline Community College) gives step-by-step directions on how to turn student smartphones into clickers. The students might forget their clickers but it's safe to say they will have their phone with them!
This week I re-read The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. If you've only seen the movie, the book is much better. I'm not usually a fan of science fiction but loved this story of Henry, a librarian in Chicago, and his wife, Clare. Henry suffers from a genetic disorder that causes him to time travel without warning. He essentially gets to watch Clare grow up. The story is very creative and engrossing and the second read was as good as the first!
I’m reading this article about Dr. George Plopper (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) and his approach to teaching students how to think. I’m curious as I’m teaching a new course this fall on social media and am trying to decide how to structure the class. I'm sure the students will all have various levels of skills and experience with different social networking sites and I'm picturing the class as one in which each student uses his or her expertise to teach their classmates.
Thus, I'm interested in Dr. Plopper's approach:
After spending the first class of the semester outlining expectations, Plopper breaks the class into six groups of five students, and assigns a group of students the task of giving a presentation on the subject that is to be covered the next week. That is, they are required to teach the subject to their peers the first time they encounter it -- and they must determine what three learning outcomes they expect their fellow students to demonstrate.
Plopper points them to the relevant literature, including journals and a textbook, and the students must sort out what's important and what isn't -- and then grasp the details with enough clarity and complexity that they can convey them to the rest of the class. The final exam will include material that is relevant to the subjects they've covered, but will not be limited to what has been presented in class -- forcing students to read and think widely about the subject independently rather than turn up at class simply waiting to receive information.
Plopper also evaluates the students -- and they evaluate one another (which allows students to call out the slackers on group projects), according to a rubric he shares with them at the start of the semester, which is matched to the various facets of Bloom's Taxonomy. The approach forces Plopper and his students to think not just about the subject matter, but also about the process by which they have come to understand it, he said.
I'm curious whether others have tried this and whether the students see how much they are gaining (there is no better way to learn something than to teach it!) or if they feel they are doing the teacher's job.
This week's choice was The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown. The story is told in third-person plural to illustrate the closeness of the three sisters who love each other but for various reasons don't seem to like each other much. Rosalind, Bianca, and Cordelia were all named for Shakespearean heroines by their father who uses phrases from various plays to communicate with his daughters. This is an interesting approach although at times seems to slow down the story. The daughters are very much locked into their roles in the family-Rosalind (Rose) is the responsible one, Bianca (Bean) the pretty one, and Cordelia (Cordy) is the free spirit. However, this begins to change when they end up back home when their mother is diagnosed with cancer. The book is Eleanor Brown's first novel and I'm looking forward to the next one.
This week I read Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. It's a non-fiction account of Abdulrahman Zeitoun who decided to stay in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in order to protect his painting business and real estate properties. He uses a small canoe to feed dogs that have been left behind when their owners fled and to rescue people after their homes are flooded. However, he is arrested and accused of being a terrorist because of his race and religion and is held without bond, not allowed a lawyer, or even a phone call for three months. The book is eye-opening as a first-person account of the tragedy of Katrina.