Here’s how it is. While finishing my Ph.D. and preparing for my first go-round on the academic job market, I returned to teaching high school on an interim basis. The switch was intense. The time demands for keeping up with a high school classroom are so different from the university setting. Less prep time. More grades. Fewer opportunities to write. Dramatically fewer chances to research and pay close attention to new directions in the field.
But also… More face-time with students. More collaborative opportunities with colleagues. More chances to take risks in the classroom with different methodologies, new texts, or spontaneous experiments with technology.
Even in my first week (aside from the moment when I accidentally stole a laptop cart reserved for another teacher–oops!), I noticed that even the busiest teachers in my department or academy were more than willing to immediately share what was working in their classroom and brainstorm ideas for how to make something similar work in mine. It’s an inspiring feeling to know that we, as educators, are all working towards similar goals for our students.
The sense of community was no different when I was teaching at UT, but I feel like my appreciation of it has changed in this year away from academia. The last years of dissertation writing were something of a system shock–extended periods of isolationist writing punctuated and enlivened by conferences and colloquia. It took time for me to recognize that participating in the community requires just that–participation. UT has a large, vibrant medievalist community, but I took some inspiration from the folks over at The Lone Medievalist when I began to teach in a different setting. Sharing resources, connecting interests, and seeking outside viewpoints are crucial to growing as a scholar and teacher.
My point, and I do have one, is similar to what Brandon Hawk argued last week, “all scholarship is autobiographical.” And so is teaching. And it is also personal and communal. To do the work that we do as scholars and educators is to constantly invest pieces of ourselves into it while also acknowledging our debts to the influence and inspiration of the community we claim.
This site, then, will contain as close to everything as I can manage–teaching materials, conference papers and abstracts, ill-conceived blog posts, and whatever else seems to fit. At the very least, it will be a snapshot of me…perhaps more detailed (and a whole lot less slimy?) than my academia.edu profile, though with fewer pictures of my kids than Facebook.
One of my biggest goals for this site is to be much more open about my teaching practices–Every current or in-progress syllabus or assignment that I post will be a link to the Google Doc allowing comments–I’d love some suggestions or ideas for new things to include.
That’s it for now, I think. There will be more to come, but we can officially call this the relaunch. Thanks for reading!