Although I am beginning my seventh year as an instructor of writing, I still view myself as a “new” teacher, or what my mother, a high school English teacher, would call a “baby teacher.” Do not misunderstand me – I have gained some knowledge and confidence in what I have chosen as a career, but it always seems to evaporate in response to some new challenge or issue that arises in my classroom. Simply put, teaching is a brutal profession; it takes its toll on you mentally, physically, and on occasion, emotionally. No one celebrates weekends like we teachers do.
After six years of learning on the job, amongst my students, I have transitioned into a new classroom: my laptop computer. I am an online writing teacher now. So, in a way, I have felt like this year marks my return to the beginning; I am a brand new “baby teacher.” I have lost all of that experience and confidence that would sometimes help me feel empowered, like I am not an imposter. It has been tough – learning to communicate and encourage students through a virtual screen that separates us, taking away traditional human interaction, and having to type so much more than I speak. I love it. I have loved starting fresh with a new method of teaching, trying different techniques, and learning to communicate with my students through my computer.
In many ways, the symposium is like this; it forces us to bring whatever experience or confidence we have, question it, share it (with “baby” teachers), and receive it from other, more experienced teachers. We get a chance to come together and admit that we do not know everything about teaching, but we do know that we want to get better and see our students succeed. I look forward to meeting many of you, and listening to all of the wonderful things you are doing (and then stealing them for my own classroom), as well as relating to the struggles and doubts we all face in this profession as we search for possible solutions. I hope to leave with a little more confidence, a little more experience, and then we can all celebrate the weekend.