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Unlocking Old Doors

Monday, September 10, 2007
Some time ago I gave up the notion of teaching. Not just because I was burnt out from being an adjunct, but because I couldn't imagine pursuing a tenure-track job. Doing so not only seemed ludicrous (2 tenured jobs at one college? puh-leeze) but just painful. I really don't want any part of the 3-5 publications/year, university-service grind. Intellectually I'd given up on any notion of teaching college, a decision which was more depressing than liberating. The PhD seemed like a silly extravagance, and for perhaps the first time in my life I had no idea what I wanted to do or be. To make matters worse, I was trying to accustom myself to seeking a tedious 9-5 job whose sole purpose would be to pay the bills. All and all a bleak prospect.

And then my wonderful spouse Dr. Brazen Hussy suggested that I look into becoming a full-time instructor. Apparently there are some universities that pay people to just teach. What a strange concept! I was a little shocked at the notion, so sure had I been that I'd never set foot in a classroom again. Now I'm wondering whether I'd just decided I didn't want to teach, whether I'd just persuaded myself, rather than feeling that I didn't want to teach. Now I'm remembering how energized I used to be in a classroom, how I did get something out of that experience. Maybe teaching and adjuncting are not the same thing - I suppose I just assumed that they were.

It's a tempting thought - that I can do something for a living that has some inherent rewards. But I wonder if I'm falling prey to the "grass is greener" syndrome, or if the life of a full-time instructor really is no different than an adjunct, or what. What do you guys think?
Posted by Arbitrista @ 2:07 PM
  • Hi,

    It really does seem to depend on your field. What you seem to be describing is a job at a community college.

    At my CC I have no publication requirements and am expected to do professional development that improves my teaching.

    If you end up applying to CC's we should chat about how they are different from 4-year institutions :).

    In terms of long-term instructor status, much of it depends on the school and the department. I've seen 1-year contracts and other arrangements given to people they want to keep around. These contracts are nice because they give you some security and benefits, but not the status or long-term safety of tenure. Other places, they really don't care who fills their classes.

    By Blogger Inside the Philosophy Factory, at 2:44 PM  
  • Some universities have teaching faculty -- teaching is 75 of their workload and the rest is service. Where I work, they're called clinical faculty. They are on renewable 6 year contracts. They teach 3 - 4 classes a semester (and the tenure track research faculty teach 1 or 2 classes a semester). They are paid similar to tenure track research faculty. They do a bit more service than the research faculty, too. However, there's this weird glitch that they can get their contract renewed, but cannot get promoted to associate (will stay at clinical assistant professor) until they accomplish a certain amount of research, even though they don't have research in their workload agreement... so that's a mess.

    Anyhow, I just wanted you to know that these sorts of jobs do exist. Whether you want one of them is a question I can't answer... I can discuss some of the tensions that have arisen with this sort of arrangement, but I'd rather do it more over email than in comments.

    By Blogger BrightStar, at 2:49 PM  
  • If it is possible, then I would at least explore it. I think you would be an awesome Politcial Science prof!

    I left the private sector to return to teaching, albeit as an adjunct. While I don't like the lack or pay and uncertainty, I think I would hate being a slave to research or publishing. I would love the idea of just teaching.

    I think B* and Philosphy Factory raise some great points. I would pick their brains for more info.

    By Blogger Seeking Solace, at 4:18 PM  
  • Depends on so many different things: field; culture of the institution; type of contract and institution. From what I hear, these jobs can range from ones I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, to pretty sweet deals for someone who feels as good about teaching as you do. You should definitely check into it. And, I'll go a step further: you might get a kick out of teaching high school civ or some such, too. I once hesitated at the thought of HS teaching, but I had many good years in it before moving on.

    By Blogger Ursa, at 8:16 PM  
  • Sounds like a solid line of work to pursue. It also sounds like, from the other postings, that this type of position will vary from institution to another. I have a friend who is an instructor in my College and she can only be employed in her position for 7 years without a terminal degree. I'm not sure how that works if you have a terminal degree. Additionally, it may be different in other Colleges at this university.

    I say go for it or at least explore this opportunity.

    By Blogger RageyOne, at 8:56 PM  
  • If teaching is something you long to get back to then it might be worth a shot. At the end of the day what is better than being paid to talk for 3 hours about your favorite subject? And for people to be hanging on your every word?

    By Blogger Wild Eyed Rose, at 11:19 PM  
  • I reckon the best way to find out whether this something you want to do is to try it :)

    By Blogger StyleyGeek, at 8:37 AM  
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