18 May 2018

Professing: My First Year

Student bribe.
I'm writing this post at the last minutes, so I don't know that I have a lot to say, and I don't know that it's profound. But my spring semester has come to an end, and so too has my first year at UT-- my first year as a full-time college faculty member.

It's not exactly the job I always dreamed of having, but it is a good job. I like my colleagues, and I like my program. The Academic Writing Program (AWR) here is sympatico with how I learned to teach writing, and how I like to teach it. My first semester teaching 101 was rough, but these things often are, and I was able to channel my missteps into a better way of delivering 101 in the spring, and overall I was pretty happy with how those classes went. Probably at some point I can or might write a more detailed take on this, but having taught the class all the way through, I knew where I wanted my students to end up, and so I knew how to get them there better.

I do like teaching academic writing, when it works. A lot of people don't, I think, and certainly few people decide to go for grad school in English literature because they have a burning desire to teach academic writing, but you might end up doing it anyway. I believe that for all its formulas and constraints-- or rather because of them-- it really is a form of writing that generates new knowledge and new ideas in precise, nuanced ways unlike any other. And students really can say something new, even in a non-research class, and those moments make it all worth it. Sometimes, those moments happened this semester.

I can't say I came home happy every day. Four sections of AWR is a lot, especially if you have some kind of aspiration to maintain your reading and writing as well. A lot of grading means you have to be good at regulating your time, and I am not. Habits I built up in grad school that worked on 1-2 classes at a time do not scale up to 3-4.

Hopefully I can spend the summer processing my first year of teaching some more, to set me up for the fall and beyond, but this will have to be a start.

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