The Waiting Room

This could take a while...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Not Again

Posted by Seeking Solace |

I got an email today from the Dean. He wants to meet with my to discuss my "excessive cancellation of classes". He stated that while he and the other chairs that I work for think that I am doing a great job and value my work, there is concern. So much so that the VPAA thinks that I should be fired immediately.

I responded by asking if this meeting was just a formality, meaning that even if the Dean and the others want to keep me, the VPAA has the final say. The Dean said that no pink slip would be given for the fall, that I was safe, but my future is in jeopardy.

Everyone knows that I have a chronic illness that does have some impact on my working, especially in the cold months. That being said, I have made every effort to not cancel unless I absolutely have to. But, there are just days where I just can't walk, lift anything or basically function. I try to keep it to a minimum, but it's not like I can pop a Advil and suck it up.

Granted, I probably should not have taught on a five day a week schedule last semester. It was very hard on me health-wise. I did not have adequate time for rest. And, the super cold winter did not help matters either. So, I made amends by teaching only two days for the fall semester. That will allow adequate time for me to take care of myself.

I am frustrated because while I understand the concern, there are requirements for credit hours etc, the tone of this just seems less than sympathetic. What do they except me to do? Get a note from my doctor?

Also, I don't want to get all lawyer, but there is a little thing called the Americans with Disabilities Act. I don't want to play that card. But if push comes to shove, I will.

If it was a matter of my being a crappy teacher, OK. But, I received my evals in the mail. My lowest score was 4.6 on a 5.0 scale.

I am hoping for a reasonable resolution, but even if that is the case, I fear that I will be watching my back.

I hate this. I hate that I have this illness that so impacts my life. And I hate that some people just don't understand it.


Prisca said...

The whole situation sucks. I'm so sorry you're having to deal with folks who don't understand or even attempt to get the proper information TO understand your situation. Do you suppose there have been complaints from students about your absences? That seems unlikely! Why would anyone else really care? Keep us posted.

Arbitrista said...

It's unacceptable for them to treat you this way. I'd be pissed.

BrightStar said...

I think you're doing the right thing in trying to understand where they're coming from while looking out for your own health concerns. You need to take care of yourself, above all. I think your move toward a teaching schedule that is fewer days per week sounds like a great choice. It sounds like the most frustrating part is the VPAA's attitude toward this -- not treating you as a person to be understood and supported, but assuming that the way to approach this is to fire you! That's not a supportive orientation for them to take -- quite the opposite! How frustrating!

Anonymous said...

play the card. play it play it.

Anonymous said...

Good luck with the VPAA.

Brigindo said...

Could you teach a hybrid course (part in class/part online)? We're doing more of that in at my institution and a friend of mine at an institution with huge space issues is doing that to reduce the need for classrooms.

k8 said...

How frustrating! They do need to be ADA-compliant. Hmmm. As aggravating as this must be, it was good of the dean to talk to you first - some places won't do that with adjuncts.

I suspect some students did complain, especially if you have non-traditional students who pay their own tuition. They tend to be very concerned if they don't feel like they are getting what they paid for. Plus, if they've wrangled around for child-care and then find out they don't need it...well, it's just one more thing. This might not be the case, but I used to have a lot of non-traditional students and I would hear a lot of grumbling about other instructors who canceled class frequently (for whatever reason). The other thing is that some students disgruntled about grades/performance in the courses could have written something in their evals that set this off.

Is there any way to add an online component to the courses that would allow you to sometimes teach while not physically present on campus? Or is that even to much for you to do with your situation? I can see telling students that "x" times during the semester you might need to cancel class so here is what to do in case that happens. But, you probably already have a contingency plan for cases like these, so I'll lay off the suggestions.

And yes, bring forth your lawyerly powers if needed!

Seeking Solace said...

Thanks everyone.

Unfortunately, my college does have an on-line component...yet. I am also looking at options at other places too.

I would not be surprised if it was a student who was pissed. But, I have told my students about my medical condition and the possibility for cancelled classes. Maybe some just don't the VPAA.

There's not much I can do but wait until the meeting.

Psych Post Doc said...

I hope your meeting goes well. I'm so sorry you have to deal with this, both the disease which disrups our life and a VPAA who just doesn't get it.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Ugh. I'm sorry this is a problem. I'm sure that you do everything to make up whatever classes you have to miss - do you have stuff you can use to demonstrate this to the VPAA? (And I'm with Anastasia on the ADA card - if you have to play it, play it! Though it's easy for me to say that.) Those evals will probably be a big bonus, too. Good luck!

comebacknikki said...


Addy N. said...

God damn that pisses me off! I would TOTALLY get all lawyer and play that card if needed, because it isn't fair and it sounds like it isn't legal for them to discriminate against you like this.

RussianViolets said...

Oh, SS, please play the card. Those bastards just. don't. get. it. Go lawyer-medieval on their silly asses, and please report what happens.

Alice said...

I started reading your blog recently. Sorry to hear that you have a chronic illness and the job troubles.

RageyOne said...

I say so what you gotta do - play the card.

I'm sorry this is happening and I do hope it all goes (went) well.

Geeka said...

oh, I hope this goes well for you.

I think that you should play the card, I also think that you should mention that you gave student forewarning about the situtation.

I actually had a organic chem teacher with multiple chemical sensitivity. Taking the class with her was ... interesting. Didn't get to do a lot of lab fun stuff, but learned a whole hell of a lot about what they put in everyday things that can hurt you. Maybe you can suggest to add a 'for days off' component?