Whew, what a whirlwind the last two weeks have been! I am happy to report that I have successfully completed my first week of teaching at a local community-turned 4 year- college!
In a quick turn of events, I was hired, gave my notice at my crisis-counseling job, and transitioned into this position that allows me the freedom and flexibility to be both a worker and a mother. I spend four days a week at the college, two of the days as an instructor and the other two as an advisor for 16-20 year old students who have dropped out of high school. The mix of kids is delightful. There’s the run of the mill “thug life” kids that bounced from school to school because of expulsions, suspensions, and pop-off attitudes. There are the little-house-on-the-prairie homeschool types, who wouldn’t dream of who have clearly excelled academically to a degree, but the somewhat intellectual arrogance has left them socially awkward and blowing out of regular high school. There are mothers, felons, medically fragile, procrastinators, and class clowns.
Regardless of the reasons behind dropping out, they are welcome here in our program, a 4 quarter structured program (much like a very scaffolded running start) where they are introduced to college and supported as they attempt to get an AA degree, or a transfer degree, or even a certificate in an area of focus. And I get the newbies, the ones who are first stepping into a college classroom and hoping to be changed.
Okay, that’s actually optimistic and lofty. Many of my kids are simply hoping to not fail again. And many of those intellectually arrogant are actually just trying to “jump through the hoop” of my class in order to gain access to their 2nd quarter where they can take an English class, and their 3rd quarter where they can “take the fun classes” (actual quote by a student today, as she pushed her glasses back up her nose).
My curriculum is intangible in so many ways. These students have been taught subjects, but in my class, I hope to give them the experience of learning about themselves in a different way. Because that’s what I learned in college…I learned to think outside of the black/white paradigm and analyze poetry and give my opinion on things without stuttering or wavering in discussion. Of course I will teach things like study skills and learning styles, but I hope they gain a sense of community at the end of it all.
My college self, the one who thought about being an English teacher, but didn’t have the confidence to really finish that degree, is now standing in front of a college class, with unbridled freedom in planning and executing the teaching objectives. Want to watch an episode of Dirty Jobs to illustrate Career Development? No problem! Want to give “This I Believe” speech/essay assignment? Go for it! Want to design group work or have free-writes or listen to music lyrics? All acceptable.
And the best part, perhaps, is coming home at the end of the night, happily tired with enough emotional energy to drop to the rug and play with Potamus for a few hours until bedtime. While I’m not getting much sleep at night, thanks to full-on reverse cycling and Potamus nursing at least every 2 hours (if not more), I am happy. So happy. But like a quietly contented happy.