January 2011 Issue
December 21, 2010

10 tips for new adjuncts

Source: NYSUT United

You haven't been in a college classroom in 20 years, much less in front of one. But now you're a first-time adjunct instructor looking at 100 students in the lecture hall. The first day can be daunting; the thought of an entire semester is intimidating. Here are 10 tips for new adjuncts that cover many of the things you need to know, and a few you probably haven't even considered yet.

1. Join your NYSUT local on campus. Your union keeps you informed of rights, benefits and issues affecting your job. If you're not sure what local you would belong to, or you don't know how to contact it, call NYSUT (www.nysut.org) at 800-342-9810.

2. Read your job contract, your union's contract with administration and any college policies or procedures given to you. This is the best way to know your rights as an instructor and your students' rights in the classroom.

3. Do attend any social functions or meetings hosted by your union or department to welcome new members. Be sure to introduce yourself to the local president, too — If not in person then at least by e-mail.

4. Visit your classroom before classes start and make sure you can access the room, computers and supplies such as copy paper and markers.

5. Know how to contact police, security and IT support at all times.

6. Sign up for your campus e-mail system and check it daily. Many campus computer networks block e-mail from other systems, so campus e-mail may be the only way to communicate with students or catch announcements and news.

7. Introduce yourself to your department's support staff, even if you teach at night. These colleagues can help you with a range of issues.

8. Adjuncts often have full access to campus services, ranging from the ability to create a faculty Web page to taking courses for free or a reduced cost. Find out what you're entitled to and learn how you can access these perks.

9. You may be eligible for grants, reimbursements, conferences or other professional development opportunities. Don't assume that you don't qualify because you teach part time. It costs nothing to ask. If your campus has a notification system for class cancellations, weather alerts or emergencies, sign up for it.

10. Know when to get help with a student. Your job is to teach. Ask your department, an adviser or the dean's office for help with all but routine problems.