Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I have a secret, and I can't tell anybody...

That is all I am thinking as I walk down the halls, as I teach my classes and meet with my students. As people stop me in the halls to ask how my weekend went, and as I attend a special emergency faculty meeting, all I can think about, obsessively, is I have a secret, and I can't tell anybody! 

This feels so weeeeeeeeeeeeird.

Except some of them know... I just don't know how paranoid to be about how many people know already. My tenure review committee is not supposed to say anything, but I assume some people talked. I think that some of the people who have never warmed up to me shared that feeling with certain committee members who then kept them in the loop with my non-renewal. But fit is fit and if they really wanted me here they would have done something different, given me more time to turn around my student evaluations etc. And they are probably right that I do not fit so what am I going to do?

That's a real question --- what does one do when one is nonrenewed? It's not like there is a chapter of etiquette on Miss Manners about this. It's just this weird awful burden I am constantly carrying around wishing I could tell people about. But what good would that do? That would just make the relationship/interaction awkward on both sides, and possibly lead to people coming together against me, talking me down so that they could feel better about pushing me out. And since I have to apply out again I don't want anything out there making it even harder to get a new job than it has to be. But, man, from here to the end of the school year is looooooooong. I don't know how long I can keep that up or how much I can disengage from the school with so much lead time. And I don't know how to handle social events: avoid the subject, straight-up lie, just don't go?

And I haven't told anyone in my family. That'll make Christmas break fun.

I'm leaning toward not telling them anything about this until I get a new job set up, if ever. But then that's a lot to keep in and not tell them and I have a lot of past shit that I haven't told them or that we're not speaking about, and it sucks to add even more to the pile.  And my dad is getting to the place with his Alzheimer's that I'm not sure he will understand whatever I tell him, just be confused and worried and upset. Nope, I'd rather try to solve this problem on my own than explain it to family.

But that just leaves me wandering around with this weird invisible weight: I have a secret, and I can't tell anybody...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

I don't get it:

I am looking through ads in the Chronicle and saving and printing things and I ran across this ad, and have spent about 20-30 minutes clicking all over their website trying to in any way get it.

Not that I'm trying to apply for it; it should be clear from 5 minutes of knowing me or reading me that there is no way I would "fit."

I'm just trying to wrap my head around it. Is this really a thing? A thing that people pay insanely expensive tuition for and then get a paying job at the other end? Is it woo? Is it a scam? (Dude, SF Art Institute, you are totally a scam. Unless you can produce placement lists of more than half of your graduates straight into Pixar or whatever other high-paying job you've got, you are totally overpriced for your degree field and in one of the most expensive cities ever.)

Anywhoo, at least I get what an art school or a culinary school is. This thing ... Hmm.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

When "it's not us, it's you."

Le Sigh.

Ok, I am going through many many emotions about this turn of events, but I am not too sad. It is a question of fit, and I agree with that. To tell the truth, I was idly thinking about selectively applying out this year anyway, but I am also overworked and tired and trying really really hard to adjust myself to the location, community and local students --- to bloom where I'm planted. The frustrating, humiliating thing is more that they got to release me first, and I have to admit that I have failed at something, rather than I get to spring on everybody my move to someplace bigger and better (or at least better fitting me).

Oh yeah, I haven't told any family or friends yet. Sigh. It would just be better if I had been able to announce job interviews and a new position first. I might still do that.

The biggest emotion I am struggling with by far, of course, far more than anger or sadness or even relief, is PANIC PANIC PANIC OMG I WILL NEVER WORK AGAIN AND WILL STARVE IN A DITCH BEING GNAWED ON BY MY CATS AIIIIIIIGH!

Yeah, I wouldn't work out well in a high-risk, high-turnover job. I totally need the 9-monhth extended job interview season to plan that far ahead and ride the waves of alternating panic and euphoria.

Thing is, if I am not a good fit here, then I am not a good fit many many places ---- and I am at the mercy of whatever jobs get posted in a market that has only gotten shittier and scarier with time. I have also gotten much more picky, now that I have a job. I mean, I don't any more as of next year, but it is not so quick to undo my whole raising of standards and expectations thing.

See, I am in the West. And I like that. And I am in a town, and I have found my smallness limit. And I am not toooo far from family to drive although hopping on a regional aircraft would be easier. Ooh, and I'm right here at a regional airport. So when I looked through the Chronicle and IHE for a quick pass through of jobs that haven't closed already .... dude, a lot of your jobs out there kinda suck. I'm just not interested in moving to the midwest to a tiny town and a school that is only 1000 students and is 2 or 3 hours from a major airport. I did the whole three-transfers-and-a-full-day-of-flying to go visit family in CA and got tired of it. And to be harsh and brutally honest (probably the reason I am being nonrenewed) I bet that a tiny private nonselective school that I have never heard of and that has nothing around it would probably have the same standards, and thus I run into the same problems, as my cc. On top of that, I am already used to my lovely CC salary and small privates seem to pay much less. And the place I posdoc-ed started the Asst Prof in English at 47K when I was there, so I know things are low.

But on the other hand, if I am not a good "fit" for this community college, and it's just me, like me as a person or some fundamental aspect of my personality, then how would I get any other community colleges to take a chance on me? Wouldn't I be a bad fit there as well? Most of the MLA type market has passed already, so I was assuming I would apply out to the ccs that are closest to my family's home. I am not qualified to get into a four-year school's writing program except as a lecturer (no comp/rhet PhD) and those pay way less. And my family is in the Bay Area, so even if I were to land one of those CA cc jobs I am looking at struggling to make ends meet and never buying a house or anything. Argh. Sigh.

So I am mentally constantly whizzing back and forth between terror and feeling that I have some sort of fundamental personality flaw that will prevent me from even barista-ing at Starbucks and feeling like the jobs listed are a step down, or at least a step away from what I want. I just have this thought that I shouldn't be going backward in lifestyle, you know? I'm sure that as unemployment looms closer I will change my tune on this, but it's just adding to my sluggish response in finding some apps and dusting off my job materials.

Yeegods and I'm gonna have to figure out how to address this in a letter and references too. And I think I let my Interfolio account lapse. Dammit.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Huh, fired.

I've been told I won't be asked back here next year. Huh. I mean, I expected the worst when my meeting was postponed, but somehow I thought it wouldn't happen.

I'm feeling so many different feelings I'm just frozen and shutting down.




Uh, what?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Dead man walking?

People, we were supposed to have another tenure meeting here ---- at a cc, you don't have research expectations so you get measured by being observed a fuckton of times and have a pile of meetings. Anyway, I was supposed to be called in for the second half of the meeting and it went on so long that they asked me if they could move the meeting with me to another day when they were free. I assume that this is bad news. It also instantly took all the relaxation and joy out of my vacation I had just come back from and put me right back at the same level of stress as before leaving. Ugh.

And of course I haven't applied out for anything because I assume, what with the continued decline of English jobs and all, that having no publications from the last 5 years and tons of teaching, esp. at a cc, makes me not competitive for university jobs. And it is not yet the season for community college job apps, which I think I would be competitive for. Ugh. In the good news, The Hot Place is being pounded by rain. We don't do things by halfsies here, that's for sure.

Also, I should be just pounding through these annotated bibliographies I just got but so many of the students in this early morning class didn't even try to do the assignment correctly --- note to self: don't let them know you are going to let them revise until they have handed in the assignment --- that I have sputtered to a stop. I sure hope the other classes are better.

And while I am complaining, today I once again had a bad intro to the novel day in my other comp class. I'm just not used to lecturing after a semester of really putting the discussion on them, or more exactly, they couldn't handle staying awake and doing a more lecture-based discussion after a semester of them doing group work and worksheet questions. But I know that since they had just turned in a paper to me over break, I can't expect them to be up on the reading (some of them were, it was clear, but it was also clear that a lot were seeing the first page of the novel for the first time when I read it to them. I had this same problem teaching the novel before ---- and I sorta fixed it for last spring but that was a MWF schedule and I had to change everything yet again back to the T/Th schedule format.

I'd think more about how to fix that but I am teaching different classes next semester ---- you know when those syllabi are supposed to be due to the printshop? Yesterday! Ugh! We did a new thing where their enrollment times are waaaaaay earlier in the semester (I guess to capture higher enrollment, but how many of those students will get dropped from those classes when they fail the prereq and need to take it over again?) and so for some reason that means the syllabi also need to be submitted super early. Since all I needed to do was update the dates on the schedule for the  froshcomp class, I turned that in, but I have barely even started thinking about the two new-to-me classes yet! I haven't even read through all the textbook yet!!

Don't even get me started on the emails pouring in. Most of them I am quite glad to see, because it is a sign that the student has really started taking the research project seriously, but when I get a dislike of a student or we have a rough interaction, and then they email me, it affects how I approach my inbox. I start to get procrastinatory and avoid the whole situation. I know, I know, this is a very bad habit.  Sigh. I should close up the blogging for the night and force myself to cull through my emails and send some reasonably timely replies.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Maybe that's not how you'd want to be honored, sir...?

I found this unfortunate title while helping a student investigate the history of hunting in America. Damn, that's a pretty brutal festschrift tradition! That or someone needs a grammar review.

Monday, November 17, 2014

*Whine* I don't wanna do work! *Whiiiiiine*

Well, this sucks. After a very nice relaxing weekend doing nothing teaching-related, I pretty much wasted away today. I took all day doing my required benefits counseling meeting and doing some, but not much, class prep. I have many things to do, all of which require Unpleasant Confrontations, like email people "no" about their topic proposals and respond to angry comments about the last essay grade and resolve a weird grading problem. So I am ignoring them. But, I am now mucho stressed out and have undone all my previous weekend relaxation. It is a bad sign when your week hasn't really started yet and you are longing for the next weekend. Ugh.

I would cancel and move things around this week to do individual conferences if it were at all possible, since we are at the weird point of the writing process, but I had to schedule half of our library introduction on one day of the week and half on the other day. Theoretically, it is nice, because we can do a nice small research stint and then bring in the results --- like an article or some newspaper articles --- in on the second day as a homework assignment. But, practically, it is a week that doesn't have a whole lot for them to do that is directly relevant for their next step in the assignment process. Really, they need to just go off into the library and just do it. But since I have an hour with them beforehand I am doing a little lecture and some worksheets. Ugh. Meh.

Have any of you taught comp from Writing from Sources? I really like it --- especially since it drums quotation formatting down into the ground and the students here really need that --- but the research chapters need fixing: they have these incredibly long and multi-paged detailed exercises, and if you don't want to do all of the exercises you end up assigning 40-page chapters and then asking the students to hunt and peck among these long sample articles for the actual explanations sprinkled throughout. Not that that early morning class is cracking the book, I'm sure. Anyway, those exercises are sooooo reading-heavy (the wikipedia one has 12 pages of source material to read) that they don't work very well in class, and I don't want to assign them as the actual essay because then I would be reading the same damn essay like 90 times, so I have trouble with the class time leading up to the annotated bibliography.We will go over citation and plagiarism and do some worksheets, which I avoid the rest of the semester since it feels very high school/lower-level thinking schools, and also I generally have worse behavior and resistance when I make them do worksheets than when I make them do unusual or creative critical thinking type projects.

Today I also had lunch with some of the other instructors, and I like them and certainly I was glad to hear them complaining about a really bad batch of papers and suddenly they have had to resort to giving Ds and Fs, but also they make me worried. They still have 29 or 30 students in each of their classes --- why have mine dropped so much? They say their students come to class "most of the time" but I am unclear what exactly that means --- are those students still handing in the major essays? Even if I don't count the students with erratic attendance, I have a handful or two that are missing essays ---- which is grounds for an F in my class and I believe dept. policy. Also, have they figured out some way to not have their students be hostile and misbehaved, or do they just not ever mention that in their complaints? And they reassured me that we all think we end up in a grading bubble and worry that we are not in tune with our colleagues, but really we pretty much are ---- but what if that's not true? I think I'm just as worried as I was before I ate with them and let off steam. 

I am now officially freaking out about my upcoming tenure committee review meeting. Cue chewing on nails and ulcers gnawing on my gut.