Why Teaching Makes Me Smile

Right now I am having a particularly nasty bump in my life. Things are very chaotic and I am not sure what will be around the next corner. So suffice it to say I am a feeling a bit overwhelmed and emotionally drained.  Teaching these last few weeks has been difficult. I have been so tired and I have tried to not be cranky at all my students. I am sure I may have accidentally snapped a couple of times but I am trying to use all my Vulcan strength to fight back the bitterness and anger. It is after all not my students fault nor should I bring it to work but it is hard.

So as a way to try and find some light in a rather black tunnel I think about why I chose the path of teaching and it makes me smile. I think about all the lives that I have touched and perhaps changed slightly. I think of the flute student who saw me walking by from inside a cafe and literally jumped out of her shoes to come and say hello to tell me all about how great she was doing. I think of the small message left by a science student on her last exam letting me know how she used to think science was boring and how she used to hate it but now she loves it and can not stop reading about it.  Also, thoughts of the class that got together to sign a card in appreciation for the teaching I gave them during the semester.  These types of thoughts make me smile.

I can also think back to the numbers of students I helped into the field of science. Students now way past a graduate degree and successful. As well as, I have had a number of students who have asked me for help in the discovery of their career path.  I have not always steered them toward science but many have come back to say thank you for helping get their head together. It is always nice when I see students on campus and they smile at me and wave or their buddy wants to know when I will teach that physics class again.

I know it sounds like I am honking my own horn because I guess I am but this post really isn’t for you it is for me. I need to heal. Teaching will make me heal. I can focus on my goal of making critical thinkers graduate into the world. I can focus on their faces when they laugh at that joke I have made semester after semester or the eyes of that one student who finally gets it.

If you have read this far down I thank you for not puking all over your monitor at me and I hope that you find your teaching to be just as emotionally rewarding as I do.

Live Long and Prosper.

Featured Image by Heilig

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JoDee is an adjunct faculty instructor of astronomy and physics at various colleges around her hometown in the midwest. When she is not trying to get her cat, Pixel, off of her laptop she is observing variable stars and researching black holes.

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