The semester is about two weeks from ending, so I’ve started to reflect on this last semester even though I have still have an absurd amount of papers to grade and presentations to listen to.
This academic year has been quite a wake up call. So far life after the MFA has not been what I expected. I don’t feel any more artistic or creative. In fact, I feel stifled and disappointed in myself. I didn’t do nearly enough writing, although the Spring semester was better for writing than the Fall. Also, towards the end of this semester I read four books (which is not that great) but it’s better than no books.
As the semester and academic year ends I’m seriously deciding if being an educator is really for me.
Recently I had a meeting with the adjunct coordinator at one of my schools. I was super paranoid about being observed because the last time I was observed at the school where I teach remedial courses, my supervisor basically ripped me a new one and made me wonder if I was cut out for education at all.
The day after I was observed at the school where I teach good ol composition I had a note in my box. It was super cryptic and said, “OMMFA, we need to talk. Please see me in my office at noon.”
I nearly hyperventilated teaching my class. After I released my students, I debated going to see my boss. It was a Friday and I had a job interview for a full-time instructor position on Monday. I didn’t want my self-esteem to be totally damaged, but I figured what was the worst thing my boss could tell me, “you suck, don’t expect any sections in the fall”? FH always says “I was looking for a job when I found this one,” so that was my mentality when I went into Boss’s office for the sit down.
Boss: I wanted to talk to you about something.
Me: [gulp] Am I in trouble?
Boss was super serious. I was totally about to get my ass chewed.
Boss: One Mean MFA, all of the adjuncts are at a certain level.
Boss drew a diagram that looked like a bar graph with all the bars at the same level. Each bar was some element of teaching: organization, education, results, teaching, etc.
Boss: But when it comes to teaching and results you are above and beyond the rest.
Boss drew two bars super high above the rest to emphasize my awesomeness.
Boss: Since a teacher like you rarely comes along, I feel you need to be mentored. I’d like to see you dress more professionally, and be a little less brusque with your students.
Me: I dress inappropriately?
Boss: I’d like to see you show some dignity.
Me: I’m sorry, I didn’t think I dressed inappropriately.
Okay, let me first say this is not the first time I’ve been told this. I teach in the middle of nowhere ( lots of Conservatives–some who are Birthers and believe Global Warming is a myth, and that the theory of Evolution is a crock). For whatever reason I always get jobs in places like this. My first year teaching I was called into the principal’s office about a “mini-skirt.” This “mini-skirt” was a black pencil skirt with a slight slit in the back (you know so I could move in it) and came below my knees. When I told FH about the mini-skirt his first response was “you own a mini-skirt?”
When I was observed I had apparently dressed like a whore. I had on a white, fitted tee, a scarf (no cleavage), slacks from Express, and a long cardigan that basically functions like a blazer. I know please hold back your gasps, how dare I teach looking so inappropriately and provocatively. I’m such a slut.
Boss: That shirt was entirely too tight and practically transparent.
I don’t know what the hell Boss is talking about. I was wearing a huge colorful scarf that basically covered my entire torso, not to mention the jacket/cardigan.
So, anyway after that meeting I felt pretty good, aside from the whole I’m too rough on my students and dress like a hooker thing. I’m still not sure why I need to be so effing nice to my students because even Boss can see that my students produce the results. If it ain’t broke…
Now as the semester comes to a close and I finish grading the never-ending files of papers, I think that perhaps working Downtown as a copyeditor, while probably not nearly as exciting as wondering how I’ll be disrespected at work by a supervisor, colleague, or student, might be the change I need to refocus my life towards my writing. Teaching at the adjunct level sure isn’t getting that memoir written.
Why is it that I have an existential crisis once a month?