I just got my dream job as a university lecturer – now what?
ASSESS YOUR OWN SITUATION AND BE YOURSELF!
It may seem obvious to be yourself, but I had a hard time understanding that fostering my own style, and being authentic in the process, worked much better than mimicking my own professors’ styles. Especially since most of my professors were men….
Getting to this point was a long, and sometimes painful, road.
When I started teaching at my current university, I was struggling to fit in. It was a College before I was hired so the institution was experiencing growing pains too. I was doing my best to recreate my own university experience, but I was in a very different environment.
I teach liberal education to first and second year students. My students generally have no idea why they should be studying philosophy or poetry or literature when their Major is in Business or Accounting. They understand it is supposed to make their education “well rounded” but honestly most of them don’t really understand how or why. After all, aren’t actual business courses more relevant and important than reading old books written by white men – isn’t this even something of the past?
Furthermore, the expectations of my students are the opposite of mine. While I wanted to learn and be challenged as an undergrad, my own students are unsure if learning is valuable, and they want to be nurtured more than provoked. While I loved reading, they find it a challenge. To make matters worse, there are students who love reading and learning, but they are in the minority. How do I meet their needs while not alienating the rest?
My point is that my own academic life was almost the polar opposite of my new academic life. At first, I did try and fit a round peg into a square on more than one occasion, but slowly I began to think about MY SITUATION, MY STUDENTS, MY SANITY.