Okay, so yesterday I received an email from Giant Corporate University Online that I've finally passed muster and have been accepted into the loving arms of the faculty body. The process, beginning with the request for my resume May 16, has been ridiculously long. I have participated in nearly six months of "training," including several ever-smaller classes and finally teaching my first undergraduate class with someone watching over my shoulder. The last part was a good thing because I had an experienced faculty member to mentor me through the process.
Don't get me wrong. In this economy I'm happy to have another dribble of income. Every little bit helps and I'd really like to keep my car and keep The Girl's tuition current. The Man still isn't working, hay season is over, and we're living off of savings and 401K. We're not starving but that pool of money isn't unlimited. I'm working the community college gig again - 2 Psych 101 classes early MWF, leaving me the rest of the day to see patients or whatever. It's a fun job and I've done it enough now that the class basically runs itself. I have full autonomy to run my classes and my policies as I see fit and can be as hard ass as I please. Interestingly enough, the students meet every challenge I set for them and all of them say I'm their favorite instructor. The GCUO job pays a little more and I can do it in my jammies, but I have to do things in such a politically correct manner and have to worry about the faculty development team snooping around looking for things to hold against me. It's not paranoia if they really are out to get you...
The thing is, I'm just not excited about GCUO. The students didn't seem to have a clue about academic rigor, the importance of using APA format when writing papers (in pursuit of a psychology degree!? -SERIOUSLY??), or even what constitutes a scholarly reference. A couple of the students were adequate but most of them needed to go back to junior high to learn how to write - and use spell check - and follow instructions. They got mad when I insisted that they learn to use the library system, maintain a high level of academic integrity, and do their own work without the expectation that I hold their hands or do the work for them. Then they whined about what a big fat meany I was when they were surveyed. --Yes, GCUO sends out customer satisfaction surveys to the students - and oddly enough their survey responses held a very strong positive correlation to their grades - go figure. The experience reminded me of a phrase I heard once, "Never try to teach a pig to dance. It wastes your time and annoys the pig."
The next few months are going to find me launching my private practice and I may be scraping for patients at first. So I think what I may do is just teach a GCUO class here and there when I need extra cash and wean myself off the corporate teat as my business picks up. At least I'll know up front the challenges that I'll face in dealing with students in a university with an open enrollment policy and no placement tests to sort them by academic level. Send positive energy my way. I'll need it.