On the Job with Sarah Laux, Ph.D.
On the Job with Adjunct Professors
Sarah Laux, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Kimmel Student Involvement Center
Southern Illinois University–Edwardsville
Syllabus preparation, in-class time, assisting students, grading, meeting institutional requirements. Can you offer any tricks of the trade for balancing professional expectations and teaching requirements?
I wouldn’t necessarily call them tricks, but more of an acceptance to prepare for class at home during would-be “down time” after the hours of the administrative position have “ended.” Extreme organization and planning are a must for me for balancing my administrative role with my teaching role. But even with multiple calendars, color coding, and mental readiness, some days and weeks will still feel overwhelming.
Do you believe teaching and working in your profession can each facilitate success in the other, and if so, why?
Absolutely! I feel that I’m a better administrator because I teach, and I’m better at teaching because of my administrator role. Both positions allow for discussions and interactions with students on different levels and also provide a more holistic perspective for the work we do in higher education. Often, I’ve noticed I’ll have a particularly positive teaching experience when my administrative role has been particularly trying, and vice versa.
Being an adjunct does provide additional income, but what really inspires you to take on this additional work role outside your professional job?
I have such an interest in and appreciation of learning that I enjoy any opportunity to watch students learn and make connections. It’s exciting to see students affirm or modify their thoughts through learned knowledge, while also having a greater understanding of the world and the impact they have and can have. Sharing this additional component of students’ educational journey through teaching adds an additional intrinsic value to my work in higher education.
If you could choose and develop your own class, what would it be and why would you create it?
I’m currently teaching a course called “Learning, Working, Living” and we explore the nature of education and its relation to work and life. It is a discussion-led course that asks students to define the purpose of their education. We explore the shared responsibility of learning in education and in society through history, theories, and models of learning and discuss holistic approaches to education, work, and life.