I write this post on the day of the 70th anniversary of the Tecnolócigo de Monterrey which is an appropriate time to reflect on my decision to a life as an academic.
Just this week one of my students (he never took a class with me but we interacted and still interact so I consider him one of my students) asked me to write about this. I know he has started teaching and perhaps is in a part of his life of deciding “what to do when he grows up”.
I of course never have grown up; I get older of course but I absolutely refuse to grow up. Perhaps that is why I am still “in school” but this time on the “other side of the classroom”.
People choose to live the life of a teacher for many reasons and each teacher has her own reasons for choosing that life. I cannot speak of the decisions of others, but mine comes down to two reasons:
- I love teaching anything.
I have been teaching for as long as I can remember. In grade school and high school I was always helping the other students. I had the good fortune of being able to learn concepts quickly and even more fortune of having teachers that harnessed my gifts and put me to work helping the other students. Thank you Miss Kowaluk (grade 3), Mrs. Parker (grades 4 and 5) especially for being two of many role models I follow every day in my own teaching.
I continued teaching later in life by coaching (baseball and then soccer) since I had grown past the point of having the dedication to play and wanted to pay back what my coaches had given me (thanks especially to Mr. O’Brien).
- I apparently am pretty good at it.
I’ve been at this institution for most of the past 18 years and have taught many classes with many more students. I have enjoyed each semester and always look forward to the next one. I always want to try new techniques and teach new classes. This has never “gotten old” after this long and that leads me to believe it never will. I have won some awards for teaching but that really is not what drives me. I live for the “I get it” look in the eyes of my student when she solves some problem or explains a key concept to me. That “aha” moment definitely never gets old and will erase every bad experience I may have had that week with some of the students that (apparently) really do not want to be studying.
I am also extremely proud to receive a special award this coming Monday along with other fine colleagues at an event for professors that “left their mark” on past students. As part of our 70th anniversary celebrations the alumni were asked to nominate professors (and leave comments I hear but have not received those yet) and I came out in the list published here. The fact that these are possibly long-graduated students taking the time to vote for us is amazing and truly touches us that we affected them so much that they remember our names and took the time to cast their votes for us.
Thanks to Yolanda Cham for the photo in the post.