I've had a difficult time with my job lately.
The work is challenging, but it always has been. That's one of the things I like about teaching college students about writing.
I've been angsty, uncertain if this career choice was a mis-step.
I've been feeling disrespected. Many people who aren't teachers or don't live with teachers see the winter break and the summer months off, and think I have it easy. I've been told this, so I know there are people who think it.
Some people in my life have said that I work part time, despite teaching a 4-4 load, serving on two committees, and doing things like spending over 30 hours (last week) on grading.
I've been frustrated by students who don't read carefully, who don't follow instructions, and then behave badly when asked to resubmit work according to instructions.
As with most jobs, there are hundreds of ways to be discouraged. I'm not Mark Thackery or Erin Gruwell, yet there's a pervasive attitude that I should want to be them. I don't want to be them. I am a woman who loves the English language. I am a woman who is passionate for words, who has developed some skill at helping others name and control what they can do with words.
I get a reset button every semester. New faces. New chances to improve my teaching.
Yet, I've been angsty and uncertain.
Today, though, a young man came to see me during my office hours. His story of what he has been through as he's tried to bounce back from a bad semester, from bad decisions, from a horrible personal situation humbled me.
Then a young woman stopped in to thank me for offering her an extension on a project. She was upset, tears in her eyes during class earlier in the week. I asked to speak with her after class and told her that she didn't have to explain what was going on, but she should feel free to ask for an extension if she needed it. I don't think she knew she could do something like that. Today when she met with me, she looked me in the eyes for the first time. She had a conversation with me. Her gratitude humbled me.
I remembered the most important thing I should bring to my work.
I don't want to be the cranky professor who mutters "kids these days," and that is the direction I've been heading. The students who make me feel that way deserve grace, and I need to behave with grace towards them if I'm going to do my job and find the joy of it again.
What has reminded you to strive to work from a place of grace lately?