It must be nice to have Summer off

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.

Shut up Wesley

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.

What I did last Summer…

During most of the school term a lot of my friends ask me, “when does your Summer break start?”   As a teacher (with a long commute) a great deal of my life gets put on hold while I teach.   Projects, books to read, hanging out with friends, helping friends in need, playing games, housework, exercise….   I know what I need to do for self-care during the term, but I do end up with a backlog of things to do.

Ain't no cure for the Sparta time blues

So here is what I did last Summer, in no particular order:

  • Writing lists of things to do
  • Helped a friend move into her new house *
  • Batman:  Arkham Knight
  • A much anticipated cancer remission celebration **
  • Rescued a friend from a breakdown in the middle of an intersection
  • Binge watching NCIS
  • Help negotiate purchasing a more reliable car ***
  • Putting together my classes for fall.
  • Finally finishing three books on my yard tall “books to read” pile.
  • Walking (for an hour or two) with a crazy friend who decided that walking two and a half marathons was a good idea.
  • Driving my girlfriend to work, while her car was on the fritz.   ****
  • Getting a new teaching gig (!!!!!)
  • Putting together MORE classes for fall.
  • Fighting with unemployment, trying to convince them that “teaching in the fall” still is a conditional offer of employment, and they need to pay me more money.
  • See’s Candies.   Chocolati.  Theo’s Chocolate.
  • Photo shoot of Rory the Racoon at the Center of the Universe
  • Helping pull up scary orange carpet from a nice hardwood floor.
  • Spreadsheets, spreadsheets, spreadsheets!
  • Writing lists of things I’ve done, so I can feel like I was productive.

So, it has been a fun and interesting Summer.   I would have liked a few more “do nothing” days, but I have managed to stay busy enough to not go completely stir crazy.    The jury is still out on “crazy.”

As for now, I get ready to go back to teaching.   I’ll miss you, free time!


* Honestly, this is the third person I’ve helped move this year.   Enough is enough, already!

**  Wow, I was seriously holding my breath on this one!

*** It is more reliable, but the old car was much-loved.   It’s loss will be missed.

****  The car wasn’t universally loved.   But it did give me an excuse to hang out with my girlfriend (moderately incessantly) this Summer.

What I did last Summer…

Well, another quarter is ready to begin and I wanted to take a moment to reflect upon the Summer vacation.   Summer break is an interesting time for me.   I have been described as a man in motion:   I am constantly working, crafting, or otherwise immersed in activity.   Which makes extended breaks difficult.   This year, Summer is 6 weeks long.

Six.  Long. Weeks.

So here it is:   I applied for unemployment, and dutifully looked for work all Summer long.   And (hopefully) they’ll decide to pay me soon so I can pay rent again.      I will say that unemployment is not fun, for anyone.    I’m grateful it is there, but I will say that it doesn’t pay enough to live on.   Thank goodness for savings… and (sadly) credit.    The upside of being unemployed:   I got to spend time with friends and family.   I got to reconnect with a few old friends, I spent some time writing and doing some creative projects,  I got to help out a dear friend with “home improvement”, and ziplining from really tall trees.

For one of my creative projects I decided to write a murder mystery dinner.    Fun was had by all.

Here was my murder victim.    During the second act of the murder mystery, she haunted certain characters.

Here was my murder victim. During the second act of the murder mystery, she haunted certain characters.

And of course, there was home improvement for a friend.   “Home Improvement” for a dominatrix, by the way, means building cages.   Once I get this site set up for multiple bloggers, I have invited her to join us as a regular blogger.    I promise, I do not get to use her dungeon for my students… although I may fantasize from time to time.

This is what happens when you do home improvement for a dominatrix.

This is what happens when you do home improvement for a dominatrix.

Ziplining photos aren’t in yet.   I may end up posting new photos soon… or I may just leave some things a mystery.  The zipline adventure was a bit of a challenge, although my friends assure me that the bungee jumping will be scarier.

Bring it on, I say.   Bring on the bungee jumping, bring on the classes, and just generally BRING IT.

I’m ready.


Summertime Blues

One of the benefits of being a teacher is the educational calendar, and the many days off that one receives.

Let me put this another way… One of the downsides of being a teacher is the many days off that one receives.     I face a very careful balancing act over the summer, as I try to plan a few empty weeks with no income.   If I’ve done my work well, then I will have a bit of savings tucked away for the lean times… and over the longer breaks one can also collect unemployment.    So even though summertime is lean, it still is manageable financially.

The problem I face:   I don’t handle idle time well.

Mind you, I enjoy having time to myself…. and a few days of glorious inertia can be nice.  As a general rule though I am happier when I’m engaged in something active, something creative, or in the simple pleasures of deploying minions for world domination.    I need stuff to do, else my idle mind will start to run in circles like some psychotic-crack-hamptser.     And some hobbies can be expensive … (tell me, where did your mind go after that declarative?)

So now I get to engage in class planning for my summer quarter.    Which is fun, but I still wish I got paid to do.

And now, back to playing XBox.

P.S.   I said STUN!!!   That final was set for stun, not kill!

Idle hands

“Idle hands may be the devil’s work, unbridled minds you see are so much worse…”

– Type O Negative

There are some advantages and disadvantages to being an adjunct professor.   One truly mixed blessing is the time off between quarters.   It is true that having some additional time off is a nice perk… one problem though.   We don’t get paid for the time between terms.   Careful saving is a necessity, otherwise you can easily go broke while getting ready for the next teaching term.

As an adjunct you can sometimes collect unemployment, but the folks in both the unemployment office (and frequently the colleges themselves) will try to convince you that you shouldn’t…   Here is a tip for adjunct instructors:   Adjunct instructors do not have a “reasonable assurance of employment”.   All offers of employment are conditional, based on program changes, funding, and enrollment.     This is true in Washington State, but I don’t know what rules or regulations that other states have set up.

I do spend some time in between terms planning out my next quarter’s classes.   While the unwritten rule of teaching is that of unpaid overtime, it is a bad idea to work too much between terms… that way leads to madness, and teacher burnout.

So I play the lottery.   Not to excess, of course.   Also not because I think I have any realistic chance of winning, but because I want the license to dream.

During this break I’ve been designing my hollowed out volcanic lair.  Actually, I’ve been designing a building that looks like a volcano (complete with periodic “eruptions”) that I could build with a mega-jackpot.   So far, it has a greenhouse in the caldera of the volcano with the nickname of “The Garden of Evil”,  a lair for myself and my family,  additional quarters for guests and minions, office space where I can further my nefarious plans of world domination, and a cinema and gift shop at the ground floor.     Parking and dungeons are located in the basement.

I find myself asking questions like, what kind of kitchen goes best inside a hollowed out volcano?

Some of my family are starting to look at me funny.

Do you see what I mean about the mixed blessing of having too much time on your hands?