These days it seems like I am working at at least three jobs (but only really getting paid for one).
1. Teaching: This is what I would consider my day to day job. I have to prepare lectures and activities for my classes, grade, and meet with students regarding the course.
2. Research: Implicit with working at an institution of higher learning, one has to do research and prove the value of said research through scholarly channels; that is, one has to publish or at the very least present the findings.
3. My third job, however, I think comes more out of working at a public institution rather than a private one. Recently I feel like I am also a social worker. I seem to be encountering students with all sorts of problems and issues. Depression is the most common and prevailing issue. Some of them recognize it, while others try to hide it. As someone who suffers from this illness, I can usually recognize it whether hidden or not. Other issues some of my students face: domestic abuse, unwanted pregancies, dyslexia, and deaths of loved ones.
I have mixed feelings about this third job I have been thrust into. These students need help, but often do not know where to get it or are unable to get it. It seems that other faculty seem unsympathetic to their situation (but I am just acertaining that from the way they react to my willingness to listen and help). I let them know that I am not trained to help them with their specific issues, but I can lend an ear and try to help them find help.
Trying to help students with these issues is not in my job description, but I realize that often they are overwhelmed by these circumstances and they are not going to be successful with their education as a result of it. And making sure they are successful IS part of my job description. So what to do? The stream of students coming into my office has grown because as the semester comes to an end, the stress grows, the deadlines loom, and the students crack. The meetings and converstations are draining and time consuming, yet I feel I need to do what I can for them.
Why am I facing this new dimension of the education profession now? It must have something to do with the fact that I am dealing with a broader socio-economic spectrum of students. There are more students that do not have the resources to find and get the assistance that they need. In addition they might even have family situations where there is a lack of understanding of the issues that they face. Moreover, the school itself has less resources allocated to address the issues these students face.
For now I will continue to do what I can. Listen, give advice when asked for, and help find more competent forms of help when needed.
And there are some small rewards: the smile on a student's face who has gotten back on track and is doing well in class when a few weeks before she had been distraught and in tears in my office.
That said, I need a break soon. Just a few more weeks.