Students! Do You Have to Write a Teaching Evaluation for a Contract Instructor?
It’s that time of year again. Along with final papers and exams and overdue library books, there are email notifications to fill in teaching and course evaluations…blah,blah, blah.
Delete. Too busy.
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.
There are now so many people who hold a PhD, and in truth there are simply not enough TT positions. Positions are filled with contract people, people who need the work, who want to at least have the “foot in the door” — even as the door is a revolving one, and if not careful, that foot might be lost.
It’s a vicious cycle, fueled by the business of higher learning. Education has become a massive business now that we’ve convinced grocery store workers and retail folks that, yes, they do need that ______ degree.
How do you know the status of your instructor?
Ask. Just ask. Trust me: they will be blown away that you care.
Then write them one killer evaluation, and check those boxes.
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.
Hierarchy leads to a lack of collegiality, and to all the maladies of professional jealousy. If it grows without check, it is ugly. Let’s think about this for a moment, and ponder the Venn diagram; if we rid ourselves of hierarchy, it goes, dragging patriarchy with it.**
Disclosure: I have just completed my fourteenth year as a contract instructor, and this week I have informed my classes to please save their time — do not bother to fill in my teaching/course evaluations. Instead, ask and discover who among your other instructors are adjuncts, sessionals, lecturers… and write useful evaluations for them. Help those striving and exhausted individuals continue to work, get promoted, get that minuscule bit of extra pay…
I’m leaving. I’ve had enough.
**call me “dreamer”