Happy Thoughts for the End of Term


Lauri Heikkinen

At this time of year, with mountains of assignments to mark and job applications to face, it’s natural to feel snarly. Soon the union will be surveying us about our working conditions and hopes for the new contract, and at that point we can channel our frustrations productively.

Still, it’s difficult to deal with the work ahead of us this month and beyond, if we keep awareness of the drawbacks of our situation at the top of our minds, so at this point I offer a few happy thoughts about what is good about our jobs here at Procom in an effort to make this time of year a little easier…

Great colleagues

It’s rare to find a workplace where your colleagues are a pleasure to know. We’re a fun, mutually supportive, committed, innovative group, and it’s easy to take for granted that we go to work without feeling stressed about one another.

Unpretentious, Creative, Energetic Students

The above traits distinguish Ryerson students from other university students I’ve taught. On average, I don’t think our cohort sizes us up for worthiness or tries cynically to impress us in order to garner a better mark. Most are quite adept team members who try sincerely to produce quality work.

Flexible Work Conditions

Many people who work in conventional offices would kill for the flexibility we have: two study breaks and staggered schedules. Not only do we have the freedom to do most of our work when we choose, we can also weave freelance or other employment into our schedule without penalty.


Despite the strictures of multi-section courses, we still can put our own stamp on our classrooms and approach teaching as we see fit. Many of our courses also compel us to draw on our creative impulses and so realize some of the aptitudes and interests that drew us to higher education.

Work Environment

Of course it’s not ideal to try to do our jobs in shared offices or one big room with dividers. However, the rooms aren’t old and depressing or housed in a building with questionable air quality (think VIC). We also have new computers and software and access to a Cloud system.

Rewards of Working at Ryerson University

We are no longer working at “Rye High.” Ryerson is a diverse and striving place which hasn’t stagnated because of complacency. It’s still possible to feel a part of the forward motion of the institution even as a sessional. We contribute to curricula, conference presentations and, in Procom’s case, the vision of the School.

Additional benefits are access to free courses and tuition for family members, new facilities, opportunities for collaboration with faculty in other programs and quick access to the subway.

Pay and Benefits

Granted, we work hard for what we earn. Nevertheless, because we are unionized, we can hope to gradually move toward a comfortable salary and some job security. The benefits package is also better than for many other organizations.

Effective Union

Our executive has managed to secure a measure of job security for 60 members and is working hard to increase that number. This isn’t a union that goes through the motions. I’ve seen senior members handle the delicate relationship with management with skill, and we’d be in a very different situation if we didn’t have CUPE bargaining for our rights

Final Thoughts

As a superstitious person and habitual contrarian, I have to end with “knock on wood.” Still, I think we can take comfort in the consolations of our jobs in April, 2017.




Massive Open Online Courses


Catherine Jenkins has a post on her blog about her experience with MOOCs. Her testimonial may finally spur me to bite the bullet and enroll in courses I’ve been intending to take. Not only do I want to broaden my knowledge of subjects I didn’t have time to cover as an undergraduate, but I’m curious to see what “star” lecturers are like.

On a side note, if you hadn’t realized already, Catherine is a woman of many talents, as her blog attests.

Evaluations of Female Professors

Public Domain

Catherine Jenkins alerted me to a recent article about biases female sessional instructors encounter in teaching evaluations.  Because Ryerson allows instructors to keep the written comments to themselves, we don’t have to reveal the sometimes embarrassing remarks to the department. In my advancing age I haven’t received personal comments about my appearance for awhile, though I often get complaints like “I don’t get her, [sic] she seems nice, but then she is really picky about your writing.”  My schoolmarm thought is that I wouldn’t have been “nice” if I hadn’t been picky about their writing.