You Need CC Experience

I have a brilliant student, very young (20), and fixing to graduate who, despite the explanations and remonstrations of her major professors, wants to go on to get her master’s and PhD. She knows the numbers are against her, especially as she is interested in literature, but she wants to pursue the education. I am sure she will do well at the education portion.

I was reading over something and found a link to the item below and thought she should know it. So I copied it. Then I thought maybe someone else would need it too. Here it is:

8 years of adjuncting at CCs and one year in a ft position:

Previous CC experience
CCs have a huge load of students. Often these students are the ones who don’t have the skills to go to college. They need basic remediation for math and English. CCs are open-admit, so if you got a HS diploma from somewhere, then you can attend. Very few four-year schools are like that (though University of Houston Downtown is). The reason CCs want you to have CC experience is because most graduate students teach to their own, often R-1, population. If you don’t have CC experience, you don’t have the correct mindset.

I tell people when I talk about my inner-city school that my students come in with an eighth-grade education. It is hard for them to read newspaper articles. Imagine going from R-1 to that in one semester.

No specializations
There are no specializations at CCs. They don’t hire enough ft faculty for that. Plus, you will usually find that you and someone else in your department both want to teach all the X courses, because there are only two a year.

Example out of English: Out of 16 ft faculty at my present school, only one has a rhet/comp background. Every one of the ft teachers has to teach composition. All the other 15 are lit people. We only teach 30 lit sections a semester. CCs typically (around here anyway) have 5/5 loads. So there are only 2 lit sections per person. My CC works hard to share the courses; unfortunately sometimes that works out to the bad. We have a theater owner/director who is also a ft faculty here. He agreed two years ago to let someone else teach the drama course and he hasn’t gotten it back. 

The largest set of classes in English and math are the remedial courses. We have developmental courses for people who don’t know that a sentence should start with a capital letter and end with a period. Most math teachers teach at least two of the remedial courses a semester. And they teach college algebra most often. 

My last CC shared out the course load so that the four math sequences went to one teacher every two years. So ProfA would teach college algebra, trig, pre-cal, and calculus. Then in fall of the next year, ProfB would begin that sequence. Bad for students if you got a teacher you didn’t mesh with. You’d have to wait a year to get someone else.

Hiring process
Most CCs do not advertise for positions until the spring. I’ve seen ending dates for applications as early as March and as late as August, for an August start date. The job I have now did not advertise till late June and did first on-campus interviews on July 12. Final interviews were July 22. They called ten days later with an offer and work started August 15.

In a good location, CCs can get hundreds of applications. The job I did not get last year told me there were 250+ applicants.

If you don’t have any CC experience, you won’t usually make the cut.

When there are 250+ applications, what makes your app stand out? The same thing as at any place: conferences and publications. The publications don’t have to be top flight, but you do have to have some.

For the phone interview CCs call 20 or so people. 

First interviews are 8-10, though I have heard of as many as 14.

Final interviews are for 3. Who makes the decision on the final one varies. At one CC it was the search committee, as long as the higher-ups did not disagree. At my CC it’s the deans, as long as the president is okay with it.

compdoc. “Re: Posting Hall of Fame–Reply 2343.” chronicle.com, 23 December 2010, www.chronicle.com/forums/index.php/topic,30991.2340.html.

HOF: CV Mistakes

From “Ten Worst Things to put on your c.v.”:

Quote from: theblondeassassin on July 07, 2011, 2:57:18 AM
Quote from: madhatter on July 07, 2011, 1:21:06 AM
Quote from: southerntransplant on July 05, 2011, 5:59:02 PM
On academic CV:

“Health: Good”

I was always taught that if your health is listed on a resume as anything other than “excellent,” you would be considered gravely ill.

That does it. I’m adding to my cv “Health: In Progress.”

Ah yes, we could have an entire new lexicon:

In progress: I am trying to stop drinking, overeating, etc.
Submitted: I have a doctor’s appointment
Under review: I am undergoing a series of medical treatments
Revise and resubmit: I have a major operation scheduled shortly
In press: I am in the morgue
Published: See my obituary for more details

from 2clueless

Because, seriously, we need more humor in our lives.

Job Search Advice from the Search Committee: Hmm…

The Chronicle of Higher Ed has an article from a Search Committee member called The Deja Vu of Today’s Application Files.

I read it with interest… especially noting the idea that all the letters/applications were very formulaic.

Then I read this:

Next in the files came the teaching statements, which often seemed to start with quotations—for example, quoting Confucius on teaching—that were cute but told me little about the person. Most of the quotations ended with something about being inspiring to students.

It’s safe to say the teaching statements were meaningless. All of the applicants professed to have some experience showing great teaching skill, or at least great interest in students and teaching. Certainly search committees expect candidates to say positive things about teaching. Certainly, too, committees at research universities sometimes attract people who are not the least bit interested in teaching or students. But one original thought on teaching would be refreshing. How will teaching complement your research or service? Succinctness is a virtue to people reading candidate files. These statements, too, don’t need to be a full page, and shorter ones are bound to be read more intensely.

I opened up my job search packages and the SHORTEST teaching philosophy statement I wrote was two pages long, single spaced. None of them started with a cutesy quote and none of them ended (though at least one began) with inspiring students. In fact, one of them ended with examples of how students have inspired me.

Maybe my long-windedness made me stand out. Or maybe it was just that I didn’t do the formulaic, so people noticed.

Don’t Be Yourself

Don’t be yourself–be someone better!

This is actually the standard advice from self-help gurus everywhere, yet, in academia, it is not the standard advice for job seekers.

Karen Kelsky wrote last year “The ‘Be Yourself’ Myth” in which she said that being yourself, the nervous you without a specific agenda, perhaps still very much a fledgling PhD or perhaps (as others of us are) a full-time wife and mother entering or re-entering the field (talking to you, @readywriting! and myself and many others, I am sure), is not a good plan.

Instead the tt job seeker should be someone else–someone prepared, someone confident, someone who has it all together and can wow the search committee.

One specific thing she said rang my bell as if I were inside the church bell tower that tolls every hour two blocks from my house. She said you need to have formulated and ready to spiel:

A clear and specific trajectory of publications. You will map an “arc” of publications that links past, present and future. You will say something like: “As you saw from my C.V., I have two refereed journal articles published on this body of work in the Journal of X and Journal of Y. I have another in revise-and-resubmit stage at the Journal of Z. Beyond that, I am finalizing my book manuscript, and am speaking with editors at Duke and Chicago about a contract. I expect that to be complete in spring of next year, and after that I am planning two more articles based on material that didn’t make it into the book. Those publications will complete the publishing arc of this work, and I will then move on to my second major project.” You will have this answer prepared for all interviews regardless of rank of the institution.

This is something I did not have–and it made a difference at SLACs and CCs.

It made a difference, even when the Search Committee themselves hadn’t published anything in years. It made a difference, even when that was not the focus of the college. It always made a difference.

Why does being a prepared, publishing machine matter?

There are too many PhDs who are available for full-time work.

This is why universities can say (and often get away with hiring) a recently minted PhD with several years left on their expiration date.

It’s why SLACs can require and receive tt applicants with CVs as long as thirty year veterans on their present tt path.

It’s why the final round of interviews at CCs are always folks with publication notches on their belts.

What does your publication spiel sound like when you aren’t a superstar?

It’s along these lines:

After hiring, it is still important.

I am not totally sure I have a publication spiel now, although I can tell you what my most recent work has been. And my most recent work involves two books, so that’s not bad. (It would be better, I am sure, if they were Cambridge UP and/or Routledge, but they will definitely count at my SLAC.)

It is still important because:
1. You don’t have tenure, even though you are on a tt.
2. Downsizing happens, especially in economically problematic times.
3. If things don’t work out, you need to be able to move.

Relevant previous posts related to this topic:
How to Get and Put Publications on Your CV
Find out what Search Committees are thinking about what they see on your CV in Too Far Afield?
How Long Did It Take For Me to Get a Job?
Employment Advice from a Two-University Search Committee Member

Paying Attention to Detail

We learned as students that we needed to pay attention to details, otherwise our grades suffered.

We learned as graduate students that we needed to pay attention to details, so we would know how to answer that (doesn’t sound like but absolutely is) loaded question at our defense.

We learned as job candidates to pay attention to details or our résumés never left the trash pile.

We learned as professors to pay attention to details so that we had all the documentation needed for plagiarism issues’ meetings with students (and/or the dean over those same issues).

An article on why paying attention to detail doesn’t just make the grade, get you out, get you a job, and keep the job relatively safe, but also makes you GREAT. (And I’m sure that same attention to detail will get our blog posts read and our journal articles published.)

I wonder if paying attention to details, assuming you know enough to pay attention to the right details, is the dividing line between good and great. Thinking back over my life, trying to decide when things I did were great, I’m not sure.

Right now I am working on an iBook (okay, the “right now” is metaphorical, but I am in the process of doing this) and I want to make it great. I want it to be amazing. But I am a single person with a very busy life and a brain that may sometimes be taking a slow boat across town–even though I live in a land-locked area–and I haven’t had the time to make it all great. But I have tried to make one part of it significantly better than absolutely any other English textbook they have ever held in their hands.

I wonder if it will be great? Will the attention I’ve paid to the details in that aspect make only that aspect great or will that attention expand to fill the quality of the entire book, so that the whole book is great?

I don’t know.

And I can’t think of another thing I have done that I think was “great.” Has it made a difference to the good/great divide in your life? On what project or in what way?

I really want to know.

CC v SLAC: One Year Each

Overview of two ft positions, one non-tt, one tt:
I guess, having looked at the work I did as an adjunct (2009-2010) and as a full-timer, I am actually doing more in my new tenure-track position (2011-2012, 2012-2013) than I did in my full-time community college position (2010-2011).

I was concerned, having been at Houston Baptist the year before–when the provost laid off long-term faculty in job lots, that my CC job would not continue long-term. However, they did hire to replace me, so I guess it would have. Also, while one CC system in Texas was closed by the legislature, Houston Community College is vibrant and growing, serving a huge population, and appears to be in no danger.

I did not receive a raise at the SLAC this year, which I would have at the CC.

I do have my own office, which I would not at the CC–even though I often had the eight-person office to myself, but this year the CC moved everyone to a new building and into cubbies in a single office for all the English professors.

The SLAC said I would teach a grad course a year and have a 3/4 for the grad course; this has not worked out. Instead, I have only taught part of one grad class. There was no reduction for the course, but I only had to meet the class for five weeks, have the students observe me, and grade one long and two short papers.

The only committees I was on at the CC met once a semester, maximum, and almost all the work I did depended on myself alone, so that I did not have to attend meetings. (The only exception were QEP meetings.) Even our department, the largest in the CC, only met one time a semester. At the SLAC, on the other hand, they apparently believe in meetings for everything. This week alone I have missed four departmental, college, and university meetings; I will make another one scheduled for today.

Both the CC and the SLAC paid for one conference a year. I received more money from the CC, so I was able to plan to go to a bigger conference. However, the SLAC has monies available, if you meet the early and not well advertised application deadline, there is some supplemental conference money. If I had a national conference (which I did last year), I could also apply for presidential funds. This year, though, I am only a chair at a national conference, so I don’t expect to have that paid for and I am fairly sure that I will have spent my conference money before then, even though I am driving to both the other conferences and staying with my father for one of them.

My colleagues at the CC were friendly and helpful. Several of them were very encouraging. I adored the departmental secretary, who was stolen by force and sent to another department this year. The chair was amazing at keeping politics away from the rest of us; he retired last year, upon having a major medical issue, so he is gone, though.

My colleagues at the SLAC are friendly and helpful. Several of them are very encouraging. I know people in administration. I was assigned a mentor my first year who I knew as an undergraduate and we get along well. We have met socially outside of school functions.

Students at both schools were very motivated. There were different preparation levels, but the courses also required different loads.

Composition Courses at Both:
I taught developmental writing at the CC. I had four classes which met four hours a week each. The students wrote six papers, all in the 2-3 page range, and we did them as a process, so that I saw multiple drafts of each.

At Houston Community, I taught in the computer lab. I was scheduled for all my courses in the computer lab for my second year and the chair made my schedule so that I would have an extended lunch time to meet my father for lunch each day, if I wished.

I teach fyc at the SLAC. I teach the mid- to lower-range student here. All the higher level students have tested out or taken the course as dual credit. We have a requirement of four papers a semester, most in the 4-6 page range. We do them as a process and I see multiple drafts of each. However, my students actually compose six essays: one diagnostic essay, three 1200-word essays, and two 800-1000 word essays. In addition, they compose a group digital essay and an individual computer-animated essay.

Based on yesterday’s post, I obviously need to see about revising this schedule.

For the second semester fyc at the SLAC, the students write an annotated bibliography of sixteen works (full page of annotations for each) and a research paper, so the four pages end up being: 4-6, 4-6, 16, and 10-12.

None of my classes at the SLAC are in a computer lab, but most of my students have computers or iPads that they bring to class. Those who do not have computers are able to use the computers in the library, which can be checked out and used in the learning commons area.

You can see that the grading load at the SLAC, even though I teach fewer papers, is quite a bit higher.

Technology:
As I mentioned, the courses at my CC were in a computer lab. The courses at the SLAC require students to have their own mobile devices for papers.

My first semester fyc courses at the SLAC have two digital compositions. One is a group analysis of a commercial. The students write an evaluation of the commercial individually after the analysis is complete. The second is an individually created Xtranormal video, using Xtranormal’s software and pre-set stages, voices, and actors, proposing a solution to a problem. Then they write a justification essay over their proposed solution composition. It covers both their solution and their choices in Xtranormal.

Outside of Class Contact:
At the CC, I answered emails and had ten office hours a week. Students came in to my office rarely and generally only when I required them to.

At the SLAC, I am required to respond to emails within 24 hours. I have seven office hours a week. Students come in to my office occasionally and when they do, they tend to stay for about an hour. They also come in for required, regular conferences. (Two a semester.) I have the fyc students to my home, an expectation of the university. I also give them my cell phone number. Or I intend to. This year I gave them both mine and, accidentally, my husband’s. So far they have not abused that and they don’t call after 9 pm or before 9 am–the hours I established.

Exhaustion.

I am overwhelmed by the work I am doing. I am not sure it is more than I have done before, but I am just too busy to even sit down and think most days.

So, I decided I would try to figure out what I was doing and what I had done and see if I just forgot how busy I was before.

2009-2010:
Three years ago I taught a 5/5/2 load; wrote and had published six articles, two reviews, one chapter, and one book; created and published a digital poem; gave ten conference presentations, seven of which were national or international conferences; mentored a new PhD through multiple conferences; read entrance exams for the graduate business department; served on the writing committee; spent six hours a week in office hours; held those office hours on a couch after the hurricane destroyed several buildings on campus and did severe damage to the one I was officed in; lost my mother; and wrote and presented several poetry readings.

2010-2011:
Two years ago I taught a 4.5/5.5 at an inner city community college, including two totally new preparations; created, launched, and arranged a monthly update for an online literary journal; organized a panel for a national convention; gave three regional, one national, and one local conference presentations and one invited talk; served on the Executive Council for a regional conference; read for AP Language; won a competition for creation of a proposal and white paper for the college’s QEP plan; attended QEP meetings and wrote a complete QEP proposal and white paper; served on the committee for online textbooks; held office hours ten hours a week; created and published a digital poem; and wrote and published two articles, two poems, one review, and two chapters. This was while driving in one-hour each way from the suburbs to downtown and taking my stroke-limited father to lunch at least once a week. (Thank you, HCC-Central, for working on my schedule so I could do that.)

2011-2012:
Last year I taught a 4/4 load, which included having four classes of students to my home and teaching five composition classes (four fyc and one business writing); taught four new preparations, including a course in an area which was a minor interest in undergraduate and PhD, but whose topic had been off my radar for over twenty years; spent two hours a week in a conference learning to teach that preparation; resurrected an honors society and held four events with the newly re-created group; created and updated the honor society blog; contributed to the departmental blog; wrote one article which was published and two chapters which are in press; published three poems; wrote four grants and won two of them; gave four conference presentations and did three original poetry readings, two digitally; served on the Executive Council for one regional conference; created and updated the website for a regional conference, including creating original art for the site and acquiring online payment abilities; was chair and organizer for two regional panels; read for AP Language; created and gave a presentation for graduate students on conference presenting; acted as a graduate student mentor for two in-coming graduate students, which included reviewing papers, suggesting conferences, having them over to my house, and taking them out for lunch; participated actively on the departmental library committee, with full responsibility for rhetoric, composition, and linguistics acquisitions; participated in the composition committee; read for freshman and graduate student assessment evaluations for SACS; took a digital story-telling professional development class; took two photography professional development classes; attended twelve professional development luncheons; beta-tested a new CMS; held office hours seven hours a week, met in conference with all my fyc students twice, and stayed in contact by email and texting with the students from 9 am to 9 pm seven days a week; and studied twelve professional development books.

2012-2013:
This year I am teaching a 4/4 load, including one new preparation this semester of a graduate class in the history and theory of rhetoric and four different preparations next semester and teaching one of the classes with totally online texts; classes next semester include a new book, so a total revamp of a class I have only taught one semester before; creating an iBook for Early British Literature; teaching a class with the brand new iBook; serving on the Executive Council for one regional conference; updating the website for a regional conference, including changing the online payment and registration abilities; creating the program for the regional conference and organizing and creating a digital presentation showcasing student work from our university; advising students!!!!; participating actively on the library committee, the UG research committee, the composition committee, and the business writing committee; presenting for two conferences, both regional and both on technology–the focus of a grant I won…

I am behind in my writing and being accepted to conferences. I received an R&R I have not gotten to and I am supposed to be revising my dissertation and getting it to the publisher by the end of the year. I have no conferences next semester and no abstracts out for writing or presentations.