When I was assigned a summer class, I was psyched. For adjunct instructors, summer is a time when we scramble around, trying to find temporary jobs for grown-ups. Gone are the days when we could scrape by during the summers, waiting tables or working at a retail store. We need more. We’ve likely got student loan debt we’re working with. And during this summer hustle of trying to make some money and assure our parents that yes, this is what adjuncts do, we don’t need to switch careers now, we also try to write, get our own research done, so that one day we can publish and we won’t always be adjuncts.
It’s hard! So imagine my happiness when my boss asked me if I could teach a freshman composition class, four days a week, for five weeks, during the lunch period, 11:30-1:50. I was elated, but then I remembered the last time I was confined to a classroom during the lunch period. It was a Brit Lit Survey class in college, and being a sophomore, I would either skip class, suffer until 1:15, or bring a sandwich to class, chomping on the food as we discussed Beowulf. My hunger was an all-too-familiar feeling. Something had to be done.
And that something is a something I’ve wanted to do for awhile: teach a food-focused composition course. I did research, found a sample syllabus from an adjunct instructor at Wesleyan, and chatted with her a bit over email, trading ideas, asking questions, thanking her profusely for being so willing to share assignment sheets with me.
I planned my syllabus: five papers, utilizing the usual rhetorical modes we teach in almost all composition classes. A grammar component. A public speaking component (students were required to do three separate in-class presentations). A final exam. I scanned food essays, borrowed from Oxford American, Cornbread Nation, and Gourmet, among other sources. I made a detailed syllabus, switched up my homework structure, and provided a full schedule for the course, something I’ve never tried before. I was ready. Continue reading »