Shaping the minds of tomorrow!: Setting goals

I have to make a portfolio. A big, massive portfolio to show whoever needs to see it that I am a worthy teacher and know what I’m talking about. This task is a little daunting to me. Mostly because I’m a little unsure of my worth as a teacher. I mean, I know my students like me, and I think I’m pretty good at it, but I feel like I need so much more than that. I already did the first part, which was to write my teaching philosophy, and now I’m on to the second bit–creating a list of goals I’d like to achieve.

I’ve kind of already done this, with my 30 Before 30, but I suppose I should come up with a few more teacher-specific goals. So, if you don’t mind, I’m just going to use this space here to think out loud for a minute.

Trying to figure out what you want to do with your life is hard. Really hard. I have changed career paths and life goals so many times I can’t hardly remember them all. The main problem I’ve always had is that I’ve never really loved and believed in any of the things I have done. I do love teaching, but it’s a constant struggle of reconciling that love with my tendency to tell everyone, fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me. Though because I’m so damn stubborn, I’m starting to think there could be a place for that in education, if done right. But part of me still longs for the day when I give myself the permission to fail on an extremely large scale and I write something. Really write something. I know to be a writer you need to write, and I blog, but I don’t really write anymore and it’s really depressing. So I’ve wanted to be a writer since I first learned my ABCs, but I’m too concerned with just being shit at it. And photography came easier so I did that. But I don’t even do that anymore! I am just failing as an artist, basically, so maybe I should just give that up. I write that and as I write it I know I never will, so at least there’s that.

Teaching feels like the most competitive field I’ve ever worked in. Maybe it’s because I’m a contract faculty and every four months I have to worry about whether or not I still have a job, but I continually feel the pressure to learn more and read more and push myself further and try to make myself stand out. Mind you, now that everyone at my college has seen me naked, maybe that will help! Ha! I’ve always been reluctant to throw myself in to a job in this way because I felt it meant I was giving up on my art. And it still feels that way, but maybe I can come to terms with the fact that I won’t ever be a working artist, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make art.

So where does that leave me with teaching? I know I want to get my masters, but ah, another dilemma. Do I want to get my masters in education, or literature? In a perfect world, I would do both. Because my life consists of both. But that’s an unrealistic goal I think, especially since both Matt and I are going to go back to school. I’m not sure it matters which one I get either, in terms of career advancement, I think I just need to have that piece of paper that says I did it, I have a masters. I’m even leaning toward believing that a masters in literature may serve me better in the long run because it may allow me to teach in a field more to my liking. (Not knocking on the school of business, but it’s not my first choice, you understand.)

I also want to be a really good teacher. That probably goes without saying, but I want my students to LOVE my class. I want them to enjoy coming every week and I want them to feel like they’re learning something, even if all we’re doing is grammar and punctuation. I don’t want any student to feel I’m not addressing their concerns, or that I’m not sympathetic to their circumstances. I want my students to want to give me their best work. I want to do whatever it takes to get to this dream-like level of perfect teacherness! I think a lot of it comes with experience, and as I’ve only been teaching for three years, I know I still have a lot (mostly everything) to learn.

[Sidenote: You know what would be a great thing in colleges? A mentor program. I know that because of all the competition between contract faculty and the nearly-non-existence of full-time positions that it would be a difficult program to implement, at least at my college, but I owe so much to the few teachers who took the time out of their busy schedules to help me, a 26 year old who had never taught before in her life. But then again, there is basically no communication between colleagues at my school, and I think it is due to the immense competition for full-time positions. But that's a whole other can of worms.]

Oh! That is a good goal–get hired somewhere full-time. With benefits. Oh, that sounds so beautiful. Full-time with benefits. Oh, yeah. That’s a huge goal.

Okay, let’s recap what I’ve got so far.

  • Get my masters.
  • Inspire students.
  • Get a full-time position.

I think I could also add:

  • Get a job in my preferred field.

I’d also like to change education in some way. But I believe I’m a ways off from that yet.

Can I just say that sometimes working within a field that has such traditional standards and high expectations kind of makes me feel like I’ve let some former version of myself down. I’m sitting in my house on a Saturday night writing about my education goals. Dude. DUDE.

8 thoughts on “Shaping the minds of tomorrow!: Setting goals

  1. I always feel too shy to comment but fuck it. Seriously Katie, I feel the same way with the life goals (always changing) and everything you’ve written about. I fell into teaching art (5+yrs) and it certainly wasn’t my first choice as a job but… it’s something I can tolerate and enjoy most of the time. When I take a break, I feel rusty and odd and begin to realize it’s benefits, I know I’ve gotten better at doing art and interacting with others. Also, it’s a wonderful feeling to have a connection with your students, you get really fond. Being a fellow artist myself (draw/paint/wannabefashiondesigner), I feel like hopefully some day I’ll find the magic combination of making a living with my art some how.. and maybe still teach on the side too. I also dream of benefits and full time hours too. Sigh. Please write more like this, you may think it’s thought vomit but there’s a lot of truth in it and rationality. I believe you can make a difference or something awesome in whatever path you decide :)

  2. I found it easier to write teaching goals then my teaching philosophy.
    You are lucky that you are ready to go back to school and get your masters. I am just trying to finish my degree and get out and work for a bit.
    And tell Matt that I think he is awesome too for going back to school!

  3. Ha! Here’s the thing about trying to impress your former self, you didn’t know how full of shit you where! That former self with grand plans and the mojo to make it happen didn’t know that no one was just going to give you the right to change the world, and no one was just going to listen to you because you talked sense. Just not how the world likes to roll, so that fuck you attitude is sort of just a reflection of the universes’ opinion on whatever machinations you have cooking up in that glorified hat holder on your shoulders. The former you hadn’t yet been trodden upon, lied to, and cried themselves to sleep over the cruelty of the lie they found out. Age gives that to you, but by the time you’ve figured out what would have been useful to know when you where young you lack the energy to choke the things you want out of that ruthless snake known as life.

    You’re far from the fist person to come to this crushing realization, but hey you’ve got more to show for it than a very large chunk of the whiners on the internet at large. How many people have awesome drawings being inspired by the art that they have created? How many people make people want to fly across the country to come take pictures with them? The answer should be apparent, why are you crying about how much you’ve accomplished?

  4. I didn’t know “Former” you, but I think you’d like you pretty well.

    “I’d also like to change education in some way. But I believe I’m a ways off from that yet.”

    Maybe. But maybe not as far as you think. I went to a high school which was started by people who’d been in their 30′s at the time of starting it. That school changed the lives of hundreds of people, one of whom now fronts, Alice In Chains.

    I think you can change the face of education, in your 30′s

  5. Katie! I’ve been fairly absent from tumblr and only just caught wind of all of this new news this morning, while having brunch with Benjamin (tremblebot, who also teaches). I’m glad he pointed me over here! I’m sending big powerful good vibes in your direction, though I have no doubt you can accomplish all goals unaided by outside forces (but they can’t possibly hurt).

  6. I think honestly that if you want to inspire your students and be able to connect to your students, you should go for a masters in literature. If there is anything that I have ever learned from reading, it is that you can never understand the human experience in all its parts – but reading helps you. Reading literature, understanding it and dissecting it has helped me understand other people almost more than anything else (besides an expansive list of psychology courses). So I think you should go for the masters in literature. Also because if you want to change education, blazing your own path is probably much easier without being told “this is how you teach.”

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