Online Invasion

Yesterday was our solar eclipse.  I had the fortunate opportunity to see a crescent moon shape with our moon/sun overlap here in Houston.  Digging further in to my short-lived excitement, I looked up the definition of an eclipse and discovered its meaning: a loss of significance, power, or prominence in relation to another person or thing.

Interesting enough while the world continued to watch their NASA videos and shortly after my own solar eclipse experience, I learned an educational eclipse was coming with one of my schools. The lose of significance would be a face-to-face class I taught because of the all mighty and bright powers of online learning.

While I celebrated the prospects of being able to eat dinner with my family in the evening because of this anomaly, my brain focused immediately on finances. My family is barely making ends meet now so what should we do with the prospect of yet another loss in pay?

Unfortunately, this is the reality of an adjunct.  Needed one day and then not needed the next.  I don’t blame the institution to tell you the truth.  It does make more economic sense to move the class online, but I also know the value of teaching Psychology face-to-face to students. While some classes can function quite well with online formatting, an online psychology, for most of the students in this demographic, will not be their best option.

The school has other opportunities for tutoring and such that I am thankful for but that is ultimately not what I want to do with my time.  I like to be in front of students watching their brains turn on as the concepts make a connection to their personal lives.  I enjoy the wonderment and excitement that comes with understanding an assignment and reading the material the student produces.

Maybe that makes me a nerd, but I have embraced it.  I’m not sure when this transition should occur, but I’m excited to see what the future holds now that this element of my professional career is removing itself.  One day at a time.  Let’s see what happens.

Are any of you in limbo at the moment?  If so, share with us what you are waiting for from an institution.  As soon as I know more about my position, I’ll be sure to post as well.

Advertisements

Post Harvey Motivation

All of my schools are back in session.  Thankfully, two of my schools will not require makeup days; however, one institution has stated we will make up days on Friday and Saturday of this weekend and next weekend.  I’ll discuss my issue with making up days on a Saturday in a later post.

Nevertheless, despite all of the schools returning to session, there is a thickness in the air that does not exude excitement.  The students are tired.  They are distracted.  They are 131% not motivated to be in class.  Even my eager beavers who are in class before I am, routinely submitting work early, and actively engaged in discussions are flat.

Hurricane_Harvey_2017It’s no wonder as to why.  The images on the news and in their personal lives are nightmares that continue to play over and over again when the name Harvey is mentioned.  I can see the Classical Conditioning taking place as displaced family members, torn sheetrock, and sleeping on a cot in an open room with others make them wonder what the point of this particular assignment is.

Not only do I see it on their faces, I can feel it in my own soul as well.

I thrive on showing students where to look and encourage them to reflect on their own lives during our discussions and classroom exercises.  We discuss personality, the effects of memory, and analyze the various components of Sigmund Freud’s Psychosexual development.

But not this week.

This week is about establishing some form of normal.  This week is about dismissing class a little early so students can make it home before the city’s curfew.  This week is about mending and trying to help my students know how to help themselves.

Of course, there are assignments due.  Yes, you’ll need to do some reading as well.  My hope is that this information will (if only for a few) give them a chance to take their mind off of their current hotel situation.  Perhaps understanding why your senses are some of the most profound gifts you could ever have will lead them to appreciate areas of their life they had not before.  While I’m certain they will do that now, hopefully, my students can ignite the passion that Harvey tried to distinguish when a year’s worth of rain fell in 2 days.

For now, I will continue to motive my students and show them the positives.  We will talk about the storm and then gravitate to the sociocultural theory and how this storm has impacted those dynamics.  I’m thankful my field seeps into every crevice and hope the study of psychology can be a flicker of light at the end of the tunnel after such an emotionally challenging two weeks.

 

Name Change Challenges

This summer I had the pleasure of marrying my best friend. The ceremony was perfect, the reception awesome, and I’ve never smiled more in my life during the after party celebrations. I could not have asked for more and love looking through photos reliving our special day.

So after my cloud nine experience, I jumped right in to the name change process. Surprisingly, the Social Security office and the DPS office were the easiest of the changes.

hellonametagsI decided to incorporate my name change in phases, slowly implementing these changes with each school until everything was updated.

With school number one the process was quick and easy. I turned in the social security card and the IT department changed my name within two days. No problem. The students are still trying to figure out how to pronounce my new last name, but at least we are moving in the right direction.

After such an easy process with school number one, I foolishly assumed the remaining two institutions would be as easy.

You know what they say about assumptions, right?

School number two was more complex than the United States tax code. First I was told to update my name online. I did. Then I was told to take my social security card to human resources. I did. One week later, I emailed the same HR person that took my SS card asking for a status update. She said “Now that I saw your SS card, you have to go back in to the system and request another online name change.”

Seriously?

So I made the request and my name from a payroll perspective was updated, but then I had to go through a separate process for IT to update my email information. Apparently the two departments do not have the ability to communicate. This is surprising since we all need HR to process our payroll and we all need IT to do our jobs. How can they not communicate with each other? Sigh.

Three weeks later and two trips to the school yielded a successful name update with institution number two.

Now, I’m waiting on institution number three. I gave my SS card to HR and I’ve made an online request. I was told HR would send out a help desk request and IT would update my information with 48 hours of that request. It’s been a week and still no update.

Alas, because this blog is about remaining positive, I’m going to assume it’s the “back to school explosion” that has HR behind. Perhaps they are training new people. Maybe there are issues internally that they are trying to address. Or perhaps there is a student worker that has not been to the office the first week of class who normally does the paperwork and Help Desk requests for the HR department.

Ultimately, I’m going to take the high road and believe the positive in this situation. People have a lot on their plates, particularly during the first week of school. It always seems there are issues with people (my self included) gearing up for the pace of the semester. Let’s just hope fuel is added to the smoldering embers so we can get up and going. I’d like to have my name, my email, and what my students call me on the same page as soon as possible.

Everything is going to be corrected, I’m confident of that. In the mean time, I will remain positive. After all, it doesn’t really matter what my email is. What matters is that I give quality instruction in an engaging manner for my students. The school employs me to teach, not to complain.

Comment below if you have any suggestions or recommendations when it comes to changing your name.  How does your institution handle a name change?

Post Harvey Payment

I know a lot of faculty and adjuncts like to complain about administration. They note the yet another Director of Blah-Blah that was hired at the school for a six-figure salary and mission statement that will no longer exist with the school within 3 years. As an adjunct I’ll admit it’s frustrating to see these administrative positions open and fill, and yet, the positions providing a service to the customers (our students) remain sparse.

moneyNevertheless, I was encouraged by one of my schools this weekend. An email from our corporate office in Florida stated all hourly employees (which is what all instructors are since the new CEO took over) would receive the pay they received on the last pay period. So basically, instead of cutting us short one week of payment thanks to Hurricane Harvey, they are actually going to give us more than what we worked for and then adjust on the following pay period.

I know when I post this, there will be people who still find something regarding this information to complain about. The company could have stuck with their policy about turning in a time sheet or the employee not receiving a paycheck. If they decided to go this route, not only would there have been a riot from employees in Houston, but numerous people in the Houston area would not get a check until the end of the month simply because they cannot get to the school.

While this may seem small to some, this was a big deal for me. The memories and stress from Hurricane Harvey are far from over, but at least we have an opportunity to receive our money and file for unemployment due to a natural disaster before the adjustment that is to come at the end of the month.

Adjuncts have a difficult enough time juggling the workload and paying bills without losing our sanity. Any way the administration team can assist with this juggling act in the midst of the circus is appreciated.

What do you think? How does your administration help or try to show their appreciation during a difficult time?

 

 

Post Harvey Guilt

This week was long. It was one of those weeks where you had no idea what day it was. Time slowed as I checked on friends and family, watched the news for what reservoir was to open next, and verified the water levels in my own neighborhood thanks to Hurricane Harvey.

When I wasn’t checking up on the status of those I cared about, I channeled my nervous energy in the form of a puzzle. Stupid, I know. But when you are not able to get out of your neighborhood and the media announcements are exhausting, the only thing you can do is a puzzle. Anxiety is a beast.

Now the waters are starting to recede. I have helped family and friends remove sheet-rock and carpeting from their homes. Years of saving and working overtime to purchase bookshelves, televisions, and couches are now on the curb awaiting their fate in the sun for a truck to haul it away. Memories are washed away. Some have lost their home and place of work. For these people and their loss, there are no words to describe the magnitude of loss and emptiness.

They tell me I was fortunate. They tell me I was spared. They say I am lucky not to have to deal with insurance claims and displaced living.

Then why do I feel so guilty?

I spoke with a friend of mine who managed to stay dry despite the annual average rainfall that fell in a 36-hour period. She has the same feelings. Even as I sit here now, I feel like I’m not doing enough despite the fact that I sit here feeling the effects of a cold brewing.

Should I empty out the closets and provide more linen? What about buying more bleach and cleaning supplies for those people? Maybe if I had not gotten tired I could have helped with that last remaining section of home for that person.

I know I have done what I can with the time and resources I have, but it does not seem like enough. Celebrities like JJ Watt can reach more people and collect more money than I could have on my own. My $25 does not begin to replace the stability or ease the anxiety of those affected, especially when I know there are Houstonians who still cannot get home 1 week later.

Alas, after I drop my step-daughter off at work, I will go by a friend’s home to see if she still needs help. If she says no, I’ll go to another friend, and another on down the line. Yes, I am a professor, but I am a humanitarian first. If the only thing I am able to give is time, then so be it. Hopefully this will be enough for those “feelings” to die down.

Yes, I was spared, but now is the time to give back more than ever. I certainly cannot return to school on Tuesday telling my students to do so when I never did it my self.

To all of those affected by the storm, from Texas up to Tennessee, know there are people supporting you and lifting you up during this time. The United States is a strong nation. Hopefully we can use this tragedy as a way to put our petty differences aside and return to One Nation.

Infinite Impression

I ran in to a fellow adjunct in the break room today after not seeing her all summer long. We caught up on our lives over the last few months: she bought a house and sent a daughter to college. Meanwhile, I got married and went on an amazing honeymoon.

In the midst of our conversation our dialogue turned to students as it always had. We began to discuss our semester and some of the goals we wanted to accomplish.   During the course of our conversation she said something that genuinely struck a chord with me: Our student’s behavior is a reflection of their beliefs.

Brilliant!

Mirror-2-1024x811.jpgAs a student of psychology myself, I found her summary of student behavior to be on point. If a student pays more attention to their phone than to our lecture, it could be that they think our class is boring. Or perhaps they believe they do not see the point in the material we are covering.

Supplemental to this idea, if a student does not turn in an assignment, the student may believe they are not capable of doing the assignment because they are “too dumb.” If they believe they cannot be successful, then what is the incentive for the student to try?

It’s no different than a person who thinks they cannot lose weight so they opt to never go to the gym. Or the advocates of this or that group who think they can change policies, leading their hearts to picket the local courthouse in an attempt for change.

The thoughts between our student’s ears are so pivotal. If we can learn to engage with our students and understand their thoughts, perhaps we can guide these thoughts and thus modify their behavior. If that is the case, then we as instructors can no longer single-handedly blame our students for their behavior. In actuality, we also need to examine our own involvement for why our students behave the way they do.

Many of you have gone back to school and some are due to start on Monday. I challenge you that the next time you are dealing with a difficult student, hold up a mirror for reflection first. If you have contributed or enabled their behavior, fix that issue first. Then talk to the student and see if there can be a fresh start to the semester to finish the term out strong.

Matthew 7:4 – Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?

What do you think? Place your comments in the section below. We can all learn from each other as we navigate the waters of Adjunct Instruction.

What No One Tells You About Student Potential

In making the rounds of in-services to my various institutions, I’ve heard a phrase mentioned a few times: social and personal capabilities. My deans and department chairs have stated this should be one of the goals in our classrooms for the semester.

But what exactly does this phrase mean?

As an instructor, we should always encourage our students to be their best self, to live up to their full potential, and to function in a respectful and appropriate way in society. We should want our students to make the world a better place while also bettering themselves towards whatever career choices the student decides.

secrets

The problem (in my opinion) is that many of our students do not know how to do this very thing. They have a hard time deciding what they want to do in their career much less know how to act once they enter the working world. Many of my students are under the age of 25 in which their brains have not developed to their full functioning ability. How can we tell someone to act and function to their full potential when their brains do not have the capacity to currently support their full potential?

Nevertheless, I will keep encouraging my students to reach for more. To challenge the status quo. To take the information they learn in psychology and apply it to their everyday, Monday-Friday lives and see how far it takes them.  Many do not know the way and I do not feel it is my responsibility as an instructor to tell them what to see.

It is, however, my responsibility to have the student look in a certain direction and ask them what they see. If I have the student apply the information to their current situation based on their current brain development, I have been successful. While they may not fully understand their own social and personal capabilities while they are in my class, at least they are stretched and challenged in a way that will help them in the future.

I may not be the finish line, but I will happily accept being the stepping-stone to the student’s end goal. If I can contribute to the student’s thinking ability and thought process when they reach fully functioning status, I have done my job.

Thoughts, comments, and suggestions on this topic are welcomed.