Thursday, August 20, 2009


I went to the part-time instructor's orientation yesterday at the community college, where I'm going to start teaching on Monday (gulp!). I'm more or less ready, I've given up the idea of being fiendishly ahead in terms of lecture in favor of being a couple of weeks ahead and able to think of those in class assignments that will relieve some of the drudgery of lecture.

There were a lot of people there. The first part was just for the department, which is natural and environmental sciences. It seems the lead instructor is the only full time faculty member; the rest are adjuncts. I can't believe this is a profitable way for a community college to go. There are, let's see, about 7 adjuncts teaching biology. I guess I look at it in terms of me possibly getting a full time job someday, and the odds just seem overwhelmingly against it, even though I think I would like it and do well.

The second part of the orientation was college-wide, and there were about 100 people there, all part-timers. Probably 2/3 were returning. They had most everyone except for the new president (who I guess hasn't started yet) come out and say a few words. I was impressed by the resources available to these students. Writing, note taking, stress management, tutoring, if a student shows any initiative at all, and nothing weirdly unexpected happens (which sometimes does), he or she should be able to get their two years of schooling and get on with life.

I'm pleased to be part of this. Colorado doesn't seem (and this is just my opinion) to support higher education to the extent that some other states do. My brother works for a community college in Minnesota, and they really seem to have it going on. It's presented as this really viable option for students who don't want or need a 4 year degree, or who want specific training. In his department, there are 4-5 full time faculty, and the students go through a program that leads to a certificate or associates degree.

I guess biology at the community college level isn't really a stand alone thing, like other subjects. You take your biology courses on the way to getting some kind of specialized training.

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Hi, sorry to make the humans do an extra step.