FIRST PERSON | Linda Sneed
We all know that our work takes place not just during scheduled class meetings, in classrooms on college campuses. We work in many times and places: early in the morning, through mealtimes, and late at night; in our cars, on public transportation, on our phones and personal computers, at home, in coffee shops, in public libraries.
Some of us have access to on-campus shared office space for part-time faculty, a place with tables or desks and sometimes even computers where we can plan for classes, grade, collaborate with colleagues, and meet with students.
We don’t all have this. And even if we did: it’s not enough.
How many of us can count on blocks of uninterrupted minutes in which to concentrate on our work, to accomplish all that is necessary outside of class meetings — unshared minutes? Unshared hours?
How many of us have what Virginia Woolf famously asserted was necessary for focused creativity and concentration, “a room of one’s own,” in which to plan our classes, thoughtfully evaluate and respond to our students’ work, reflect on our teaching, revise our strategies, and emerge refreshed, ready to engage respectfully and enthusiastically with our students and colleagues?
Time and space in which to work in solitude are not an elitist, bourgeois demand; they are necessary conditions of our jobs. Multitasking in busy environments may have become our norm, but it is not conducive to producing our best work or maintaining our mental health.
It’s time for the institutions in which we work not just to pay us fairly but to invest in the creation of space in which we can do all that our jobs require, and do it well.
Linda Sneed teaches English at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento and is assigning editor of the Part-Timer.