Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Prepping the new semester

I am close to done, but not completely done. Typical. I finished up my lit survey syllabus and my Fruit Studies syllabus and those are pretty much good to go, but I still have a lot to fix with my reading list and homework assignments for comp. Seems that we have changed our request format and now everything we ask for from the local community college gets shipped off to the state capital and then shipped back. Well, not quite that far, but it is ridiculous. I had wanted to get some readings in there related to law enforcement that were not "ooh, let's legalize pot." I don't need to read any more terrible 420 research papers, ok? This means I am still playing with readings and reading order and, well, procrastinating from making decisions. My first classes meet Friday, though (weird! I know!), so I am hoping I have time to wait and checkout these potential readings before printing and copying the final syllabus version. We'll see.

In other news, enrollment here is down, I am told. I don't know if this is a change in financial aid, or funding ability, or the recession is catching up with our students, or what. But this means that while my comp classes are packed to the gills (boo!) my lit and fruit classes are about 10 students each. Nice. Usually when I teach 4 classes I have about 120 students; this time it will be around 80. Much nicer for grading.

Oh, did I tell you I am teaching an overload, and thus 4 instead of 3 classes? They messed up (I guess since I have a class technically outside the department, in the Fruit Studies program, nobody remembers this and everyone signs me up to teach a regular load in both programs) but I need the money and they are not full, so I am ok with things. And besides, if my two *fun* classes hadn't hit 8 students each, I might have had them taken away from me and I don't know what they would have done at that point! I could be teaching extra sections of comp. Or not getting paid what my contract says. Who knows?

I guess that fewer students and smaller grading piles will give me a little extra time. Am I putting that time towards more job apps? Looking in to alternate careers? I don't know yet. Since the post-MLA market is generally community colleges and small schools with very low research expectations, I just don't really see the point in going back to my book or busting my butt doing more research. Sure, it's fun, but if I had the time, or was making the time to write alongside a nonacademic job, would I even do academic writing?

(Side note: at MLA I met up with several ex-bloggers ---- hello bloggers and ex-bloggers! *waves wildly* you should go back to blogging! ---- and one blogger introduced me to her friend, who I don't think knows that I write things on the web like this, and I must admit I said some pretty brutal and crushing statements like that to her. Sorry! If you don't know me and know that I bitch about academic exploitation all the time and have done so on the web for years, it can sound very harsh. Sorry about that. But, for a lot of us, going on the academic job market has amounted to a very expensive and pointless hobby, without any real payoff. it's true, but it is also very hard to hear when you are cheering yourself up at MLA.)

Anyway, this is all a long and tiresome way of saying that I might have a little extra time this semester, and I need to keep focus on using that time for the most important priorities rather than hiding from them.

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