long as a human being lives he will learn."
not to become a man of success but rather become a man of value."
I confess I've always wondered if I might have achieved a better balance between professional and personal life while still in my twenties and thirties had my father or mother been a teacher or professor. Growing up in a working class neighborhood, I never witnessed the private life of an academic or college educated professional. I had no idea what the job entailed once you left the classroom. I pictured a life with periods for reflection, leisurely lunches with interesting and soft spoken colleagues, a large office with a big window, capable students who would ask thoughtful questions and write readable and interesting papers, and secretarial support like that I'd observed in my private graduate school.
I, like many of the new faculty we welcome to our colleges today, was seriously underprepared for the life I would lead.
Working in a college involves so much more than just giving a lecture and grading a few papers. It is a job that can give one's life great meaning. It involves setting an example, inspiring students, and offering meaningful lessons. To do this with grace and enthusiasm requires balancing personal desires and professional needs, keeping one's self in the best physical, mental and fiscal health possible. And, when life throws the inevitable curve balls, being able to adapt is also a requirement. Adaptation might be figuring out how to be an energetic physical presence in the classroom despite the handicaps of aging or accident. It might include spending a few extra nights and weekends studying a computer program and thinking about its application for your field. It might mean giving up every summer and a couple nights a week to work overtime so you can afford your own child's college education. Or, it could require giving up a few extra purchases because teaching that one extra overload means you won't be able to give quality attention to all your students or to your friends or family.
We invite you to think about surviving the journey with us as you read this lesson. If you are an excited and energized new faculty member, the section on burnout, for example, may seem irrelevant. Professional development might seem like encouragement to finish that Ph.D, but it can be so very much more. In short, our goal in this lesson is not merely to speak to your needs today, but also to plant useful seeds that you can harvest in the years to come.
- by Kristina Kauffman