Post Academic

Don’t let ’em see you mad in the classroom (Part 1 of a series)

"Berlin Wall Hulk" by Gorgalore (Creative Commons license)

To follow up on what Caroline wrote last week about how there’s no crying in the classroom, I’m writing about a different kind of not-so-constructive display of emotion that gets stirred up in me when I’m teaching: anger.  Caroline has already picked up on what is the root cause of why I’m teaching-while-angry, and that’s the lack of respect I feel I get as a teacher.  Whether it’s feeling underappreciated as a peon adjunct and TA by admin or it’s more sociological, as the study that women and young faculty get more guff from students (geez, that’s a shocker!) suggests, there are moments where I can feel my inner Hulk about to burst through.

As an adjunct and grad student teacher without a whole lot of job security and a minority (which can come into play, too) who looks young, I definitely have some anger issues over a the sense I get that I lack authority in the classroom.  Really, all these circumstances build on one another: The teachers most at-risk–grad student instructors, adjuncts, untenured faculty–often lack age, experience, and rank, so they also appear the easiest to pick on.  And it is probably harder on women and minorities who might also appear young to project a sense of authority, just as it is for part-time teachers, just starting out in the profession and/or clinging on to it, with little institutional backing.  And don’t tell me that students can’t smell blood in the water when a teacher is uncertain about her/his standing in the classroom, even if they don’t understand the finer points of academic rank.  So how do I overcompensate for being young looking and an adjunct–I get mad!

OK, it’s time to talk my inner Hulk down a bit before I type this whole post out in BOLD CAPS, so read a more even-keeled assessment of what makes me mad about teaching below the fold…