What we can do instead of gaslighting by telling adjuncts ‘it was ever thus.’
As those of you who’ve been reading along (all 5 of you) know, I received my Ph.D. from USC’s English department in spring 2011. This past fall 2017 I started a tenure track job in interdisciplinary studies at California State University Dominguez Hills, my dream job, teaching a student population I love in my home city of Los Angeles. Between 2011 and 2017 I was an adjunct at Los Angeles area colleges and universities.
Because I got a tenure track job, at a place where I’d been contingent faculty, a friend suggested I write a blog post or even CHE article on getting hired from part-time adjunct into a full-time tenure track position. I demurred, in part because I think contingent faculty who want to move to the tenure track are far too likely to blame themselves and feel like they’re failing. I don’t want to contribute to that by enumerating the things I did or tried to do to stay in the job market as if doing those things is a path to success. I have my job because I was lottery-level lucky.
Here’s a few of the ways I had a lot of luck. First, I finished my Ph.D. in English in Los Angeles. Los Angeles has a large number of colleges and universities that don’t have their own Ph.D. students. This means it’s not that hard to break into the adjunct pool and it’s possible to get enough work across universities to keep body and soul together.… Read the rest
Just writing that subject line made my head spin a bit. After five years on the job market, fall without letters to request, job lists to study and applications to send out feels odd. Wonderful of course, but odd. I hadn’t realized it, but being on the job market had become part of my identity.
What else is strange? Not telling people I’m an adjunct lecturer, something I thought about today as I revised an article where I identified as an “adjunct instructor.” Likewise, it’s only been a few weeks since I took my Loyola Marymount faculty ID out of my wallet. My car still has a parking permit for West LA Community College on its windshield.
I think this strange feeling of not entirely believing I’m an assistant professor now is partly due to how long I adjuncted and partly due to my having been hired at a place where my status was “part time temporary” for two years. For years I’ve told myself and my family that being hired into a tenure track job would mean relocating, that my partner and I would be moving. But here we are, in the same Santa Monica apartment we lived in when I was a graduate student, thanking the gods for rent control. In addition, I worked in my program coordinator job at CSUDH until the Tuesday of my first week in the new gig. That crashing sound, I think, is me changing gears.
I’m almost moved into my office now. Just need to hang some pictures and for the bookcase to get fastened to the wall (earthquakes) so I can load my books into it. … Read the rest
First off, the weekly review. I did it, it was good and it only took two hours this week so things are improving. I’ve gotten some work done on the book review and in starting to package up my current job so I can hand it off cleanly to my successor in mid-August. Things are getting done in pretty much every area of my life. So that’s good.
Along those lines, I read about a system called ZTD (Zen to Done) on Robert Talbert’s blog as something that he uses to enhance his GTD practice, so of course I went and read the little book. It raised some interesting points about habit formation that I hadn’t considered before and made me think about how I tend to try and change many habits at once only to revert to my old ways when I’m under stress. There’s a lot to unpack there and much good content that I’m still thinking about.
it was the last point in the book, “Find Your Passion Habit” which said that if you make your passion your job then you’ll find doing work easy that I had an issue with. Because I am passionate about my job — both teaching and researching and yet I procrastinate about my writing my research, even though there’s nothing that interests me more than the work I do on Chicana feminist writers and editors. Despite (or perhaps because of this love) sometimes, oftentimes, I struggle when it comes to sitting down and writing my ideas.… Read the rest
GTD. Getting Things Done. I first heard about it on Bonni Stachowiak’s podcast, Teaching in Higher Ed. It’s a system to manage all the many things (tasks and projects) in one’s life. It’s been around for a while. I’m late to the party.
So first, why am I blogging about this when there are so many great bloggers who’ve used GTD for years, including Robert Talbert (another person I met through Teaching in Higher Ed) who’s written some great work on using GTD in academic life? It’s definitely not because I’m setting myself up as some sort of expert on the topic. In fact, I’m writing these posts about the process, or at least my process, of setting up a GTD system at the same time I’m transitioning from five years of adjuncting into a tenure track position as someone who’s new to the system and flawed in her execution of all things requiring habit and structure.
What motivated me to do this? I first heard about the system last winter, read the book and made a stab at it. It helped briefly, but I wasn’t committed enough (habits come hard for me), I didn’t trust the system to work, I tried to use too many new tools (yay tech!) at once and things fell apart, though I will say at least I never had hundreds of emails in my inbox again. But this past spring, just as the semester ended, something happened that shocked me and made me decide I needed and wanted to commit to GTD and its idea of a trusted system to Hold All the Things.… Read the rest
I told myself I was going to post about GTD (Getting Things Done) and how it’s working for me and that I was going to post weekly. So here goes.
Being at DHSI was enough of a hitch that the review that was supposed to happen last Friday didn’t happen until yesterday (Tuesday). I’m not sure if it was my resistance to the process, the accumulated emails from the week I was away or that I was coming down with a cold, but it took the best part of four hours to sort the various inboxes and get everything up-to-date. I found I wanted to jump in and do the things I was finding for fear of them getting lost — guess this speaks to me not trusting my system and being distracted by a number of current emergencies. I’m going to try and take email offline as I do the next review so as I write the two minute emails, more aren’t coming in and distracting me.
What I was pleased by was going through my lists how many things I’d done, even while being away. So that’s good. I keep imagining how much I would have enjoyed this system back when I did everything on Filofax. That said, Evernote is doing the job. I was especially pleased when I figured out how to make a Table of Contents page for the notes in my “projects” notebook.… Read the rest
It’s June and I’m posting my first post of 2017. This may be taking the idea of slow blogging too far. I’m writing from San Francisco Airport on my way to the University of Victoria for DHSI. I am excited.
So what’s happened to me so far this year? Spring was a blur. I got myself in over my adjuncting head by having too much to do. Between my admin work as program coordinator for the humanities MA programs and undergraduate GE courses at CSUDH, teaching three classes at two universities (LMU and CSUDH), being parliamentarian for CSUDH’s Academic Senate, and interviewing for tenure track jobs, I ended the semester by basically collapsing over he finish line. As the dust settles, I’m still picking up pieces of things I dropped along the way.
The good news (the best news!) is that after four years on the market, after applying for more 200 jobs, having 20+ interviews and campus visits, I have a tenure track job. In fact, I have what I believe in my heart is my dream job. Starting in the fall, I will be an assistant professor in the Interdisciplinary Studies department at CSU Dominguez Hills, a Hispanic Serving Institution. It’s a campus where a majority of students are students of color. I couldn’t be happier — I’ve loved adjuncting there. The bonus is I get to stay in Los Angeles, a city I love, where my family is and where my roots are. Paul also gets to keep his job and we can stay in our apartment in Santa Monica.… Read the rest
Follow-up to The day after.
My students came, even after them being told they could take a mental health absence. They came.
I started off the class nervous. Very nervous. I reintroduced myself, reminding them that I am a Chicana feminist scholar and what that means about my academic and personal politics. I told them Chicana/o studies is not neutral on issues of race, gender, sexuality and economic justice. I told them I was not neutral on this election. I also said that this was a space they could talk about the election, any fears, any plans, any questions.
There was nodding, but silence. So I went into my lecture on food and The Hunger Games. But in addition to the focus on food, we also looked at reality TV. Its cruelties and attractions. The discussion and lecture (I mingle the two) had gone on for forty five minutes, and had included discussion on the ways the United States was Panem when I got to my last slide. It asked them to talk about Donald Trump as reality TV star and how this image he had constructed informed the support for his run for the presidency.
Discussion came alive. Everything about the election, about Trump, about his personality and persona and his views was discussed. The students looked at the intersections of his support and what it meant and what it would mean. Their ideas were powerful and informed.
Then we took our break and the students started their presentations.… Read the rest
I woke up shaken from the election results. Although I have cried, especially when faced with any kindness today, I mostly feel and have felt hollowed out. As I’ve spent the day in meetings at CSU Dominguez Hills surrounded by people of color, mainly African Americans and Latina/x/os, I’ve wondered if everyone was feeling what I am. More people that usual said “how are you today?” (one said “How about those Yankees?” but meant the same thing) to each other, with each of us replying “I’m okay.” I said I was okay too because what else can I say? I’m not. This reality is about as far from okay as anything I can imagine.
Tonight is my evening class, an interdisciplinary study course on American society. This semester it’s a class on food and culture. Although the semester is in full swing (maybe even winding down) this class only started three weeks ago. It’s a hybrid course, meeting online and in person for eight weeks. My students are only just beginning to know each other. Last week we celebrated Día de Los Muertos together at Self HelP Graphics. It was a wonderful event I loved sharing with them. This week we are scheduled to talk about The Hunger Games, share food and learn a bit about WordPress.
But this morning I sent an email to my class letting them know we are meeting, that I understood if they couldn’t come but that if they did, we would have space to talk about what’s happened and to try and understand what it means.… Read the rest
This semester has a lot of firsts, a lot of new work. First, as I mentioned, I’m working full time at CSU Dominguez Hills as coordinator of the humanities program and instructor in Interdisciplinary Studies and Chicana/o Studies. I am not teaching anywhere else, so rather than having multiple bags for three different campuses I’m spending my days at Dominguez Hills. I have an office (pictures when it gets set up) of my own and am responsible for making sure other instructors have what they need. I’m trying to get to know the how administration works at CSUDH, learn how to make good administrative choices and understand the history behind the program I’m responsible for leading.
A lot of changes, but that’s not what this post is about.
Because the other new thing I’m doing is teaching a Chicana/o Studies course on the family and gender issues online. This is something different. It’s the first Chicana/o studies class I’ve taught online and the first time the Chicana/o Studies department at CSUDH has offered an all online class.
I confess, after I said I’d do it, I had a bit of a freakout.
Here’s why: first, on a pedagogical level, I wondered how to move Chicana/o studies pedagogy online. How to, within the LMS Blackboard (which I found out I have to use at CSUDH), create an environment where learning could come from the students to each other. So much of how Blackboard works seems to rely on the idea of the transactional classroom where the knowledge and assignments all come from the instructor.… Read the rest
I confess, I’m angry. I’ve been angry since yesterday when I read the letter written to first year students by the University of Chicago negating the idea of trigger warnings, safe spaces and student protest.
Kevin Gannon at the Tattooed Professor posted “Trigger Warning: Elitism, Gatekeeping, and Other Academic Crap” which explains in detail why the letter is bad policy and represents institutional elitism.
More pithy but on point is a tweet by Saladin Ahmed that captures U of C perfectly:
What I have to say is that trigger warnings, which I call “content warnings” make it possible for some students to take classes from me who otherwise could be hurt by them.
Why? Because some of the texts I work with are disturbing as hell. Not only that, but unlike the case of disturbing content in Antigone or other classics of Greek literature, there isn’t a corpus of secondary literature out there to warn, for example, that Alicia Gaspar de Alba’s Calligraphy of the Witch has brutal scenes of rape. Why would I begrudge someone fair warning that they’re about to read a dark and violent novel?
I can’t say I always thought this way. I didn’t think about it at all. But then I taught a darkly beautiful autobiography by Josie Méndez-Negrete, Las hijas de Juan, with sustained accounts of abuse, sexual assault and neglect.… Read the rest