Teaching by Surprise

If you had asked me at the beginning of the semester how I thought the semester was going to go, I would have told you, “It’s going to be busy.” That’s my typical response, and it’s always accurate. This September’s actually been one I’ve kind of been dreading. Between the impending kitchen renovation, the return of early morning seminary drives, an upcoming novel revision (with a deadline), my continuing church commitments, getting kids to school on time when Denisa’s teaching early, and getting a Makerspace on campus up and running, I definitely had more than enough to keep me busy.

So if you had said, “What if you added teaching a class at UMF to all of that?”, I probably would have laughed you out of the room. Where in the world would I have found time for it?

But as with many things in life, our preconceived notions don’t always match up with the choices we make. And last Tuesday, I was asked to pinch hit as a teacher for a freshman composition class. And I agreed.

Now, before you just say I’m crazy, allow me to explain why I said yes. First, it’s for a friend, and team teaching with another friend. That helps on many different levels. For one thing, it’s a huge motivation for me to pitch in and help out. I have a hard time saying no when I know someone’s in a bind. For another, since I’ll be team teaching, the course was all set up and ready to go. All I had to do was step in and pick up the reins. And I won’t be there alone; I’ll have someone helping me as we go.

Also, it’s a course I’ve (sort of) taught before. Way back in the murky days of “before I moved to Maine,” I taught numerous classes on writing. Freshman comp and advanced comp. Since then, I’ve done a fair bit more writing myself. So when it comes to teaching about writing, I’m not really worried about it. (If the class had been about teaching physics or biology, then I’m sure I wouldn’t have been asked, just as I know I wouldn’t have said yes.)

Where am I going to find the time for all of it? I’ll be coming to work early and staying late, because I all this teaching is in addition to my librarian duties. (I’m plenty busy as a librarian already. I wouldn’t be able to find the time to teach within those 40 hours each week, even if I could.) It’ll actually help that I’ll be taking Tomas to early morning seminary, then. I’ll be going to bed earlier and waking up earlier. So I’ll mainly be taking time away from my “zone out in front of a show at night” time, which I was going to have to do anyway.

And surprisingly, I’m actually looking forward to it. I’ve now taught for two classes, and it’s been a lot of fun. I have plenty to say when it comes to discussing writing and reading, and they’re a good group of students. It’s twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) from 9:50-11:30 and 12:00-1:40. I’m squeezing in work while I eat my lunch in the break between class. (And yes, they’re paying me for the course as well, so it’s not like I’m doing it all just for the love of teaching.)

That said, this semester looks like it will be especially busy. So if there’s something you’re thinking about asking me to do beyond the things I’ve already got on my plate . . . odds are very against me saying yes at this point. I just don’t have any more time to squeeze out of my schedule for more things.

Wish me luck.


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