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Thoughts about Teaching at the End of the School Year

May 25, 2012

Happy Friday, dear readers. I hope your week has gone well and you have a lovely weekend planned. It has been a very long week here. I’m not exactly sure why, perhaps because it is near the end of the school year. So today, I just have some thoughts to share about teaching at the end of this school year.

I love teaching. It’s just who I am. I love it, even when it is at the end of the school year and I’m exhausted. It has been a long year here, as I’m sure it has been at your institution, too. But I think what gets me through all the craziness, the budget woes, and the inevitable long committee meetings, is that I love teaching and all the other stuff is what I need to do to get to my teaching. And I hope, if you are in the position to teach, that you love it and that it is something that you truly want to do.

Last Saturday, I was at the library for five hours, not because it was my turn on the reference desk but because I had volunteered to come in and teach a class of AP history students from one of our local high schools how to do research for their papers in our databases. I was the replacement librarian for this class as my colleague who had taught the high school teacher’s class last year wasn’t available this year. It was a blast. We had just over 20 students come and we got to use the new laptops. I got to listen to interesting research questions and suggest books and journals that might help with their research. I was able to reintroduce the teacher to the wonder that is Calisphere (she was already a fan, but hadn’t used it in a while). I got to troubleshoot a host of issues and questions that come from using new resources for the first time (from the students’ perspective). It was the kind of class that makes me excited to take time out of my weekend to teach instead of puttering around the house or catching up on much-needed sleep.

That class was just what I needed at the end of a long school year. I wish everyone could have that kind of teaching experience–the kind that absolutely exhausts you, but at the same time completely, utterly, and fully excites and energizes you because you know what you are doing is making a difference. It may not be a flashy or showy difference in the world, unlike the release of a new shiny tech product, but it is a lasting difference. Because teaching, in my mind, is one of the best things in the world. I’m here because I love to teach.

Why are you doing the job you are doing? I hope it is because it inspires you and keeps you motivated even when it is the end of a long, challenging year, even when your eyes start twitching, and even when you can’t believe there is possibly one more piece of paperwork in the world that you need to fill out. Plus, if you are really lucky, you’ll not only be doing work that inspires you, you’ll also get a lovely thank you card occasionally, too.

In the end of the school year theme, go watch Neil Gaiman’s Commencement Address (unfortunately WordPress won’t let me embed it here). It is lovely. My favorite bit comes near the end when Gaiman says, “So be wise because the world needs more wisdom and if you cannot be wise pretend to be someone who is wise and then just behave like they would.” That is fantastic, wise advice for all of us at whatever point in our journeys we happen to be.

Have a wonderful weekend full of wonder, relaxing, good food, and good friends. I’ll be back soon with more. Allons-y!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Malka permalink
    May 31, 2012 4:42 pm

    It is so rewarding to know what you like doing and doing it. It took me 3 decades to find out that I love teaching. I hope to teach for 3 more decades.
    Calisphere is an amazing source, thanks for sharing.

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