Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Case for Teaching Part-Time at the University Level

During a networking event last week a new acquaintance asked me why she should teach part-time at a local university. I’ve written on my blog and published elsewhere about my adjunct teaching experiences. But I’ve yet to make the case for part-time teaching. After reflecting on the topic here’s my concise response.  

It’s not the pay that attracts adjunct instructors.  You’ll find an hourly wage that's barely above the minimum at some institutions.  That rate covers preparation, teaching time, student meetings, grading, and other activities.  It does not include time and expenses associated with travel. 

How about prestige?  An association with a well-known educational institution could lend you some. But the part-time university instructor is low on prestige and perquisites. That’s regardless of education, skill, and passion for teaching.

No, it’s not about money or glory.  It’s a lot more than that. It’s about loving learning and wanting to share it. It’s about shaping others’ perspectives on your subject. It’s about being a showman, entertainer, and ringmaster all rolled into one.

Teaching is also about practicing, polishing, and mastering a skill set. You need to learn to evaluate instructional needs, develop a syllabus, design lesson plans, and advise students.

The bottom line, for me, at least, is the connection with the students. It’s witnessing the glimmer in their eyes when they’ve excited by a topic.  It’s hearing the ahas from new insight gained during a role-playing activity. 

I relish these experiences. I suspect that most instructors who’ve taught as long as I have do so as well.  That’s why we continue to seek out the classroom. I believe that’s why my new acquaintance should as well. 

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