Oct 13, 2010

What I'm Loving Wednesday - My Students

I work as an adjunct instructor at a local community college. I absolutely love my job and my students. I have had days when I've been frustrated, stressed, or tired just like anyone else. But I've never wanted to quit. I have loved working with this group from the very beginning. They are in college, so they've chosen to be there, which helps. And many of them have worked a little, and know that everything is not just handed to you. You have to work for it. There are a few bad apples, but for the most part, I work with mature young adults who want a career and better opportunities.

I started working as an adjunct about 8 years ago. I had work in the corporate field of advertising and marketing management for almost 9 years. Reagan and I were at a point where we knew we'd soon (ha - if you consider 6 years later "soon") have a family and so we started making plans for me to move away from full time work, to more time at home. Almost as soon as we started discussing that plan, I had a friend who was a graphic designer at the time, contact me and tell me about a position for an adjunct instructor position that was available. I visited the class and spoke with the department chair. Within a couple weeks, the position was mine.

I didn't have a clue what I was doing the first semester. I was prepared for lecture and I was able to guide my students through their work, but I had a lot to learn. Lesson #1: Not ALL students study for tests, even when their instructor gives them a study guide. Oh, and just because a deadline for a project is given, some students only view that as a "suggestion." Despite the learning curve on all our parts, I fell in love with the students. I actually keep in touch with several of them even today.

What started out as a twice a week class (Advertising), turned into a couple more classes, until finally, I started teaching every day, a full load, last Spring. I'd probably continue with that work load, were it not for one thing. There's a little girl at my house - you may have seen me post a few pictures of her from time to time - that needs my attention more and more. Oh, and a husband who likes to have a wife that isn't so busy with work that she only cooks dinner once or twice a week. So, this summer, once I had a little time to reflect, I realized, I want to be with them, and available for them, more. I had always said that when we had children I would be a stay-at-home mom. And I was. For about 2 1/2 months. Then, school started back and it just seemed natural to go back to what I loved.

But, I love my husband and my girl more. When I told my students I was leaving after this semester, one of them said, "Well, what about us? We're your kids too." While that was sweet of them to say, the truth is, they aren't. There's only one girl who is. I am responsible for her. And I'm choosing to be with her, and be there for her, as much as I can, while I can.

I will miss my students. They crack me up. One semester I had a student who called me "Juice Box." When he sees me today, that's what he calls me. I still can't figure out why. Then, once I had a student who wrote on my evaluation at the end of one semester, "I like Mrs. Brown's jewelry." Cause, you know, that's why I do this... not to mold and shape minds with knowledge about business, but to inspire people with my jewelry. Oh, and just last week they got me with one I'd never heard before. I was explaining brand value and licensing and I asked, "Do you understand those concepts?" One student said, "Yes, Mrs. Brown. We Gucci." They further explained to me that what they meant was, "We're good. We got it."

While there have been some interesting and funny times, I have also had so many moments of seeing my students grow. I'm tough on them. They don't always welcome that at first. But, if they apply themselves, we're all better for it at the end of the semester. It's very interesting to watch them change from the first semester I have them, until they finish their degree. Those that stick with the program, are always more mature, more professional, and more self-confident than they were when they began.

Here are a few photos of my beginner sewing class a couple weeks ago. They were working on a mid-term project. They made fleece scarves.

Here's my group from last Spring with their finished scarves. We laughed a lot in that class.

While I'm very much looking forward to the time I'll get to spend with Sara Madalin, I will miss my college students.

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