Teach. Evaluate. Adjust. Repeat.

The first part of May ended my 8th year as an adjunct instructor for the journalism school in town. And while some years seem more successful than others, every year offers new insights into the minds of twenty-somethings, who are less than 15 weeks away from being unleashed onto the advertising industry. This is their capstone project and a “C” in this class is necessary for graduation. Although, I guarantee the attitude of “Cs get degrees” will not be getting anyone a decent job in the industry anytime soon.

Technically, I’m a lab instructor for Strategic Campaigns…a class that provides the last safety net they will have before sinking or swimming on their own. And I take my job warping young minds quite seriously. They bring in us “industry professionals” as adjuncts when the number of labs outnumber the available faculty.

Obviously the beauty of this is that we are NOT part of the tenured faculty and therefore, not required to sit in on exciting staff meeting or put up with, endure endless, participate in the academic bureaucracy of higher education.

So, this year I had 17 deer in headlight, naive, aspiring strat comm students ready to take on real-life clients. Split into student agency teams, every year these students get to learn, first-hand, about such wonderful things as clients from hell, team dysfunction and the stress of deadlines versus party nights. All good things to know in this industry.

And inevitably, every year there’s a sleeper team (or two) that surprise me at the client presentation. All semester long they appear to be amazingly dysfunctional. You’ve heard the expression herding cats? Or, nailing jello to a tree? Yeah, that’s what it sometimes feels like. And somewhere in the class  there’s always, always, always the stereotypical frat boy, the untethered free spirit, the drama queen and the slacker. But in the end they all seem to pull it together and shine like the sun. Call it blind luck….or pure panic. I’m not sure which one it is most of the time.

So after the grades are recorded and diplomas in hand…and no risk of retaliation…the administration releases the students’ evaluations of the course….and their instructor.

Most of the time I’m okay with the evals, understanding not everyone appreciates my teaching style. This year was a pretty good year for evaluations. And I’ll share some of the comments made by a group of stressed out, sleep-deprived students suffering from severe senior-itis.

…nice person and great teacher; but she is a tough grader.
Yes, I’m a grammar Nazi and proud of it. For some reason I think a college senior should know how to string words together in a coherent sentence.

…make later deadlines for assignments.
I would but then you’d be graduating in August.

…be a little less unimpressed
I had to laugh at this one. Evidently I was less than subtle about my disappointment with the first draft of their team’s strategic plan.

…too much per week for us to do.
I’m not sure this one is going to make it in the crazy-busy world of advertising.

…professor was very strict to us
Oddly, this was put under one of the three best things about the course.

…try to be less intimidating.
If they think I’m intimidating, they may be in for a rude awakening.

…she was awesome.
I like this one.

When it’s all said and done, and after the client leaves with an impressive campaign book representing 15 weeks of blood sweat and…yes…tears, they all look like this:

Muse jump for joy

Adaptive-thumbs up

6Think swings 1

I do need to comment on this one. This team’s client has playground equipment in various places around the building. I’m talking huge slides and swing set areas like you see here. How awesome is that!

So now that the Teaching is finished, it’s time to Evaluate. Adjust. Repeat.

5 thoughts on “Teach. Evaluate. Adjust. Repeat.

  1. Lisa, thank you so much for sharing this post because I don’t think I was aware of what you did as far as your job.

    How AWESOME! You’re a TEACHER!!!

    “…nice person and great teacher; but she is a tough grader.

    Yes, I’m a grammar Nazi and proud of it. For some reason I think a col­lege senior should know how to string words together in a coherent sentence.”

    I agree with you! Because in today’s world of technology (meaning texting), the younger generation is slowly losing their ability to actually write FULL sentences without using abbreviations and Internet lingo.

    “…try to be less intim­i­dating.

    If they think I’m intim­i­dating, they may be in for a rude awakening.”

    How true! What until they get out into the REAL world.

    Great post, my friend! Loved your photos!

    Have a super weekend!


    • Thanks Ron! I’m only an adjunct during spring semester, when capstone courses are at their peak. The rest of the time I’m tied to a desk as a marketing director. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and hope you have a fantastic weekend.


  2. I actually just finished reading my course evaluations yesterday.
    It was a good semester, or at least my students thought so.
    Well, most of them anyway.
    The ones that I had to fail were less than thrilled with me. 😦
    You can please some of the people some of the time, but for those who only make it to 10 out of 43 classes…

    You have a fantastic weekend!! xo.


    • I’ve never had to fail a student, but 10 out of 43 classes? Wow! Anyway, congrats on a good semester overall. Hope your summer is fabulous!


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