A Return to the Classroom

Today marked my first day back teaching in 9 months.  A fitting time frame, as a dissertation was birthed over those months.  As I got myself organized at home this morning, I realized that those 9 months were the longest break I’ve had from the classroom since I began teaching in 2000.  And on the drive in, I began to worry.  What if I’d forgotten how to BE in the classroom?

Doing sessional gigs mean last minute worries.  I had no classlist, no access to the wireless network and no key to the classroom.  Luckily, I arrived on campus with plenty of time to track down both classlists and keys – I’m still working on the wireless issues.  My biggest fear this morning was whether I’d be able to find parking – my pass had not been processed so I was stuck parking in the pay lots and I always worry those will be full (years of SFU parking woes have left their scars).

In the end all the administrivia (including parking) was taken care of and I only found myself lost once.  Thankfully I have no problem sticking my head in offices and asking for directions from strangers.  But it did make the few students who arrived flustered, late and anxious feel better when I said “Oh, don’t worry, I got lost, too.”

As I drove home this afternoon I reflected on the morning. Those nine months could never have happened.  I can truly say that I feel completely and utterly at home working with my students.

But part of me worries.  I’m back on the old sessional circuit, what if nothing more permanent ever crops up.  Researching the history of composition studies does not make one feel confident in any kind of job security.  Writing instructors are notoriously undervalued in Academia.  And I worry that January will be empty again.  Oh, people keep telling me another sessional position is bound to crop up but I’m not so sure about that.  It didn’t in 2009.

But one thing is certain.  Even if it means being a sessional forever, being undervalued by academics (who should know better) and continually worrying about the future, I won’t give up on this calling.  I never used to understand that good teaching (at any level) truly is a calling.  I understand that now.

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