|Teh news: She is good.|
I finally have a teaching gig lined up for summer school!
With faculty, I think most are pretty glad to have a vacation since they wait about five seconds after the last kid clears the perimeter and then do exactly the same mass exodus, complete with squealing cheers and freeze frame jumps with knees bent and one arm extended upward in triumph. But for hourly staffers like me, there is actually quite a bit of seniority involved in finally getting that invitation. (I've been waiting seven years) Of course, this may also have something to do with the fact that I'll be making over twice what I do in my current position, and the six weeks of summer school will get me as much money as a regular semester.
This isn't a personal blog, so I don't talk a lot about other jobs, but I've always connected writing and teaching in my head. I almost can't uncouple the two of them from each other. In fact, the metaphor of a train might be more telling than I realize as I tend to keep and treat them separately most of the time--a bit like totally different train cars, but that when I consider them together, I do feel like they're both connected and travelling in the same direction. I know there's probably a point of writing success at which I would stop teaching because as much as I love it, it does occupy a space in my head of "day job." But I'm not sure I'm really ever going to reach that point--certainly not before I'm a shriveled old prune of a man telling anyone who will listen what's wrong with "kids these days."
It was during my return to school to become a better writer that I was recommended by one of my professors for the tutoring program, which later turned into sheer nepotism to shepherd me into the supplemental instruction program. And that turned into a truly perfect job to have while I was in school. Discovering that I loved teaching always ran a parallel and mentally associated course with my conscious development as a writer.
There is no better way to learn than by teaching. Sure, that's a platitude, but so is "don't eat yellow snow" and that one bears out time and time again as well. When I teach I have to figure out how to get ideas out of my head and into someone else's and it isn't an option to tell them THEY are the problem. This is exactly like writing. So it works my communication skills and even forces me to come up with new ways to explain old ideas--another important skill when writing. It was through teaching that I learned much about grammar and how certain rules were very important and others were less so. I became comfortable with the fact that grammar was not the end all of writing ability, and that content was far more important. Teaching those rules has helped me to learn many of them. Also, it helped me realize how many of the scary sounding grammar things I already knew how to use and used every day, but just didn't know the names of, like "conjunctive adverbs."
I also write better when I'm teaching. Not...exactly at the same moment, because those demanding students never let me finish the sentence I'm working on before they have another question, but generally speaking. When I am off for summer or winter break, I start to get a very distorted vision of time. I always imagine that I'm going to be a paragon of productivity, but as the infinite expanse of time stretches out ahead of me, I keep thinking that there is plenty of time for the ambitious plan I have. Suddenly, I'm in the last couple of days wondering what the hell happened. I still do my daily writing, but all the extra plans I had seem to fall apart. My vacations end up being more about me wasting time than utilizing it. Having a commitment really helps me to better prioritize, and having a sense of time passing helps me not to waste so much of it. Even my daily routine is better served by having something I have to work around rather than giving me infinite ability to procrastinate.
Even though this gig is only three days a week for six weeks, it's still going to be (for me) a great opportunity and not entirely unhelpful to me as a writer. So if you'll excuse me, I'm going to do a jump with a freeze frame of myself with bent knees and one arm raised triumphantly.