Tag Archives: learning

Wanted: advice from people who teach


I’m not a teacher (yet), but it’s my someday goal. A little background info:

I feel comfortable, though maybe a bit isolated sometimes, in academia. This is not to say I have no experience in the “real world”- I worked in fast food for four years after High School, and only went to get my undergrad degree after an inspiring stint as a kindergarten assistant. I don’t normally like kids, but 5-year olds are actually the best people, and they made me realize that I wanted to work with people who want to learn.

My first degree was followed by a couple years in the soul-sucking, factory-like setting of the Value Village back room. To clarify, I have 13 years of experience as a minimum wage employee, and this is the most shady, unethical employer I’ve encountered (a story for another time). Fortunately, in an effort to avoid more experiences like this, I applied to a Master’s program that looked like it would give me both support and freedom to do research that I felt was important, and I hoped for the best. I was so happy to get accepted and be provided with sufficient financial resources to make going to school a reality, and the last two years in this program have been amazing. I don’t want to leave.

The understanding that this is where I am meant to be is both calming and frightening. It’s unlikely that I’ll find work in my field if I don’t go on to get a Ph.D, so that is clearly the next step, and I still have a year or so to choose my next move. However, I will be on the lookout for teaching-related positions, and I want to be as prepared as possible.

Right now I’m taking a course in teaching in a university setting. So far it has been incredibly helpful, and last week I had my first pretend-teaching experience (not counting the KA job or an enrichment program I designed for sixth-graders, both of which probably taught me more than the kids whom I worked with…) I was lecturing to real adults!

I can’t explain how important I felt it was that I did it right. Lecture-style is not my preferred teaching method, but I know it will be a necessary skill to have, so I gave it a try. And it seems I did do alright, I got helpful feedback, and people seemed very interested in the subject (electroconvulsive therapy). But I have regret that I am working within a feminist framework and didn’t make it clear where I stood on the issue and why I’m so passionate about it, and I’ve had an unsettling feeling ever since. I feel like I’ve kind of betrayed my “teaching philosophy”, contradicted myself, or become a hypocrite, or… something.

I would love to get some feedback, not necessarily just from people who are teachers by profession, but also people who happen to teach in any job or aspect of life (I am a believer that most learning takes place outside the classroom,  but that school provides entry points into new areas of knowledge and access to different perspectives). The question I am sending out into the social/cyber world is this: what strategies do you use to deal with feelings of inadequacy or anxieties about your teaching?