The recent tragic and devastating shootings in Colorado and Connecticut have not faded from our collective memories and call us all to pause and consider our own safety within our places of daily routine: work, school, and leisure.
Of particular importance to this author is the environment in which many college instructors find themselves - as part time adjunct instructors. Now, certainly, this does not make them any more vulnerable to gun violence than anyone else, but it does reflect a growing need to understand the context in which adjuncts operate.
The national dialogue (or dispute...) includes myriad perspectives from an outright repeal of the Second Amendment, to arming teachers and leaders in the school. Whatever your ilk, the conversation touches nerves across the political, social, and emotional spectrums of our nation.
In a particularly poignant essay, Nate Kreuter describes essentially the dichotomy that he lives. An avid gun owner and sportsman, yet opposed to arming teachers or students, his essay resonated with my experience as an adjunct instructor.
As I reflected on his ideas, it occurred to me that I found myself in situations that could have gone poorly had it not been for some basic knowledge. Here are five tips to understanding your surroundings as an adjunct:
1) Familiarize yourself completely with your campus. Too often, adjuncts come and go, rarely staying for longer than their appointed course time. Visit all parts of your campus regularly. Understand where things are located: security, campus offices, common areas.
2) Read your adjunct handbook. Yes, read it. Understand policies for adjuncts, and even throw in a quick read of the student handbook. Know your rights and your responsibilities.
3) Be aware of your classroom environment. Make note of the room, its contents and its exits. Observe your students and be aware of their comportment during class. Be aware of colleagues, as well.
4) In the even of an emergency, try not to panic. That is easier said than done, but you have made yourself aware of your environment already and that can help mitigate anxiety.
5) Call for help - 911 and campus security.
While these tips might seem rather obvious, a few simple steps can mean a lot to your safety and to the safety of your students and colleagues.