Income stream #2: Teaching online, 4


I’ve been thinking about how often it makes sense to update income stream #2 since I am now making a relatively stable amount of money. I get bimonthly paychecks of the same amount: $360.06 (though for some unknown reason there was a 1-cent difference in September). There is no particular reason that I am updating after three pay periods; it’s just when I found the time this week.

One thing I have learned so far is that with online teaching, there will always be some uncertainty from semester-to-semester. A month or more ago I got an email from the online learning coordinator saying that they were putting me in a hidden section for next semester; my section would only open if two other online sections of my course filled up. At first I was sweating it because it would be a little painful to go back to zero income after a semester of consistent paychecks — not because our budget would change, but because seeing our account balance go up rather than down staves off ulcers and periodic freak-outs. Then two weeks later I got a mass email from the overall head of online learning (I’m sure he has a fancier title than that) explaining that some sudden policy changes at the university were likely to impact student enrollment for the next semester, but they were still evaluating to what extent. The gist of that email to all online instructors was this: sorry, but don’t count on getting work next semester. Although I teach in one of the higher demand departments, I was feeling like I probably would not get a class since I was low on the totem pole and my section was still “hidden.”

On the plus side, I started to think of all the things I could do next semester if I had more free time. Finish two in-process manuscripts stemming from my thesis and submit them for publication. Finish a quilt that has been languishing for years. Continue decluttering and “getting things done.” Oh, all the (unpaid) things I could do!!

Registration finally opened a couple weeks ago and after just a few days, I received my electronic contract. Perhaps this means that I should feel more confident in the future that my course is in high enough demand that I will have some degree of job security, but in speaking with my colleagues, it does seem that each semester there is some period of waiting it out to see what courses will carry and how much work you will get. So for now, I’m going to take it one semester at a time. Still, it’s awfully nice to know the minimum amount we can count on for next semester.


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