Not Engaged Yet

Need Some Job Advice

bethsmilesbethsmiles Denver, CO member
10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
edited April 2014 in Not Engaged Yet
Because I'm graduating this semester, my teaching assistant position is ending. This morning I got an e-mail from my boss (she sent it out to all the TAs) saying that she was going to leave a USB in our office for us to put our powerpoints, lesson plans, worksheets, speech outlines - basically anything we created to teach in our classes so that they can give it to the new TAs for the fall. I was also asked to include all the exams I've made since I'm in charge of creating the exams.

I don't know how I feel about this. I don't have a problem leaving the exams, for the most part I just pulled the questions from a test bank that comes with the textbook we used. However, I don't really like that I'm expected to leave everything else. I guess I see all the powerpoints, lesson plans, worksheets, speech outlines I've created as my intellectual property and I don't see why I should just hand them over. I spent countless hours over breaks and outside of time I was being paid to create all of these materials. Additionally, my boss said she was going to assign us each a new TA to mentor over the summer. My contract ends when the semester ends...in two weeks. Why exactly should I be expected to mentor everyone when I'm not getting paid anymore?

Basically what this feels like to me is the department doesn't want to spend the time to train the new TAs so they want those of us who are leaving to do it for free. Quite frankly I haven't had a great experience at this university. I wouldn't recommend the program to anyone and I can't wait to get the hell out of here. But I'm worried that if I refuse to leave my teaching materials then I'll end up burning some bridges that I still need. But I'm also frustrated that they feel they can demand these things of me without any sort of payment and I feel like they are taking advantage of me. So I'm just not sure what I should do at this point.

Edited to add paragraphs!


Re: Need Some Job Advice

  • KeptInStitchesKeptInStitches the Northern Plains member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    Were you given anything like lesson plans, exams, etc. when you started?
  • Beth, that's a tough situation to be in.

    I think you're right.  You don't want to burn any bridges.  I also agree that it's more than a little bit presumptuous to expect you to turn in lesson plans/presentations, especially since it seems no one gave those to you at the start of this position.

    It might be beneficial to bite the bullet, take the high road, do what is asked, and be able to get some great recommendations.  The last thing you want to do is establish yourself as being someone who is argumentative and difficult to work with.

    I'm sorry you're going through this though.  They sound like a bunch of prizes.
    KeptInStitches500daysCLoGreenEyes
  • bethsmilesbethsmiles Denver, CO member
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    Nope.We weren't given anything when we started besides the textbook and the rubrics for the speeches.


  • 500days500days MA member
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    edited April 2014
    Same question as @keptinstitches. In the last 3 years as a teacher I have handed over tons of stuff, but I also started with resources and continue to get resources here and there from other teachers. That seems to be the nature of teaching K-12. But at the university level, I'm not sure if that's standard or accepted practice. Maybe @Blue & White knows.


  • lmcooper86lmcooper86 Toronto member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary First Answer

    Was there anything in your contact regarding intellectual property? If there wasn't then you might not be obligated to leave everything for them. While it might be best to not burn bridges, you may also not have to give them absolutely everything you created if your contract doesn't require it.

     

    As for the mentoring...that seems like they're blatantly taking advantage of you, and I wouldn't be happy about it either. Can you ask them for compensation? Or depending on how much you just want to be done with them could you say that you've already accepted a new job and you don't have time to mentor someone new or it would be a conflict of interest or something?

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  • bethsmilesbethsmiles Denver, CO member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    @loves2shop4shoes - Unfortunately, I think you're right. I'm just annoyed that it is coming across as a demand more than a request. And the mentoring idea is especially annoying to me. I'm friends with 3 of the 4 TAs who will be coming in and I would be happy to answer any questions they wanted to ask me but mentoring over the summer isn't a part of my job so I don't really think it's appropriate for them to assign me someone to mentor.

    @500days & @KeptInStiches - I definitely wouldn't want to just leave with any resources I had been given at the start but besides the basics for the course - textbook, syllabus, and speech rubrics we really weren't given any materials. They also didn't ask this of any of the previous TAs who have left.

    I think the department is freaking out because 4 out of the 5 TAs are graduating. Usually they just rely on the 2 or 3 old TAs to help out the 2 or 3 new TAs. But now there will be only 1 TA returning and I think they are realizing they have no idea how to train the new people and they can't leave it all to one person.


  • bethsmilesbethsmiles Denver, CO member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    @Imcooper86 - I don't think there was anything in my contract about intellectual property. I'm more worried about needing my boss and other professors in the department for references so I don't really want to piss anyone off.


  • Meh...I take a different opinion here.  It sucks but all the work I did at various law firms before I left (even the stuff from scratch, labor intensive, all mine) was always considered their property.  I had to ask to take my work with me (even presentations) when I left.  I'm not an IP lawyer but I think when you create something during the course of your employment for your job, they might have the right to ask you to leave it.  Again, I know little about IP law.

    The mentoring is a different scenario altogether.  I doubt that is something you even remotely need to do but the whole burning bridges thing sucks to deal with after the fact.

  • KeptInStitchesKeptInStitches the Northern Plains member
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    Given the additional information, I'd leave the materials they're asking for, but if you could come up with some reason to not train in the next TA, I might be less than inclined to do that.
  • bethsmilesbethsmiles Denver, CO member
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    I think I'm going to leave the materials, not agree to mentor but say I'll answer people's questions if they have them and I have time.

    I just got a new e-mail asking to record me giving my lecture on the history of communication - this I'm going to say no to. I don't want them using a recording of me teaching after I've left.


  • Typically, intellectual property that you create while employed that's relevant to your work actually belongs to your employer, not to you (whether it's in a contract or not). It's not unreasonable of them to ask for your lesson plans, etc. Also, it's not unusual for an employer to ask you to train your successor. It's actually really good for continuity from their point of view, and it helps preserve some institutional knowledge. Of course, you need to be paid for that work.
  • bethsmilesbethsmiles Denver, CO member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    emmyg65 said:
    Typically, intellectual property that you create while employed that's relevant to your work actually belongs to your employer, not to you (whether it's in a contract or not). It's not unreasonable of them to ask for your lesson plans, etc. Also, it's not unusual for an employer to ask you to train your successor. It's actually really good for continuity from their point of view, and it helps preserve some institutional knowledge. Of course, you need to be paid for that work.
    But they are not planning on paying, so it is an unusual request.


  • I was going to answer the IP part, but @emmyg65 got to it before me. If it's created during the course of your employment, for your employment it belongs to your employer. Not saying whether I agree or not with this, because I'm kind of undecided.

    If I had a good relationship with my employer, I don't have any issue with leaving my stuff. If I want to take some for my own use, I usually ask if I can photocopy it. However, in your situation I would totally feel like I was being used and taken advantage of, and would not be happy about leaving my stuff, even though I would end up doing so.

    I think you came up with a good solution, but it doesn't mean you have to be super happy about it.
  • bethsmilesbethsmiles Denver, CO member
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    @thetimewillcome - you pretty much hit the nail on the head. I'm not happy about it but it's just the way things are.


  • I would say if you want to end things on the best terms for your future, don't burn those bridges and leave them most of your stuff. Yes, it may be some intellectual property, but frankly, it's going to be used for teaching and not for any real financial or academic gains by others.
  • I know for research I was required to leave everything in the lab forever. For teaching, I've never been asked to leave anything. Which is good because I'm notoriously bad at keeping those things around (I do, but I edit them each semester based on the class and we change books so much in science that they're constantly different). I also rewrite my tests every semester because my students are very good at "sharing" previous tests.

    I think for "mentoring" I wouldn't mind if I was just available by email but I wouldn't be setting up prep dates or anything. I would be booking it out of town. We had mentors when I went to grad school but it was for research and teaching and was volunteer. No one was required to do such.

    Sooo I would probably suck it up and leave em although I might scrub em clean of anything awesome lol. But as you said, I wouldn't recommend the program to anyone. Especially anyone that wants to teach someday (it makes me so mad when schools don't properly train their TAs. I was an undergrad TA in chemistry and went through something like 60 hrs of training before I had a single student.
    I guess, to tell you the truth, I've never had much of a desire to grow facial hair. I think I've managed to play quarterback just fine without a mustache. - Peyton
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