Students! Do You Have to Write a Teaching Evaluation for a Contract Instructor?

A good one makes all the difference

photo by Toa Heftiba for Unsplash

Are you too busy? Really?

Writing a teaching and course evaluation for a contract teacher is important. Maybe not for you. But for the teacher it can be the difference between having a job and not having a job in the coming year. There may also be such pieces as “merit” funds on the line, or promotion, or even some bit of job security… such as it is, in contract work.

So many students do not realize that many of their teachers are “contract” employees

In Canada, more than half — yes, more than HALF — university instructors, especially those teaching the large lecture classes, are “contracted.” These instructors have a paycheck that bears no resemblance to what the students are hoping to earn when they emerge from the institution. So many students do not realize that from one year to the next many contract folks hang in the balance of, “Will I have a job next year?”

Many contract instructors have a full PhD… and debt

The reason they are contract teaching is to pull together enough “lines on their CV”s to get a “real” job — that is, tenure-track. The sad part is that if they don’t move ahead quickly into a TT position, they’ll get caught in the cycle of contract work — that is, no time for writing or research (especially if they have the audacity to have a child!), and multiple part-time positions, further eroding any likelihood of getting a “real” job.

How do you know the status of your instructor?

Ask. Just ask. Trust me: they will be blown away that you care.

If you are short on time

If you have to choose between writing an evaluation of a tenured professor or a contract person, choose the contract person. It will make a bigger difference in their life. It will make a difference. Unless the TT person is a complete ass who should no longer be working, spend your own time where it will create change.

A note on Patriarchy

As much as we all keep pointing to “Patriarchy” as issue-ridden and the scourge of existence… let’s consider Hierarchy. The hierarchy that is a huge part of post-secondary learning is demeaning. We can say that those who have worked to get to the top — those tenured-few, full professors — have arrived via years of study and challenge, and are deserving of all achievements. But the path is no less for most contract folks, age not withstanding.


I’m leaving. I’ve had enough.

My latest book is a caregiving memoir, Dance Me to the End: Ten Months and Ten Days With ALS. I am now on Substack with The Unschool for Writers: a DIY MFA.

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