While each of these case studies
addresses different adjunct career
paths, they have some things in
common. These commonalities
are of particular benefit to those
seeking adjunct teaching
positions. Beyond having the
required level of education or
experience, you should cultivate:
Your Networks: The importance
of a network to introduce you to
open positions and facilitate being
noticed in the hiring process cannot
be underestimated. In faculty hiring,
references—formal and informal—
are very important.
Your Attitude: An institution may
be interested in your abilities as a
professional or as an artist, but they
are hiring a faculty member first
and foremost. Both when seeking a
position and as an adjunct teacher,
you should commit to teaching as a
first obligation, not as a method to
support outside activities such as
your profession or art.
Your Involvement: If given the
opportunity to be involved in institutional activities, do it. Being seen as
part of the institution and not just a
drop-in will help in the long run.
Your Limitations: Understand
that an adjunct’s role is to teach
a specific course. Avoid promising
abilities that you cannot deliver.
Time Management: Regardless
of your level of involvement as an
adjunct, time management will
improve your success. Advance
planning is imperative in the
classroom, the lab and especially
Preparation: Take the time to make
sure that lectures, lessons, projects
and demonstrations function
properly. The concept of “staying
two weeks ahead of the students”
is not practical.
Teaching Versus Knowing:
Teaching is a skill set that puts the
student’s learning needs ahead of
the teaching process. This is far
different from just knowing how to
do something. A successful faculty
member converts their knowledge
and experiences into learning opportunities for the students.
ALTERNATIVE VISIONS: Enfield, a highly respected hand coloring and alternative processes specialist, is currently
working on an updated version of her 2002 book on this subject. Jill Enfield’s Guide to Photographic Alternative Processes
will be published in June by Focal Press.
workshops or as private teacher. Most important to
her approach is being focused on the next steps in
her educational process. She segregates her various
classes by prepackaging materials for each course,
keeping a large rolling travel pack for each offering
and making notes about items she’ll need to add
to each pack from one class to the next. Because
Enfield commutes from home to teach and does
not have an office or controlled storage space at
the school, these packs are essential to the proper
materials reaching the classroom when needed. Being a commuting adjunct, whether across town or
across the county, puts a high value on planning.
Enfield has also learned that being comfortable
in one’s role as an educator is critical. She will
turn down potential classes if she does not feel
prepared or interested in the content. “You need to
know your limits and abilities in order to give the
students their money’s worth,” she says.
In hindsight, Enfield sees adjunct teaching
as having injected itself into her life. She revels
in teaching, just as she does in making her art.
It has become both a way for her to grow as
an artist and to gain the pleasure of helping
others learn about the art form she loves. As a
professional artist with a mastery of her craft,
she “loves to talk to students and see the light-bulbs go on as learning happens.”
(below) a view of Enfield’s darkroom at home.
ENGAGED IN PROCESS: (at left) As a visiting artist
at Weston High School in Massachusetts, Enfield
inspects a Cyanotype fabric print with students
photos © Jill Enfield (headshot) © Joe McNally
AS AN ARTIST/EDUCATOR
Jill Enfield began teaching
one class at Parsons School
of Design more than 20
years ago. As a successful
making a transition to fine
art photography, Enfield had found her commer-
cial work was depleting the energy she needed for
her art. Therefore, replacing her commercial work
with teaching seemed a reasonable option.
In addition to a small paycheck and some benefits, Enfield found teaching at Parsons to be both
pleasurable and beneficial to her art. “Teaching
is a growing experience for the artist,” she says.
The learning environment is rich and encouraging, and it spurs an artist’s creative juices. As new
ideas flourish in the classroom, working with the
students benefits Enfield as much as the class. A
critique can do more than improve the students’
work—during classroom discussions, the artist/
teacher may be gaining applicable insights to his
or her own work and practice.
Over time, Enfield has learned how to function
as an adjunct, whether at Parsons, when offering