Friday, March 27, 2009

A Break from Teaching

Last night I finished my Poetry class--what an interesting quarter it has been.

And next quarter, I'm not teaching. And after that, I'm not sure.

I'm the Assistant Chair of our department, so it's not like I won't have plenty to do. But part of me feels strange. I haven't ever taken a break from teaching (except for school breaks, like Christmas vacation) since I started teaching in 1988.

And I've taught a lot. As soon as I completed my M.A. in 1989, I started teaching as many classes as the community college would give me, while continuing to work as a T.A. while working on my Ph.D. I've never had the luxury of having a summer off.

In the last year, since my job transitioned into a more traditional, 40+ hour a week, office job, I've still taught 1 class a quarter--4 classes a year, a heavier load than some people with tenure.

I've enjoyed that, because I've moved away from Composition classes and gotten to teach primarily Creative Writing classes, primarily Poetry classes. I like that I've continued to read alertly, always on the lookout for poems that my classes might enjoy. Often, a class has inspired an idea for a poem that I wouldn't have had otherwise.

And unlike years when I taught 5-8 classes at a time, teaching one class a term doesn't leave me too exhausted to do my own writing. Unfortunately the other demands of my job often do.

So, it's an experiment. I won't return to teaching until July, at the earliest. I expect to miss the interactions with students, and I expect to miss the classes that make me feel like I've inspired people--it's that old drama major in me who loves the thrill of being onstage. I don't expect to miss the aggravation of having copies to make, lesson plans to dream up, grading to do.

1 comment:

Karen J. Weyant said...

I find admin work ten times more exhausting than teaching. However, it always seems that people in academics believe that if you are a good teacher, you will be a good administrator.

I guess I am speaking from experience (from my previous stints in admin)that isn't always the case!