It’s Saturday and I’m lying on my bed reading the new syllabus created by Joel Williams. It’s the same syllabus I’ll be working with this semester. He’s picked an interesting reading selection for students including a web project called “This I Believe” on NPR.org. Browsing the selections online I click on a couple of topics that interest me. I read about how one woman’s father taught her to never give up in any situation no matter how hard or painful. At a moment she gave up on herself, her father never did. She is now successful in her recent endeavors. In another essay, I read about a father and son’s relationship growing deeper the day the young man drives off across the country to go to college to start anew, and the third, definitely not the last, essay I read was about a woman who pursued a career in literature because it does matter the way the arts can help us see ourselves in new ways.
You see, I’ve been away from academics for almost three years yet still held out for that full time faculty position at an accredited college despite the ever-rising stack of rejection letters I have received and the mental notes of all the times my resume and desire to teach has been ignored.
I have understood the value of writing and have shared my passion to teach to others for many years. I even call myself the Grammar Guardian. You should see my costume. I’m sure my students thought my standards were rather high for grammar because I would find every error. To ease their minds I would tell them that I had written a love letter at the end of each of their papers upon returning them. Whether they understood what I meant, I’m not sure. I have missed their ah-ha moments and triumphs as they improved.
This Monday I’ll be back in the classroom. The phone interview, only a couple of days ago, was the first in about five years. I had almost given up. Somehow the conversation was much less stressful, and I felt much less needy. I explained the type of service I have provided students through my tutoring and teaching as an adjunct professor. I explained the profound love I have to help a struggling student receive a passing grade on a paper. I have tutored my own students on my assignments before the due date if needed. Generous? I suppose. A better term may be service. I was offered the job the following day. I’ll move to a new city in two days to serve more students.
Before this fateful event, I found a website called AuthenticHappiness.org. I took a free quiz to find my character strengths. I wasn’t at all pleased at first when I received the results. My top two strengths are Love and Mercy. Mulling these over I realized that my techniques were completely in line with my strengths. I showed love and mercy in and outside the classroom. I helped students achieve their goals. It’s a wonderful feeling to know my strengths enhanced someone else’s strengths. Give the site’s questionnaire a try. You might be surprised at the results. I surely was, but also thrilled to use these as often as I can now and in my future.