I'm contracted to teach a a six-week summer course, and I'm pretty excited, constantly thinking about tweaking the syllabus and matching up readings and films. A few weeks ago, I received my official contract, which includes the pay scale for the course. A flat fee IF AND ONLY IF the enrollment is 9 students or above (up to 15). Otherwise, a stipend of $500/student.
The worst part? The difference in pay between the 8th and 9th student is $895. Almost a fifth of the total.
The work for this course is fun -- I get to learn about a genre I'm not really familiar with, at least in a scholarly sense -- but there's no way that one fewer student = $895 less work (or even $500).
The person who taught this course last year claimed that he didn't advertise the course at all, and ended up with an enrollment of exactly 9 students. With that in mind, I know I'll be doing at least a bit of publicity -- those brightly-colored posters that go up around the halls somewhere toward the end of April, that I never believe actually work.