This is my favorite time of the semester. Despite the fact that it’s January and I teach at a law school, my class is filled with a certain something, an energy that could almost be mistaken for optimism. Maybe it’s the fact that, for the first time since taking a gig as an adjunct professor, I’m not teaching a bar course. Instead, I’m teaching a skills course, which is essentially the difference between being resented by your students or actually seeming relevant to them. Frankly, I don’t care, because soon enough they’ll turn on me.
It happens every semester, no matter the course. The congenial atmosphere in my class evolves into a coolness that, about a month before final exams, turns cold. Even the gunners stop actively participating in discussions. Attendance lags and I face passive-aggressive questions about whether or not the library has copies of my exams on reserve, or if I’ll hold a review session since we’re so far behind in the reading than what the syllabus says we’ll cover. Or if I’ll hold additional office hours since I’m not on campus that much.
I suspect the change will be especially severe this semester once students realize my professional contacts are of limited use in an economy that still stinks and in which law schools continue to rack up good press with claims of cooking the books on employment statistics.
I bet that’s what will lead to the suspicion, the undermining of my authority that will show up in anonymous course reviews as comments on my “availability.” I’m only adjunct, after all. I can already hear it.
How can she possibly teach us litigation skills when she’s not even practicing law anymore?!! I mean, really, if she was any good wouldn’t she be a REAL PROFESSOR. Or at least still a real litigator? What the hell is wrong with this place? This is why we can’t get jobs!
So I’m going to take this week and bask in all of its untarnished glory, in smiles and friendly conversation with my students. Soon enough, it will be February, and class will go cold.