To the instructor

To the instructor[1]

To the instructor who is heading into their first-ever day of teaching, and it has been their dream to teach forever and they are so excited they can barely contain themselves,

And to the instructor who is heading into his first-ever day of teaching with a pit in his stomach over the unfinished syllabus or the broken photocopier or the simple fear that he is doing it wrong or the students won’t like him,

And to the instructor who is over it and wants to go home,

And to the instructor who wants to keep caring but isn’t paid her worth, while students pile on with questions, both academic and personal,

And to the instructor who is on top of their game and inspires and knocks everyone’s socks off,

And to the instructor who gives it his all and just wishes the academy cared a little more about teaching,

And to the instructor who has a sick family member or a friend in need, and just can’t be present,

And to the instructor who can’t win because they have a foreign accent, or brown skin, or is a woman, or too gay or too butch or too femme, or doesn’t fit the bill however,

And to the instructor who is still freaked out by that one awful teaching eval from last year,

And to the instructor who is teaching outside of what she knows because she wants to serve the needs of the department,

And to the instructor who can’t get the f*&king projector to turn on, or showed up in the wrong classroom, or doesn’t have a dry erase marker,

And to the instructor who is new at this, and still learning,

I know you.

Some years I have been you, sometimes more than one at a time.

Today, on the first day, so much expectation and anticipation all in one room. You look great. You sound great. It’s ok to be tired. It’s ok to be unsure. And it’s also ok to do great. The term will go, and it will even go well sometimes, and then it will end. And you will have added to the practice of teaching, and some part of that will be meaningful. That’s all we can do, is practice.

[1] I use the word ‘instructor’ in recognition that college and university courses are taught by professors sometimes, but more often by grad students, adjuncts, and the precariously employed, all of whom are fundamental to the university’s mission of education.



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