on my first semester of teaching.

I’ve been thinking about this time last year–how I was in such a bad place. A lot of things were happening. I had just graduated college, I was about to get married and move away to start my graduate degree. I had no idea what was in store for me or how to cope with everything. I was scared. I was depressed. I had no idea if I was on the right path.

People always asked me if I would become a teacher. That’s the standard response to English majors, “Oh, are you going to teach?” It frustrated me; teaching was the last thing in the world I wanted to do. My education pursuit seemed neverending: I started college while I was still in high school, then dove right in to the last three years of my undergrad without taking time off. I graduated in the spring of 2014 and then started my graduate work that fall. It seemed like my entire life was rooted in the education system. I longed to break that chain, to get a job doing something that felt meaningful. Something new.

No, I didn’t want to teach.

Last year was one of the most difficult years of my life. I was supposed to be happy–and I was. Graduating and getting married are miraculous events. But I was caught in an unfamiliar state of being, one that I had never experienced before. Sure, I had experienced tough years–2010-2011 was probably the hardest period of my life, but this was different. Back then, I knew exactly how I felt and why I felt it. Terrible events had happened, but I had a network of friends to help me through. But last year, in 2014, it wasn’t a bad event–it was the happy ones. The ones that people kept smiling about, kept talking to me about, kept anticipating.

It wasn’t that I was sad. It was that I felt numb. It was uncertainty about what was ahead–about what my future plan was. I wanted to get married. I wanted to graduate. But I didn’t know what would happen after that. I had already been accepted to grad school for technical communication, but I didn’t even know if that was what I truly wanted. It felt like a decision that was made for me, based on the circumstances. I had applied for the GTA program for the money and experience, but the thought of actually teaching a classroom terrified me. It wasn’t a choice that I would have made if there had been an alternative available.

The fall semester, I started classes. I wasn’t the head of the classroom yet–they let you observe a classroom for a semester before you teach. Overall, it went well, but at the end of the semester, I still felt inexperienced. There had only been about two class periods where I actually stood at the front of the classroom, both of which felt awkward and nerve-wracking. The material was largely unfamiliar to me; the students rooted in their science and engineering realm were foreign to me, an English major. I felt disconnected from everything.

January approached and I attended a week-long workshop, after which I had to give a ten-minute practice lecture in front of a group of students and teachers. I was required to pass in order to teach in the Spring. Everything went really well.

But when the semester started, I still felt terrified and unprepared.

Today, I left my classroom for the last time this semester. And I can’t help but feel…a bit sad. Empty. Like I helped raised these students all semester long and now we reached the end and they’re going to go off and graduate and start their careers and I will never see them again.

I had 25 students. They were all fabulous.
And I can’t imagine how instructors handle getting a new group of students every semester.
I grew surprisingly close to them.

Looking back, this semester wasn’t perfect, especially towards the beginning. I learned more than I thought I ever could, but above all, I learned that I feel comfortable standing in front of a classroom and working with students.

I learned that I really enjoy teaching.

–Emily

6 Comments

  1. Cait
    May 15, 2015

    Aww, this is a wonderfully sweet post (THAT END PICTURE THO. YOU LOOK SO WONDERFULLY HAPPY). I'm glad it worked out for you in the end! I toyed with going into teaching a while back, but omg, the idea really terrifies me. I'm too shy. XD But so great that you had an excellent class too!!

    Reply
  2. Dr. Sus
    May 15, 2015

    CONGRATS EMILY! Also, I just wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the Creative Blogger Award. No pressure to keep the tag going, I just wanted to recognize a few of my favorite blogs.

    Keep writing forever,

    Susanna

    Reply
  3. Lauren
    May 15, 2015

    What a wonderful candid post. Congratulations on a successful semester! I really believe teaching to be one of the most difficult and rewarding professions out there.
    Have a lovely day!
    -Lauren
    http://www.musingsofaflowerchild.com/

    Reply
  4. Emily Seals
    May 15, 2015

    Thank you so much! =)

    Reply
  5. Emily Seals
    May 15, 2015

    I was trying my best to look happy–I was actually really sick. I wasn't able to attend the award ceremony the night before, sadly.

    Teaching is one of those things that you don't really know how it's going to be until you're doing it. I was lucky enough to have a great group of students to help me along the way. =)

    Reply
  6. Emily Seals
    May 15, 2015

    I didn't know how rewarding it would be until finishing this semester, but it's really worth it. Thanks for stopping by!

    Reply

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