Having done the same thing for pretty much my whole career, I don’t worry about things like keeping my resume up to date or going through the interview process. Teaching part time, I often try to help my students get their resumes ready to apply for career changes and new jobs.
Thinking about sitting on “the other side of the desk” kind of makes me sick, in that I just don’t want to do any more job hunting. My teaching jobs are with folks who have known me for many years and know I am capable.
Then when a new opportunity comes in after all these years – an offer from a school that would normally (most probably) not want a good ole boy from Alabama – I have to listen. I have to be interested in teaching in the hallowed halls of buildings of a university that has been around since the 17th century – I just have to – because my Mama would want me to at least listen to what they have to say or want me to do.
True academians who have spent most of their lives teaching intimidate me a little – yes, I’ve been a researcher involved with space stuff for many years, but I still get a little wheezy when I think about the math departments of these very selective universities. So when they invited me to come “talk to them” about teaching a course for them, my palms started sweating and got a big knot in my stomach.
All I could think about was 1987 when I faced my dissertation committee for the first (and second time). The having to go back a second time was not entirely my fault, but it was partially. Standing in front of lot of professors working problems on a chalkboard is scary and that is what I thought I “might” have to do to sell these fellows on letting me teach a course for them.
The sliding chalkboards down in front of classroom that looks a little like an old movie theatre – I got to see them and I will get to entertain/teach down there with the old chalkboards in the old buildings.
You see these fellows didn’t want me to prove my abilities after all these years… They actually wanted to sell me on doing it – which was nice. Sometimes we (speaking more about “I”) get all in a frizzle about scary things or intimidating events when we really shouldn’t. We should face them with the confidence of age and experience (when you have it) and not be afraid.
Sitting there in the middle of these three academians, was more like sitting there with three friends. It was nothing short of wonderful. After talking to these fellows, I was pretty sure that they were “good ole boys” also. Maybe not with the same Alabama accent, but with accents from all over the world. So, the South doesn’t have a monopoly on good ole boys.
We talked a little math, mainly my approach to helping students figure out how this particular course applies to them and their career goals. Of course, I had to throw in a couple of stories about my children and how my Daddy taught me math with a deck of cards and a pair of dice.
Then they pretty much just wanted to show me the nice classroom, a nice little office in the basement and the way out.
So, I’m pretty sure it went as well as could be expected. So, if your child is off at a fancy university taking a calculus course and they tell you that they are pretty sure either Forrest Gump or Jeff Foxworthy might be teaching their class, it’s probably me.
I keep my day job of course and get to moonlight as a fancy professor. Maybe I will wear a gown, I definitely have to get a pair of sandals.
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