Most of you who have read my blog before know that I used to teach high school and middle school. After a particularly rough year in a middle school I decided to jump ship and finish my MA in English and go into the less secure world of being an adjunct professor.
From the time I started as an adjunct at the major community college in my area til the time I was hired full time at that same community college I taught for 3 semesters and 1 summer. Actually I started interviewing in that 3rd semester. This is far below the average from what I can tell- especially for English teachers. In fact, I was told there were over 230 people who applied for the position I got. Some with more education and experience than I had.
So, how did I do it? I'm not 100 percent sure. But, I'll tell you what I think helped me.
1. I treated every day as if it were an interview. I tried to dress professionally, be extra prepared etc. I also stayed on campus as much as possible despite working at several different locations. I think this gave me more visibility.
2. I got to know the people in my department. I asked for help. I collaborated. I shared resources.
3. I attended as much professional development as possible. Some were all day sessions on Saturdays. But, by doing so I started seeing deans. I showed that I wanted to keep growing/improving/learning.
4. I made sure the deans knew who I was. I said hello to them. I found ways to tell them about my successes in the classroom.
5. I tried to find a way to draw positive attention to the college. So I created a service learning project with a local free clinic for one of my classes. I invited administration to the presentations at the end of the semester. This also gave me something to discuss in my interview.
The above 5 steps I think helped me get the interview. Now, what did I do in the interview?
1. I emphasized my teaching experience. The state funding model has changed. We now get money based on the number of students who succeed. They need people who can teach.
2. I gave specific examples from both my time as an adjunct and prior to showcase my style of teaching and my teaching philosophy.
3. I discussed my experience with teaching all types of students. I know how to teach students with learning disabilities etc.
4. I told them that I want to keep learning and growing. I gave examples of ways that I had already gone out of my way to learn more about teaching college v teaching high school.
5. I explained how much I liked the culture of their campus. An advantage to being an adjunct where you want to be hired is that you get to try it out. I could give specific examples of what I liked about their campus and my future colleagues.
This isn't a fool proof plan. But, I think, if you want to make the jump from adjunct to full time you have to be very deliberate with how you go about it. Just being a good teacher isn't enough if no one knows you. Having the credentials isn't enough because plenty of other people do too. What makes you different? What can you offer that others can't? Show them, before they even hire you full time, what type of employee you're going to be.
Thanks for reading!