I know exactly what is going to happen . . . and I can’t stop it from happening.
This morning, I emailed four more people about jobs and started looking up what it’s going to take to apply for unemployment benefits when my teaching assistantship ends in May. The good news is I am pretty sure I will qualify for benefits, so I should have some kind of financial cushion for at least the summer until some of the fall part time jobs come open.
As I was putting the emails together this morning, I was reflecting on what it was like the last time I was an adjunct. Feast or famine pretty much sums it up.
During my first teaching job (the one that screwed me over for this summer) I didn’t know how to play the adjunct game. I only applied to teach at that one school since, you know, it was the only one in the town where I lived. I didn’t know that what you’re supposed to do as an adjunct is take a map of where you live and draw a circle representing the distance you are willing to drive in order to make enough money to eat.
This is where you apply for jobs – anywhere within that distance you are comfortable with the commute. (Or significantly uncomfortable with if you were, like I was back in the day, driving a standard transmission car with no air conditioning or power steering through the Sacramento River Valley during summer.)
It took me a year of slinging shots and mopping floors at a major coffee chain before I figured out I was supposed to apply everywhere within that un/reasonable circle. (In Redding my circle was rather large – one school 90 miles south and one 70 miles north that I often taught at on the same day. You do the math – I teach English for a reason!)
So this time I know, I understand how the game works, and with that knowledge I’ve applied to literally every school that is accepting resumes or applications for their part time teaching pools.
And this is how I’ve seen my future: fall semester is going to come and I am going to be overwhelmed with offers. Because of the panic I am in right now about not having a job, I have in all likelihood, put myself out there too much. Because the thing about contract teaching is you can’t say no.
Once an adjunct passes up an offer, it’s not like you go to the bottom of the list – you fall off it completely and then you’re not considered again. Or at least, that’s been my experience this far. I said no once last fall, when I knew if I started a THIRD teaching job on top of my online part time job and my assistantship, I wouldn’t have defended this semester.
Yes, I made the right decision turning down the daily classes they wanted me to teach.
Yes, I successfully defended my dissertation and have my Ph.D.
No, I don’t have a job. At least, not yet.
What I need to figure out now is when to say yes . . .