Friday, December 18, 2009

You Can't Step In the Same River Twice

As I was driving home from my last day of classes, I started thinking about next semester. This semester I was bogged down with six classes at two different schools in two states. I started my day in NJ teaching three different remedial writing courses with three different preps. After classes ended there, I commuted to Southeastern PA where I taught two sections of one course. On Wednesdays, I had an evening English Comp I class. In case you were wondering, I burned out around week seven.

Next semester will be a lot different as I was only offered one course. In thinking about this course, I had an epiphany while passing the airport. I was looking at the planes concentrating on the road and thinking about fight or flight. Then it dawned on me: in my (brief) teaching career, I have never taught the same class twice. Ever. I started out as a long term substitute teaching American Literature and Rhetoric in a private high school. I moved to the community colleges where I am teaching remedial classes. Next semester will be the first time I am teaching the same course for a second time. I would say it's scary, but it's not. I am no expert, but next semester I will have something I have never had with any of my teaching gigs: time to prepare.

I was hired to replace the high school English teacher on a Monday and told I would start that Wednesday. I was hired at the NJ community college a week before classes started. At the community college in PA, I was hired the Friday before classes began the following Monday. I have had NO time to prepare for any of the classes I have been asked to teach. Yes, I am not a perfect teacher and I still have a lot to learn, but I work REMARKABLY well under pressure. Both my students and I completed all terms with incredible results.

As for next semester, I know it won't be the same. It will be at the same school (which is new) and it will be the same course, but everything else will be different. Greek philosopher Heraclitus (or Pocahontas from the animated Disney film) said "You can't step in the same river twice." Whichever source you chose to associate the quote, the meaning is the same. It is impossible to expect the same results out of a situation regardless of its similarities to another.

I could possibly have another batch of ESL students who are struggling to make the grade, but I'll never have the SAME ESL students. It is possible that I will encounter more lazy students, but I will never experience the same level of laziness that I experienced this semester. It's impossible. That's life.

In the midst of change one thing remains the same: I love teaching. There is nothing else in this world I would rather do. As long as I go into each class with a heart that is willing to lovingly impart knowledge to my young adults, I know everything will be just fine.