When I was a young instructor, I remember reading in an article about a old, tenured professor who had taught for thirty years, but as the author pointed out, he had actually taught the same year thirty times. This sounded horrifying to me, and it still does. When I was in the classroom, I couldn’t help but change up lessons each semester, not only for pedagogical purposes but also for the simple fact that I don’t like being bored. Plus, I always learned something each time I taught that needed to be incorporated the next time I taught.
At a college, I would have to be oblivious not to learn something new everyday. So here, in no particular order, are some of things I learned (or relearned) this semester:
- Do stuff that scares you. We held a poetry slam this April. Students got up to read their own works. Voices cracked. Hands shook. But they soldiered through, and it was easy to see how proud they were when their poems were greeted with applause. (I am at a stage right now where it’s too easy to avoid things that scare me. It was a good reminder to get back out there.)
- Don’t wait for the right time. We have two new library assistants who are eager to try new things. With the amount of change going on at our college right now, my initial reaction was to wait. But the young don’t like to wait. We did the Poetry Slam and the Long Night Against Procrastination anyway, and both were successful. And now we know many things to incorporate and to avoid when we put them on again.
- A fairy godmother doesn’t always arrive. Sometimes there is no miraculous fix. We have to admit the mistake, accept the consequences, and then get on with things.
- Even good changes come with some bumps, and it’s counterproductive to expect otherwise. It takes time to rebuild trust. It takes time to untangle old procedures and begin new ones.
- People say the weirdest things to pregnant women. (Most of them are funny, although Librarian Emily might be the best judge of that since she’s the one who’s pregnant.)
Happy end of the semester, everyone!