Open Discussion Forum

  • 1.  Professional development question: working in the community college system

    Posted 05-08-2017 05:34 PM
    Hello, I have been in ECE for 28 years as a teacher, a mentor/trainer and am currently working as a director. Can we talk about professional development opportunities? I feel in the director role I receive very little PD and guidance! While I love my job and don't intend to leave currently, I do feel the great burden of stress involved in the  day- to-day operation of a large child care center. One of my professional hopes for the future is to teach at the college level.  I will complete my MA in human development at the end of the summer, I do not intend to get a Ph.D. as I have been in school most of my adult life and am strained by current student loan debt as it is. I see community college instructor openings posted and that appeals to me. However, can we talk about what it is like to be an adjunct as many posts are adjunct only. Can anyone speak to the life of an adjunct? How stable of an income are you able to bring in, is each semester a worry, do you make connections with the students? I would like to look into online teaching but wonder how many positions are available and how many different schools you need to work for to bring in reliable  income.  Thanks for letting me know your thoughts! 

    Donna Toole
    Asheville NC

  • 2.  RE: Professional development question: working in the community college system

    Posted 05-09-2017 07:53 AM

    I was an adjunct for many years before starting my tenure track position at a 4-year institution, and now I hire adjuncts at my university.  At least at my university being an adjunct is never a guarantee. The full time faculty has first choice of any class, and many semesters the full time faculty will want to teach the specialty classes (which may or may not run due to enrollment). Once we know what classes will run and what classes are cancelled we know what classes we need covered by adjuncts - so the hiring officially does not happen until a week or two before the semester.  While an adjunct may know a semester ahead of time (no one in my department wants the 8am in-person class - so that adjunct knows it is hers forever!), that is not always the case. 

    It is an uncertain life. I have friends from my doctoral program who are full time adjuncts - teaching at three different colleges and overall they have twice the number of classes that I do, but make much less money than I do. A full time job a community college may be a nice option since it will be stable, but I expect it will be a significant pay cut for you. 

    I hope that a little bit helpful


    Dr. Pam Brillante
    Assistant Professor of Special Education
    William Paterson University of New Jersey
    Flemington NJ

  • 3.  RE: Professional development question: working in the community college system

    Posted 05-11-2017 02:35 PM
    I agree with almost everything said, adjunct work really is the low point of teaching decisions and pay from the colleges and has much more work and more travel between colleges if you work at more than one.  Our "freeway flyers" put a lot of mileage on their cars and have tight schedules to meet.  That said, I have been an adjunct at various times in my life and the work is very rewarding and the students pretty amazing.  And, yes, if you believe that building relationships with those you teach it is very possible---in the classroom it is you and your students so find ways that fit your personal philosophy of building connections--it can be done inspite of multiple restrictions and directives from the college.  If it is your passion then do it!

    Cary Larson-McKay
    Morro Bay CA

  • 4.  RE: Professional development question: working in the community college system

    Posted 05-09-2017 08:08 AM
    I am adjunct faculty at a community college as well as the coordinator of the on campus child care/preschool. As an adjunct I usually teach 1 class a semester, fall & spring. There are quite a few of us so there are not guarantees. The program director rotates us. I seldom teach in the summer. It is a lot of work but I enjoy getting to know the students and helping them be successful.

    Diane Hendrick
    Latrobe PA

  • 5.  RE: Professional development question: working in the community college system

    Posted 05-09-2017 10:25 AM
    Hi Donna,

    I am currently working adjunct at two colleges and have a very full load, much higher than any of my full time colleagues and make significantly less with no benefits. There are no guarantees for classes each semester because full time faculty get first dibs. I make great connections with students, although much more so when I teach that in person 8am Monday/Wednesday class no full time faculty wants. Connections are still made when I teach online but the dynamic is different and it actually requires quite a bit more work to do it well. Teaching is very fulfilling for me and I do it for the joy and not the pay. If you have another source of income and have tendencies toward workaholism this may be the way to go. Otherwise, you might want to teach one class a semester and see how it goes but don't quit your day job :-)


    Maureen Powers
    Knowledge MPowers
    Vallejo CA

  • 6.  RE: Professional development question: working in the community college system

    Posted 05-10-2017 09:01 AM
    Donna:  As an adjunct instructor who also works full time in the early childhood field at the State level I can tell you that the extra money is nice but doesn't not match the time commitment.   I am teaching early childhood classes at the community college level because it keeps my "spark" for the profession alive!  I find myself working with the students as if they were my future employees.  I try to connect with them on level that will help them understand what to expect in the real world of early childhood and the career possibilities.  About half of my current students are Elementary Education majors who are obtaining their ZS endorsement to teach preschool.  These students seem to really want to be in a K-5 school district setting.  However, I have made it my personal mission to get at least a handful of the students to fall in love with early childhood!  We need more early childhood professionals who are in the field because they truly want to make a difference with not just the children but with the families also.  I stress the importance of working with the family along with working with the children, regardless of the age or grade level.  The students really connect with stories from the field so I share as much as I can from my own experiences. 

    I teach in the evening one night per week and spend about 5-6 hours throughout the week grading assignments and prepping for the next week's lesson.  Since I'm an adjunct, I'm offered mostly 100 and 200 level classes.  These classes tend to come with a lot of weekly homework in terms of chapter reviews and discussion board questions which require time to grade.  So it can get overwhelming if I don't stay on top of it.

    To conclude, if you have a passion for teaching and a passion for the early childhood profession, I would recommend that you pick up a class at a community college and see how it works for you.  I am so glad that I did because working with the young adults who are interested in making the world a better place for children and families has been very fulfilling and rewarding for me personally!

    Rita Trinklein
    Birch Run MI

  • 7.  RE: Professional development question: working in the community college system

    Posted 05-23-2017 08:06 PM
    Donna, Like others I was an adjunct for many years before becoming the fulltime faculty and ECE program coordinator at my college.  I concur with most of what others say, with one exception.  Web classes can mean less commuting than before.  The best way to be an adjunct is to teach 1-3 classes a year to supplement your regular income.  Patty Meritt, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

    Patricia Meritt
    Fairbanks AK