By Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 10/27/16.
Every week I am contacted by a former student, friend or colleague interested in becoming an adjunct professor. To help them make a decision I share the following: what we are not looking for, followed by what we are looking for.
Purpose in teaching:
What we are not looking for: Many inquires ask about the opportunity to stand up in front of the class and lecture on their knowledge. This is really one of the last things we want.
What we are looking for: Instead we are looking for learners who want to continually read and research best practices and bring those to our students. It’s not about getting up in front of an group and having a tuition paying audience. Rather it’s about researching and studying a topic to gain insights that others may have missed. Then it is about sharing this with students.
Past successes of the adjunct:
What we are not looking for: Often times potential adjuncts tell me they want to share their story. They feel they have learned a lot through life’s lessons. But the students in the classroom will come from many different environments, ethnic cultures, different polities and varying sizes of churches. Therefore, the potential adjunct who wants to share what they’ve experienced will probably not have broad enough experience to resonate with the majority of the students
What we are looking for: We are looking for someone that’s a student of the topic, is continually researching best practices and is purposefully learning more. In my own work I found being a consultant for churches helps. Each week I’m in a church with a different denominational affiliation, different size and different history: where I must help them adapt growth and health principles for there local context.
Focus of attention:
What we are not looking for: When I tell prospective adjuncts that 90% of our teaching is online with only 10% in front of a live audience, they often gracefully bow out. I may be wrong, but it feels like they are looking for an audience rather than an investigative Academy.
What we are looking for: We are looking for insatiable, lifelong learners who are describing and synthesizing new ideas from all the information they have gathered. These are women and men who want to share that information regardless of the modality. They are even glad to share such knowledge in the anonymity of an online format, where students may never even know what they look like. They are simply happy to share their information, regardless of medium, because they want to see knowledge disseminated.
I’m sure I’ve overgeneralized at times in these short lessons. But I believe they can give a glimpse into what makes a long term and effective teacher.