How do you get out of the black hole of casual/sessional teaching?  You need to make enough money to survive – so you take on many classes. That effectively becomes a full-time job, so when do you have time to read / write / publish so you can be competitive with all the people going for the entry-level academic jobs? You’re up against people who have had post-docs and in some cases people who have already had fixed-term academic jobs.

I was involved with 2 different classes. One was run as distance only and had a different semester timetable to the on-campus class. It meant that there was almost always assessment to complete in any given week. I had 140 assessment items in my marking queue and there was no way that I could complete all of them in the 2 week turn-around. I approached the coordinator and explained I couldn’t do all of that marking in the short time. I hoped that they might offer to complete some of the marking but instead they replied: “Woah, how many? Haha! Well, it’s better you than me!”

In one class which I was involved in for 19 semesters as a guest lecturer and tutor, they slowly phased out our guest lectures until the class coordinator presented those lectures (they did not have any first-hand knowledge of the content).  The coordinator retired early and the new person who took over (who had no topic experience) hired fresh sessional staff who had no topic experience. The convenor did not contact the previous sessional tutors – we prompted them to find out what was happening – they did not reply until 2 weeks before the semester began. That’s what the 19 semesters “teaching experience” and loyalty to the department gets you: Nothing!


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