Thursday, January 17, 2013

on community.

i spent four years as strictly an adjunct instructor.

being an adjunct is difficult. 

you are a part of the faculty, but in a diminished, displaced kind of way. you have no campus base, other than whatever division you are based out of.  you share a computer, printer, and everything else.  the only thing that is really and truly yours is your class and your mailbox.   you know some people, but most of the non-students milling around campus are foreign to you.  you have surface-level relationships with full time faculty and other adjuncts--you say hello, inquire about classes and vacations, but never really have a conversation.  you aren't quite faculty, but you still teach and do most of the things faculty members do--you just have to store everything in your car.

think of it as faculty-lite. 

then i got a full-time visiting scholar position.  and suddenly the community college where i teach became part of my actual community.

i got to know my colleagues.  we have actual conversations about more than just classes or SLOs.  we laugh a lot.  we discuss big issues and tiny little bits of minutiae

this part is so foreign to me, and i struggle with it every day.  i'm not used to having "work friends".  for the better part of five years i have been pretty isolated at work--just me, my students, and an occasional full-timer stopping by.  suddenly i'm surrounded by people who know my name and want to know about me and what i think.  it's pretty weird.  but also pretty cool. 

part of this is probably just the very fact that adjuncts are constantly on the move.  they often teach at multiple schools and spend little quality time on any one campus.  the opposite is true of full-time faculty.  yes, we have the same breaks and vacations, but we also have campus homes that allow us to hang out a little longer. 

i'm lucky in that i have two campus homes.  when i was brought on full-time, i was asked to be the designated english faculty at one of our community campuses--a smaller version of the main college campus where i've spent the last four years.  with that appointment came an office.  and a second office at the main campus so that when i have meetings i have a place to land.

my campus homes aren't much--in fact my main campus office is a bit drab (i'm not really there enough to justify making it lovely)--but they are mine.  my own private little space in a sea of people.

all this is to say that this week i feel fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful, funny people who have begun to think of me as one of their own and to have my own little islands of solitude where i can work, play, and get away from it all when i need to.

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