Category Archives: The Two-Year Track


The Risk of Revealing the Secret of My Mental State

America doesn’t really take mental disorders seriously. Look at the case of Creigh Deeds and his son. In November, the Virginia state senator’s son stabbed him multiple times before shooting himself to death. This came one day after the son, Gus, was mentally evaluated at a hospital, but wasn’t held overnight because, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “no psychiatric bed could be located across a wide area of western Virginia.” So they sent him home.

This is an extreme case, and it has …


‘Get Your Associate Degree’

Lately my college, like many other two-year schools, has been making an effort to encourage students to stay for two years and earn an associate degree before transferring. That can be a hard sell, since we’re primarily a “portal” institution, and many of our students make no bones about the fact that they want to transfer as soon as possible—in many cases, after one year. Even those who stay two years often can’t be bothered to go to the extra “trouble” of applying for graduation, despite the …


When It Isn’t Yours Anymore

I had an idea for a trip for honors students. It was just to go up the road about three hours to the National Aquarium, in Baltimore. Our honors program is in its pilot year, and it’s mostly about cultural and academic “experiences” while we work on developing our actual academic component.

The trip will still happen, but it’s going to be different from how I envisioned it. I wanted it to be a way to establish “community,” something that I think is missing from our little school, though it’s ge…


Valuing My Time

“Exciting opportunity! I mapped out some dates for writing workshops this upcoming spring semester. Please let me know if you would like to volunteer as a presenter.” I don’t blame the writing-center coordinator who sent me this optimistic message. He’s just doing his job, trying to provide learning opportunities for the students who come his way. But reading his full email left me feeling as  if a Nigerian prince were offering me a chance to make big money.

Service is an important part of acad…


AP Literature vs. College English

I had an interesting opportunity this semester to compare students who placed out of their first college English course based on Advanced Placement scores with those who didn’t. I’d like to share that experience, along with some of my conclusions, and see what you think.

Like most colleges, mine offers two levels of first-year composition: ENGL 1101, in which students focus on the basics of college and professional writing—the writing process, sentence structure, paragraph development, organi…


I Shouldn’t Have to Say It

In a developmental English class, a student said something very rude to me. I run a pretty laid-back classroom, so there are some occasions when students say things and I’m not sure if they’re rude. But I know this was meant to be rude. In her defense, I was picking on her a little. I kept asking her and her friend to answer the questions because they were the only ones chatting about the weekend and not participating in our activity. The student responded by saying, only slightly under her bre…


Changing My Mind About CVs

In my most recent “Two-Year Track” column, “How the Job Search Differs at Community Colleges,” I stated that candidates need to tailor their cover letter for each job but can probably use the same CV. I think I’d like to modify that statement.

I based my original advice on the fact that, as a serial community-college search-committee member, I’ve reviewed thousands of CVs. Although in some ways they’re as unique as fingerprints, in other ways they’re all very similar. Honestly, I’ve seen just a…


Applying While Adjunct

I enjoyed reading George David Clark’s recent piece about teaching statements. My whole focus, as a professor at a community college, is on what I do in the classroom. I still have the statement I wrote as part of my student-teaching application, oh so long ago. I won’t quote it here, as it waxes a bit philosophical and makes me cringe when I recall my naïveté.

There’s another part of the application process that I want to focus on here: letters of recommendation. As an adjunct and as someone wh…


Seriously, You Don’t Have to Be a Jerk

Never mind the headline of a recent Chronicle advice column—“Be Hard to Get Along With,” by Scott Hippensteel—which left me wondering what kind of person would be intentionally hard to get along with. (I think we all know the answer to that.)

It was the tease that caught my attention: “Growing problems of classroom decorum mean faculty members have to get tough or sacrifice learning for all students.” Really? What exactly are these “growing problems of classroom decorum”? I’ve been teaching coll…


Pre-Tenure Fear

It has come to my attention that my writing for this blog has upset some of my colleagues. While it bothers me a little that I found this out thirdhand, what really irks me is the responses I get when I share this newfound information with others. People keep telling me to be careful until I get tenure.

If you’ve read even just a couple of my blog posts or other written pieces, you know that I try to write my opinion honestly (and it is just my opinion). This has been both good and bad for me. …