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.