Department chairs have tough jobs. Scheduling a hundred classes every semester. Student complaints. Budgets. Recruitment. Promotion. Tenure reviews. Hiring new faculty. Not killing people. You get the idea.
How do I know all this? I help run a department. Yeah, I’m more than just a pretty face on campus. I also know that department chairs make almost twice as much as their faculty at some places. And they teach half as many courses. Not a bad trade off, I’d say.
You want to. So do we all. Sometimes, I try. I’ve sent some really bitchy emails to editors that I later regretted. Did they deserve it? Maybe. But that’s no excuse. Don’t ever burn bridges if you can help it. If you’re a starving writer, you just can’t afford much dignity. Especially these days. Anyway, let me tell you some of my biggest fights with editors.
Kellyanne Conway can teach us something about promotion. Yeah, it’s nuts. Watching her try to plug Ivanka’s awful clothes last week made my skin crawl. It wasn’t just unethical. It was so far off the mark, and pathetic, that the show hosts were cringing. They tried to stop her. They warned her. Yet, she persisted.
Funny how many writers and artists have tried the same move. A few years ago, I watched a friend of mine on the local news. He was talking about his first novel. Great for him. It was a nice chat, but then he did something stupid as hell. He tried to guilt the co-hosts into buying his book on air. They asked how his book was doing, and he said, “Well I’m hoping to sell you two and the camera man one each right after the show.” Automatic facepalm. I had to take a shower on his behalf. And I had just taken one. That’s how bad it went over.
A few weeks later, a bunch of friends and I were getting drunk at a bar. A book festival was in town. Instant excuse to behave badly. Authors came and went. They told funny stories. They flirted. They gave advice. Midway through our happy hour, someone we didn’t like showed up. She talked about her writing for several minutes, killed the conversation, and then passed around bookmarks. Everyone just nodded politely. When she left, we threw them away.
You’re not trying hard enough. You make stupid decisions. You take too many risks. That’s the voice in my head sometimes. Okay, a lot.
Life would be easy if I had moderate expectations of myself. I worked for years to become a professor, and now I’m an associate department chair. My own parents did everything they could to dissuade me from majoring in English. My friends and relatives mocked me for going into a PhD program. Now, I make just as much money as my dad did at my age. The problem? That salary doesn’t quite go far enough when you have student loans. I’m trying to solve this problem.
People envy me. And yet here I am, pissed off that I’m only getting 200-400 hits on my blog every day, with occasional spikes of 500. I just paid $300 in taxes. It’s the first time in my life I’ve never received a refund. I’m in a different tax bracket now. It seems unfair. I have some money saved up. It’s hardly enough to make a down payment on a house. Barely enough to raise a child. I’m not even sure I want kids. My spouse does. So I’m sorta stuck here.
My high school math teacher had a complete meltdown during my sophomore year. She hid under her desk the entire period, clutching a protractor and hissing “Go away!” That seemed too bizarre back then. Now that I’m a professor, I completely understand. Just the other day, I almost threw a dry erase marker at a student because he wouldn’t stop talking with a friend during our discussion. A couple years ago, I did lay down the hammer on my students when they started challenging me on reading quizzes. One of my students whined, “You’re not being fair.” I told her, “Then you can go talk to the chair. But I’ll tell you now. He won’t do anything. He likes me. In fact, I had dinner with him and his wife last weekend. So, good luck.”
Are you a college professor? Maybe an adjunct, or a TA? If so, I apologize. I’m afflicted with a case of academia, too. Let’s help each other. If the job weren’t hard enough, we suffer from rating anxiety. Not just semester evaluations, no. RateMyProfessor gives students a platform to say whatever they want about us to a wide public audience. Students are so judgmental sometimes. You make one small mistake in November, like showing up hungover in a cocktail dress with puke on it, and that’s all they can remember. Forget all those hours you spent grading their awful papers, pumping up their egos, telling them shit like, “You’re on the right track. But maybe some sources would help?”
On the other hand, a lot of professors genuinely suck. I’ve lived some true horror stories. One of my professors accused me of plagiarism before he’d even read my paper. He made me write another one, then he emailed me to change his mind. “I’m sorry,” he wrote. “Your title looked familiar at first. But when I read past the first paragraph, I realized it was clearly your work.” Another professor used an entire 2-hour class period to show us funny YouTube videos that had nothing to do with the course.
What was he doing? Trying to pump up his RateMyProfessors score probably. You see, I’m fine with that site. But they’re worth making fun of. After all, they don’t really foster an atmosphere of respect for education. Do they? They’re trying to gain traffic and sell ads. The more salacious the comments, the better. A few years ago, they even added a platform for professors to “strike back.” They could upload video responses to their students. Fun. I imagine that would go over well during my tenure review, a video of me mocking my students.
1. The club is not going up on a Tuesday…or a Friday for that matter. Weekday nights (yes, including Friday) are not nights for going out. We will be asleep by 8pm, so Netflix and Chipotle are a better bet than anything that requires pants. 2. We will have the best stories to share with…
via 21 Things You Should Know Before Dating A Teacher — Thought Catalog