Alyson wrote this piece about life as an adjunct working in a community college in Washington State, and she's spot on what students crave, Teacher Presence, and the struggles of faculty in trying to provide exactly that, whether online, in a classroom, on the phone, in a meeting or even just walking across campus. And her observation that most faculty are good, and want to be better, in the face of high expectations, low compensation, and trying to get by, is also right on the money.
Lately, I've had a series of 'down to earth' talks with faculty and administrators, struggling with career direction and frustration, as anger seeps out, along with scarce resources, changing directions, and declining enrollments, all the while trying to manage expectations. To the long time adjunct who didn't get the job he thought he wanted, there was some interview coaching and job-search counseling. For those who unsuccessfully applied for a full-time position for their program, there was the speech about priorities, market conditions, timing, all the while recognizing that full-time permanent positions are as rare as hen's teeth.
Yet, this business is a people business, a talent business, and organizations, even poorly-funded public education ones, need to attract and retain the talented people to provide the Teacher Presence, and if they are to do what both the public and the education community say it is that they do, there has to be an investment in the people who do that. Like Alyson, I worry about it as well. It's tough out there. Yet, the good ones stick around and still do what they do in the classroom for the students, and still get the psychic juice they need from that. Good for them, and it's my job to support, encourage and nurture that. Hope I'm up to the task.