Friday, May 6, 2011

Relief Is in Sight!!!

The end of my teaching time is only about two weeks away! If only I can survive that long!

If you don't remember, I've been teaching at a local community college since mid-January: microbiology, zoology and a lab for basic biology. (The first two each have lectures and labs). Teaching, especially putting together lectures for zoology, has been my life this year. As art was the only thing I did before, zoology is all I've been doing in 2011. Unfortunately, the textbook publisher provided very little instructional support, and I've had to put it together as fast as I could, doubtlessly not the best quality.

One of the bureaucratic obstacles I and other P/T instructors have to deal with is: decisions about who is teaching what and when are made at the last minute. That's fine if the lesson plan is already put together, but when I'm asked to teach a subject that's totally new to me and with very little time to put it together, it ends up making me look bad.

Why? Because the students get to evaluate their instructors every couple of years. But if some of the comments are bad, students continue to evaluate the instructor every time the course is taught, until the reports come back entirely positive.

I can see that this is a setup for failure. And I've come to realize I may have to say "No" to teaching requests in order to stay out of those situations, as well as to save myself from the overwhelming task of trying to stay ahead of my students.

All of this to say: I'm beginning to miss doing art again.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm grateful to have a job when so many others don't. The hourly pay rate is better than any other job I've ever had. We still don't have medical insurance -- my wife always had that with her employers, but she lost her job last November and hasn't been able to find anything since then.

And frankly, I keep getting reports about how bad the art shows have been this year. If the economy really is getting better, it's still a long LONG ways from SoCal. In addition, I've been so busy with teaching, I feel I never had the chance to get over being burned out from art. I still need a break. Badly.

Soon enough. When the college is out in late May, I plan on taking two weeks for doing...nothing! And evaluating what I need to do and where I need to go. Teaching has been bringing in the $$$, but I feel like I can't depend on it for more than a semester at a time. All my eggs are in one basket, and it ain't a very stable one.

As usual, I have to do lots of thinking and planning to do. I haven't got it all figured out yet. But first, I have to finish out the term. Take a do-nothing vacation. Then paint and, maybe, re-work course materials for next fall or spring semesters, in case they need/want me to teach again.

Or I'll try to develop a Plan B. Would that be art? I wonder...

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