How things are shaping up

Ah, the life of a non-tenured teacher.
Before the Christmas break, I was assigned two back-up courses for the winter semester in Continuing Education. ‘Back-up’ means courses that don’t open until the first section is full, and since registration happens until the first day of classes, ‘back-up’ really means you might not know until literally the last minute whether or not you have a course to teach.
Shortly after the break, our department chair called to let me know that one of our more veteran colleagues was taking a leave for the semester for personal reasons* – tada, two courses open up in the regular day section, and everyone moves up a notch. This works out to… THREE back-up sections. So depending on registration, this means I have anywhere from zero to a full load, given that an assignment of three English courses works out to full-time work.
Here’s what hinges on the outcome: since I taught a full load last semester (plus one, for that matter), I need three courses to make a full year, which means a full salary, not to mention solidifying my place on the seniority list.
A partial load this term would be OK, since I can make up the balance teaching a summer course – but that means getting paid hourly for this term, with retroactive pay in the summer once my CI (the magic number that determines my status, based on the number and variety of courses taught and student numbers) hits the full-time mark.
No courses this term would be a little scary, because I’d have to hope for really huge summer classes, or try to teach three in a compressed semester of 6 weeks (as opposed to 15 for fall/winter). No courses would also raise the spectre of collecting employment insurance, which I have learned (the hard way) is complicated if I end up with any substitution work, not to mention retroactive pay in the summer.
So you can imagine my relief when two extra courses opened up in the day section, thus moving us all up a notch again, and I got the good news: three evening courses.
Yes, after all that anxiety and math, I am teaching a full load, I’ll be getting my full salary, and I won’t have to teach this summer!
Of course, now I have to, like, work and stuff, but hey, c’est la vie d’une English prof.
*which doesn’t make me feel like an ambulance chaser at all

One Reply to “How things are shaping up”

  1. My god, do I sympathize. (and I’m pleased that it worked out so well for you!). At Wisconsin, we have a system for allocating TAs which goes something like: if you taught a course last semester, you are bumped down to the bottom of the list for this semester, regardless of experience, good evaluations, or whathaveyou. This means that you won’t know until all the other graduate students have accepted or declined teaching jobs whether or not you have a job next semester. Needless to say this drives people (my better half, especially) crazy.

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