I wrote this almost a year ago. At the time I felt strangely about making it a public post. I still think of Roy Superior (the teacher I write about below) often. He was hilarious and determined and kind and patient and incredibly talented. He made a wonderful mark on the world.
I learned recently of the passing of one of my favorite teachers ever. I think about him nearly every time I walk into a class with my students (as it would happen, I started teaching college this year.) Although I have worked with students many times in different ways I haven’t before had the opportunity or the responsibility of standing at the front of the classroom and having it be my class. Standing on this side of the lecture and demos I realize I haven’t thanked my teachers nearly enough. Thank you, so much, for all the lessons you taught me. For the intentional, planned lessons and for the spontaneous, necessary ones. I wouldn't be here without you and I don’t want to hold back my gratitude for when you can’t receive it, either.
I realize now that I did not understand or appreciate the lengths to which you had to go just to show up, to share your knowledge let alone create meaningful lessons and experiences for us, your students. I am only just starting to have an idea. After putting many hours into writing my syllabus, creating project descriptions and outlines, timelines, requirements I find myself stymied on a weekly basis. There is always something I did not think of, something that my students ask about that I do not know and which sets us off in a new direction of information-finding. It is exhausting.
I am with my student two nights a week after my day job as a fabric engineer. Before classes I am pulling information, images, creating lectures and presentations. After classes I am meeting with students and working through issues scholastic, academic and personal. I start my days around 5am and often don’t find myself home again until 11pm. It is hard. It is exhausting … And I am so in love with it.
I like my day job. I love working in textiles and apparel. I am excited and tickled every time I see something I worked on in a store or on a kid at the playground. I am psyched to be able to buy the things I have helped to make for my own family and to have phone conversations with friends and family far away while also having them see and touch the things I have worked on where they are, too. This is all very cool. Teaching is cooler.
One of my grad school professors proudly hangs a sign above her office door that says, “Do what you love.” I like my day job. I love teaching. Thank you to each of you who helped me get where I am. Thank you for putting in the hours and the work, dealing with the tears (for I am quite generous with them) and the resistance. Thank you for putting up with each and every one of your students on the good days and the bad. A moment of pure selfishness: thank you for putting up with all of it so that I could personally benefit from your presence in my life. Because you kept coming back, I benefited. I think I was grateful in the moment, sitting with you in an office, at a table, a desk, a computer, a loom, a workbench… Now I understand better. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
So many times, thank you.