Thursday, March 08, 2007

Coming into my own as a teacher....

This month marks my fifth month as an adjunct professor of English at Davenport University. Five feels like it's flown by. We just began our Winter II term, which marked the addition of two more classes for me (Davenport works on a system in which students can take full 15-week terms--i.e. "Winter term"--or accelerated 7-week courses--i.e. "Winter I" or "Winter II." I already had a full-term class continuing for the Winter term, but now I also have two Winter II classes. This also marks the third time I've taught a PLATO-based English 020/021 course, and I really feel like I've hit my stride. I know what I'm doing, I know what I'm teaching, I know how to engage the students and make it feel worthwhile.

The interesting thing I'm noting is that this third PLATO class is also my first night class at this location. I've taught a night class at the Battle Creek campus before, but that place has a totally different demographic to begin with than here in Grand Rapids. Because this class now is a night class, I'm seeing a totally different group of people than I usually see during the day. They're a bit older, for one, and for some reason much more talkative and interactive with me when I'm up front teaching. They respond to questions more quickly and more confidently, and it seems like they're really grasping the information (and letting me know that they are). I don't know what makes the difference, but it's enjoyable for me.

Teaching is enjoyable. I really don't think I've ever had a better, more rewarding (and challenging) job. I never thought I would like it this much. I remember when I was younger, and I told people I was an English major, I always used to get offended when the first question out of anyone's mouth was, "So are you going to teach, then?" I felt very high and mighty about my poetry and my creativity, and I thought teaching would dampen it. Au contraire. Teaching requires every bit of creativity and ingenuity I have. How can you make sentence structure interesting? How can you make a game out of editing an essay? How can you make this relevant to someone who's going to school to be an accountant or a phlebotomy tech?

It was like a little feather in my cap when, at the end of the Winter I term, one of my basic composition students said to me, during a class discussion, that she'd realized she could apply what she was learning in this class to all of her other clasess, even though they weren't specifically related to English or writing. It was my crowning achievement, to see that light bulb go on.

And today I was thinking back to how this may have been foreshadowed in my life....because I now see that I was very drawn to teaching all along, in different ways. I loved teching for colorguards (especially when I got to write some of the choreography), and in Mary Kay, I loved it when I was offered the position to teach some of the trainings. I felt like I was really impacting people, and that together we were all benefitting from it.

On a different note, I have been spending quite a lot of time on my yoga and working on my Law of Attraction practice. I really can't believe the difference they've made in my life--the yoga particularly so far. I'm delving into Anusara and it resonates with me. Without sounding particularly self-destructive, I want to say that it makes me feel really beautiful when I practice it. Which is not to say I don't feel I'm beautiful at other times--it's just that when I'm putting my body into a pose, I feel so graceful and lithe and light on my feet, so a part of the universe at that moment, that I can't help but feel beautiful. I like to see myself in mirrors or windows, see the shapes my body is making, and it's like all the parts of myself, of my physical appearance, that I don't like--they fade, I don't see them anymore. And the more I do it, the longer this emotional sensation lasts, so even when I'm not specifically practicing, I catch glimpses of myself in the mirror or what not, and I find myself smiling at what I see, rather than frowning at my chub or trying to rearrange it to see what I'd look like if it weren't there (yes, I've done this!).

Yoga is teaching me to love my body, as is. To marvel at its abilities and honor its limitations. To be thankful for it.

And gratitude has to be one of the most powerful forces in the universe.