No More Pencils, No More Books
From the time I was graduating from Michigan State with a Bachelors in English, my goal was to be able to teach writing to students at LCC. My career advisor at the time, Courtney Chapin, met with me when I was within months of getting my degree to discuss my future options.
When she told me that she pursued her love of writing Poetry by getting her MFA at Western, and from there was able to teach at Western as well as LCC and Michigan State, I was inspired. I loved writing, but I didn't necessarily love writing essays about the books I read. I loved writing poetry, and creative non-fiction, and journals.
To know that I could teach at the college level was somewhat of a revelation - for some time, I wondered if I had made a mistake in pursuing English as a degree instead of Education and obtaining a teaching certification. From this meeting with Courtney, I finally had a clear path to follow.
I attended grad school to get my Masters in Writing at DePaul, all the while keeping an eye on the open positions list on LCC's website. When a post appeared for Adjunct Faculty in the Writing department, I was thrilled. I applied after finishing up my Writing program, but had missed the window of time when LCC hired in the fall.
The following summer in 2010, I pursued the opportunity again, this time contacting members of the department directly to express my interest in teaching. In the late summer, I was called in for an interview and was offered a course for the Fall 2010 semester - Thursday evenings from 6:10-10:00. At that point, I was working full time in a Human Resources job about an hour away, but the thought of finally being able to fulfill the plans I set out for myself was a great feeling.
I transitioned to part time at my other job to allow myself the time outside of work and class to grade, prepare, and balance it all.
When I was offered two courses in the Spring 2011 semester, I left my other job to focus strictly on teaching. It allowed me to participate in LCC's literary magazine as a faculty editor, meet with students at their own convenience, and give thoughtful comments on essays throughout the semester.
The job I have now at FOX 47 came out of the sky, and it's the kind of job I never knew would be possible or attainable for someone with my educational background, but has been just about the perfect fit. I love what I do for FOX 47 - it allows me to write every day, whether here on my blog or on the website. I know what's going on - for better or worse - in the area and around the world. And I get the opportunity to meet and speak with many different, wonderful people.
For the first year of teaching, I imagined that it was all I'd ever really want to do. The schedule was great, I felt as though I was helping students love writing when so many other teachers before me made them dislike it, and after a couple more years I'd be eligible for full time status at the school.
When I got the job at FOX 47, I was wrapping up teaching a summer course - spending the day at work and heading straight to a classroom for almost four hours got to be pretty tough, not to mention the added time with reading, preparing for class, and grading essays.
I kept my commitment to teach a course this past fall, and by the end of the semester I felt stretched pretty thin. I expressed that I wanted to at least have the spring semester off, and I'd go from there. LCC has always been very accommodating, and perhaps that's what makes being an Adjunct appealing in one way.
I've focused a lot on my work here and have said many times that while I loved teaching, I really do love what I'm doing now and can see myself doing it for a long time. Plus, teaching is something I could come back to in the future. And honestly, it's been wonderful to have the evenings to relax at home with my family, and to have time for things I didn't have when I balanced both jobs.
Still, something happened today that has left me with a twinge of nostalgia for being a teacher, even though I wasn't doing it for very long. I received my teaching evaluation from my Fall 2011 semester students.
At the end of the semester, students fill out scantron forms answering all sorts of questions about the instructor and the course itself. Students can also write in additional comments, which are typed up and included with the report.
I had forgotten all about the fact that these results would be coming to me soon, so it was a pleasant surprise, but also a little scary. When my students fill them out, they don't know yet if they've passed the class. Sometimes students can be scornful, or upset about something that happened during the semester.
Seeing negative comments in print always sticks with me, and I never know what I'm going to see in these evaluation reports.
Still, I was put at ease when I read the comments:
- Stefanie was the best & nicest teacher I had since going to LCC.
- My writing skills improved because of this course.
- Liked the course.
- I absolutely loved this teacher and learned a lot.
- Young teacher with a bright future. Definitely an English(y) type that has the ability to work with all types of students. Knows how to put kids in place if need be. Smart lady.
I've only had about two or three comments in other semesters, so to see these different comments made me smile. I can usually tell based on the content of the comments who might have written them, especially if I've had a good relationship with a student, but with these I can't really tell. And I like that.
Ultimately it would be nice to see how I can make both careers a reality, but I fear there are just not enough hours in the day. I'm happy to see that what I'm doing and what I've done has made a difference in my students' lives, the way my best teachers changed me forever, too.
I'm not sure to know what the future holds, but to have been successful in a difficult, new endeavor makes me feel like I could do anything I set my mind to... that Marty McFly knows his stuff.