A friend of mine posted this video on Facebook this morning, and I shared it there, but I thought I would share it here as well.
The video itself is very well done, and while I was watching it, I found myself nodding along because I used to have conversations like this with my students every semester when I was in a traditional classroom setting. Now that I am teaching online, I find it’s harder to get these types of messages across, although it is still my goal.But, beyond the reminder of past teaching moments, I found myself nodding along because I think this is something I have seen come to fruition during my short career.
When I was in high school, I desperately wanted to go to design school. I was fortunate to go to a school that had a pilot computer graphics program, which was a big deal almost 20 years ago (how was that actually almost 20 years ago!). I learned the fundamentals of Photoshop and Illustrator, and I wish I had taken the opportunity I had to learn Flash back then. I also worked on the layout of the school’s literary magazine, and I loved it. I got to work closely with our teacher, and she taught me a ton about how to manipulate text in Illustrator. I am actually pretty amazed at the number of students I know from those classes that are working in these fields now.
But, I was the oldest of four children, and a private design school out-of-state was not feasible, particularly when my mother had examples all around us of kids that had gone to the big fancy art colleges and were now working at local craft stores. So, the local university was the place for me, and I got a great education there for a reasonable price. While I was there, I studied art history as much as I could, but I majored in English.
From there, I married my lobster and completed my masters in teaching composition. And, I have always told people that while I, of course, enjoy reading and critiquing great literature, my passion in English is really related to the writing and the tools we use to write, namely computers. For years, I taught entry level courses (basic composition, intro to lit courses, and rudimentary technical writing), but while I was living in Kansas, I had the awesome opportunity to start teaching technical writing to Engineering students. And, I loved it! I could totally relate to how those students were going to be using writing in their everyday lives, and I loved watching them think.
It is important here to note that the reason I taught was never to make any money because anyone teaching at the college level can tell you that there isn’t much money to be had teaching as an adjunct faculty member. And, without a PhD, there isn’t much to be made as a full time faculty member either. But, I just kept moving and tried not to let the money part bother me. I took all the “resuming building” opportunities I could, and I worked my ass off, but I really did love working with my students. And, the technical writing aspect of my job allowed me to learn more about design from a practical stance.
After I had the little man, my model had to change because I didn’t have the time to dedicate to my students in the way I had before. It wasn’t going to work to grade almost 720 assignments (or over 2500 pages) a semester, so I was fortunate enough to get my foot in the door, through the help of a close family member, editing lesson plans for a national STEM program for 5th grade students. That work has turned into curriculum development, document design, and writing: all of my favorite things. And, I no longer feel like my husband supports my teaching habit. I work from home, and even though he is in daycare, I am able to be here if the little man needs me for something.
Watching the video above was a nice reminder that sticking with what you love despite whether there is any money in it can sometimes eventually lead you right to where you wanted to be in the first place. And, along the way, I learned things that enrich the work I am doing now that I never would have experienced if I hadn’t just surrender to the process.