Today I attended my institution’s first-ever new lecturer orientation. It was kinda awesome for a number of reasons.
First, talk about a good idea that is long overdue. More than two thirds of all instruction on our campus is delivered by lecturers. New tenure-track folks get two full days of orientation, as well as ongoing workshops and support activities throughout their first year. But apparently up until now it was assumed that NTT folks didn’t particularly need any information to acquaint them with campus or one another or any available resources. We need these things, one would assume, like we need a living wage or job security or respect, which is to say, not at all. Lecturers, unlike our tenure-line brethren, are capable of figuring everything out without a lot of hand-holding. That’s why we get paid the big bu…oh. Right. Nevermind…
Anyway, the point I was building up to is that previously getting new lecturers on board was the purview of the hiring department. And, as a former very dis-oriented lecturer, I can tell you that some departments seriously could not care less about this responsibility. When I was hired on in DEPARTMENT X, I got one email about my office assignment and another about where to pick up a key and not one thing more. I had no contract, no information about how to get an ID or activate my email account or access my class roster, no guidelines about university requirements for syllabi or how to order textbooks or how to set up my course in the campus LMS, no information about the technology available in the classrooms or how to use it, no introduction to campus resources for faculty or students. I met exactly one person: the department secretary. I had been teaching for three weeks before I met the woman I thought was the department chair; a week after that I learned that she hadn’t been chair since the following spring., which is probably why she never responded to any of my emails. One month in a meet & greet was planned to introduce the faculty and students to the 2 new TTs and 2 new lecturers. It was scheduled during the time that my class met. My class that met once a week. At night. I learned about the lecturer evaluation procedure when I was informed that my review portfolio, which I had never heard of, was two days late. My contract for the semester showed up in my department mailbox during finals week. So yeah, I’d say some formal mechanism for getting lecturers up and running is pretty fucking vitally necessary.
So, even though I’m not technically new and DEPARTMENT Y, to their credit, takes welcoming new NTT folks much more seriously than that other department, I went to orientation. I met other lecturers! I learned a lot that I didn’t know, even after having taught here previously and working on campus full time since January and learning things secondhand by nature of being a faculty spouse! They let us mingle with the privileged ones at the faculty reception! I got handouts! Useful ones! And invitations to future workshops!
I actually left feeling like a faculty member with a day job instead of…whatever it is that I usually think I am [insert self-deprecating comment here; bonus points for incorporating the words "failed" and "academic"]
Yeah, so it was a pretty good day.