Saturday, March 6, 2010

Teaching Again

After a fifteen year hiatus, I've started teaching again. Early in my career, I taught both as a college level adjunct instructor and a high school teacher. At the time, I was just trying to find a way to make a living. Leaving Boston College with a Master's in English literature and little work experience, I was unsure how I would make my way in the world; I imagine there were many in my circle of friends and family who had the same thought. And so I turned to teaching and writing for my bread, which for me was like trying to make wine from immature grapes.

I struggled (which might not be a surprise for anyone who has faced 125 students a day) and after two years, I left teaching for a new career in computer programming. That change was like a shift to tobacco from cotton for me and it proved a much easier crop to grow, harvest and market. Though less satisfying, it was (and is) a good way to make my way in the world.

"But Mista Sexton...," I can hear my class still say in my mind, "Didn't you like our class ... why, Mista Sexton? Why?"

I still see their faces. For those short years, they were all very important to me. I cried over every bad day and floated on air when I made progress. It was a wrench to leave and it's felt like unfinished business for the many years since.

So now I'm teaching at a local community college again; instructing in the basics of reading and writing to older students. Maybe it's the simple passing of time that's made me more ready to ply this trade, or maybe it's the relief of knowing that my income does not depend on my success that has freed me somehow, but I'm far more confident than I remember being as a young man. I hope the students I have now will agree.

But if I really had to guess what's bringing this growth out in me now, I'd have to say it was the influence of my son. Watching him adapt and flower the way that he has; standing witness to his natural resolve and determination to fit into the world has made me less timid. It's reminded me that I am adaptable too - that I can change; even now - as a mature man.

I hand out our mid term test next Saturday. I know somehow, that after those test papers pile up quietly on my desk that day, this small shore excursion will pass the last buoy and venture out into the open waters; the sun will dip below the horizon and the stars will wheel above my little craft; and I'll be out on the open ocean again. This time I hope to make a fair journey of it. I hope to make the sea my home.

Good night.


Anonymous said...

This is so exciting Dave! Are you teaching on weekends/nights now? But you're considering moving into it full time?

Are your students adults?

It's wonderful that your son's experiences have opened up what is possible for you as well. Cheers, Louise (from BLOOM, I'm not logged in)

David Sexton said...

Hi Louise,
I'm teaching Saturday for now - the students range from 18 to 46. I'm enjoying it very much, so I think I'll branch out a bit as time allows. I would like to teach again full time. I think I'll be more ready for it now, but it may take a bit to figure out how to make that happen. Till then, I'll just keep my hand in it.

Hope you are well.