School Approaches

Although I am complaining lately that my syllabi, lecture notes, quizzes, and homework prompts have yet to be finished, the reality is that I look forward to the start of school and the return to scheduled, predictable days… and a paycheck.

I'd be content sitting at home and writing. That would be my perfect existence, except I also need money for food, shelter, and some entertainment. Teaching about the topics I enjoy is a pretty good compromise for survival. I enjoy teaching, since it does connect to my passions.

School for me isn't about seeing old friends or being in familiar surroundings. Instead, it is about the books and the opportunity to learn. The idea that I'll be challenged to learn something, to try something, that's what excites me.

As I've written many times, the "year" is an academic year in my mind. July starts the new year, as I receive class assignments and start preparing for the first days on campus in August. The year ends with finals, graduation ceremonies, and the filing of final reports in June.

I worry every year if I will do well. Only a few years ago, I worried about my abilities as a student. Now, I worry about the quality and content of my lectures. Information and knowledge matter to me; I want to be as accurate as humanly possible. There are few topics I don't wish to study, or in which I can't find something fascinating to explore.

As with any job, there are concerns about my body and mind being focused and available on the schedule required. The commute bothers me, because I dislike driving in the city. (I love rural drives, but not urban driving.) The need to interact with so many people (120 students, a dozen colleagues) overwhelms me. Each day, I will need to balance the job with my mental and physical limitations.

A few weeks into the school year, everything settles into place. I learn my classrooms (four of them), my office space, the parking situation, and so on. My daily "paths" around campus become routine and safe. (I'm already plotting how to get from place to place on time.)

Summer was too short, as I failed to make much progress on my to-do list, and I don't know how I'll work on the long list of tasks I wish to finish while teaching. But, there's no better job I can imagine.

Each year is like a new job. It's exciting, with a fair amount of anxiety tossed in for good measure.


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