A couple of weeks after my last blog post, I applied for a new lecturing job and this time, I actually got it! It’s a temporary role, but it has been absolutely brilliant to be teaching again. I truly love it–my students, my colleagues, learning every day, getting paid to do what I love and would actually do for free…After 3 years out of the classroom, I appreciate it so much more.
This week, I’ve been marking and reflecting on the first term. The main theme is that it’s pushed me out of my comfort zone. My comfort zone consisted of my old department, where I studied and taught for 11 years. It was media and comms, film, journalism, and my students mostly undergraduate girls from the Home Counties (Surrey was the most common one) and postgraduate girls from mainland China. I rarely learned everyone’s names because I had about 80 students each term and anonymous marking meant I never really associated a student with their work in my mind.
This department is the opposite. It’s a very small programme with thirty-something first-years, nearly all boys and mostly from the U.S. It’s been very strange to spend so much time around Americans, and I’ve enjoyed it more than I expected to. I’m able to act like a cultural mediator for them, translating English to English and explaining differences, which I love to do. They’re unlike any students I’ve ever taught before, though. While my girls wanted to be journalists and filmmakers, these guys want to be professional footballers. Only some of them actually seem to be interested in the student part of the student-athlete life. They don’t read for fun, which is completely foreign to me. Until now, I genuinely thought if you wanted to go to University you had to be at least a little bit bookish. It’s made me realise, though, that my lack of interest in football (and all sports) is just as foreign to them. It’s been an incredible perspective shift.
The smaller size of the department has also been a shift–my largest class is 30 students and most of them are in more than one of my classes, so I see nearly every student 4 times a week. I know all of their names, where they’re from, which teams they support, how well they’re doing in my classes, what they need help with, etc. This department is smaller in terms of staff, too–I know everybody and it really does feel like a little team. I know about their families, their commutes, what they teach, etc. I’ve had to teach subjects that I’ve never taught before, which has meant having to learn everything a few weeks ahead of teaching it. I’ve learned so much, and it’s really been fascinating!
I’m not sure what will happen after this role ends yet, but for now, I’m just grateful for this challenge & this opportunity to leave my comfort zone. It’s been a brilliant learning experience.
Hopefully, now that I’m in my groove and more confident with work, I’ll be able to get back to blogging–maybe that’ll be a 2023 resolution!