Of all the banal and untrue things said to me, this one garners a balanced reaction between laughing maniacally, sobbing hysterically, or calmly and thoughtfully stabbing the speaker while explaining the realities of an adjunct on “Summer Vacation.”
First off, the reality of being an adjunct instructor (at least in my state) is that if you aren’t teaching then you aren’t getting paid. Unlike full time professors our pay doesn’t get distributed over the entire year. Our contracts are limited to one term at a time, which means that when finals are over…. hope you have savings!
While it is technically true that an instructor can pick up part time work between quarters, it isn’t a simple prospect. Also, you can collect unemployment … but you can count on unemployment agencies to misconstrue having classes lined up for the next quarter as having “a guarantee of work.” Washington State has privatised, which just seems to make them less helpful. Tip for instructors: you will need to emphasise that classes are a provisional offer of employment, based on enrollment, funding, or program changes, and do not construe a reasonable assurance of future work. I have taken to bringing copies of class cancellation notices to these meetings. Also, if you are teaching less than half time you can (hypothetically) collect part of your unemployment as well.
So once you know you aren’t going to starve, then there is the other difficulty: you will need to work on prepping your next term. Teaching isn’t just lecturing and grading, there is a lot of planning every single term. Buckle up, because unpaid overtime is coming! For me, it means scheduling my topics, setup of my online resources, and writing/updating my exercises.
Teaching often has odd hours, especially if you teach at multiple schools, so there are a lot of other projects that we put off until between quarters.
My “time off” is spoken for this Summer.
So maybe instead of saying stupid things to teachers, why not buy us a cup of coffee and thank us instead.