Recently, I’ve started singing the Inchworm song to my kids as their bedtime song. Not only has it allowed my three-year-old son to start learning basic math, one particular line has given me pause:
Seems to me, you’d stop and see
How beautiful they are.
This semester, like all semesters, has been a whirlwind, compounded by my decision to go on the job market and thus spend a significant amount of time pulling together applications. I’ve received two rejection emails already, and radio silence on all the other ones. I’m starting to worry that I will be attending the MLA with zero interviews lined up. This semester, like just about every semester, I wonder if I am making any difference at all for my students, if my pedagogy is actually effective, or just an exercise in futility. This semester, like every semester, life has gotten in the way of my career; this time, I was unable to attend NCTE in person because of illness.
But my daughter is learning how to read on her own. My son is learning his letters and used “puny” correctly in a sentence. My husband is making progress towards tenure and our paperwork has finally come through so we can get green cards. This past weekend, dealing with my illness while my husband was away at his own conference, friends came through to take the kids off my hands, if only for a few hours. We have a place, filled with friends young and old, to spend Thanksgiving. My kids have friends and activities that they enjoy.
I am grateful for my family and that we are finally integrating into the community.
With every piece of bad news, with every setback, large of small, I have a large and wonderfully supportive virtual community as well. That I can keep learning and growing as an academic despite of my position and location is a wonderful thing, connecting with so many fantastic people virtually. Writing this post for Digital Writing Month has reminded me of just how much I have accomplished with my blogging in a relatively short time. I have a platform that allows me to write posts like this one last week that resonated with so many people.
I am grateful for my virtual community and my digital writing.
Despite all of my writing and tweeting to the contrary, I still enjoy watching my students rise to the challenge of my peer-driven course. Much of my frustration comes from systematic challenges that have little to do with what goes on in the classroom and exist at just about every institution. The rest comes from my inability to (yet) adapt my peer-driven approach in my Freshman Writing class. My growing awareness as a pedagogue fuels these frustrations because I believe that can and should be doing better.
And then today, during my classroom visit by my chair, one of my students admitted that he was jealous of his friend who was taking my class next semester. “If I could, I would totally take this class again.” More than a few of my students nodded their heads in agreement. If I hadn’t been so wrapped up in the fact that I was being “evaluated” in that very moment, I might have better appreciated what my student just admitted: I had done what I had set out to do. My students enjoyed learning so much that they want to come back and keep doing it.
I am grateful that I have students to teach and I want to do right by them.
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