Friday, April 20, 2007

On Loving Students and Other Friday Night Ponderings

So tonight I received an award from my absolute favorite student that I've had this year. Yes, I have many bright and favorite students, but this student was in my freshmen class in the fall, and I have a special spot in my heart for any student that I have in that class, and she followed me to my intro to lit class this spring. She is bright and funny and thoughtful, and I wish she'd be an English major, quite honestly, because she's just... fantastic, and I'd love for her to keep in touch, and if they don't change their major, they often don't. Of course, this isn't a reason to advise them in this direction, so I don't, but I'll miss her if I don't hear from her after this year.

This award means so much to me, not only because it is from her (obviously) but because it is part of an award structure that is totally student driven. Basically, my university has a group of high-achieving students that give campus tours, do community service activities, are very involved with all aspects of what we do at our university. Each year, they have a banquet, and these students choose to honor faculty and staff who have influenced them and who have meant something to them during that academic year (and during their college careers, if they are graduating seniors). I feel so incredibly honored that this student picked me for this award. I feel so incredibly honored to be acknowledged as making a difference here.

And I know this sounds all pollyanna and stuff, but I suppose the thing is that in the past few weeks, now that I'm off of the job search roller coaster, now that I'm done with the book stuff (for the time being), I've been thinking a lot about this job and whether I do, in fact, want to stay. The fact of the matter is, I really do love this place. I love my students. I love my colleagues. I love the freedom that I have here, and I love the opportunities that this place gives me. This isn't to say I'll never apply for another job. But I think my reasons for doing so now would be different from my reasons for doing so this past year. This past year, I was trying to prove something to myself. And even though the result wasn't the desired one - a job offer - I did prove something to myself. If I were to apply now, it wouldn't be about that. It would be about personal life stuff, and not about raising my position in the food chain. The bottom line is that I don't care in a specific way about the food chain. I'm productive here. I do good work here. I do not need to be at a "better" institution to do my work, and, in fact, this is a "better" institution than many - even ones that are higher ranked. I like where I work. I like my students. I have hope for this place. And the bottom line is that I think the only reason I'd be willing to leave all that is if I thought doing so would produce a dramatic improvement in my overall quality of life - not just my professional quality of life. So it will be interesting to see what's advertised next year, and it will be interesting to see what I do with that information.

The other reason that this award is so... gratifying... is that the university president was at the banquet, as were other VIPs, and I was so grateful to my student for choosing me in part because this is a pretty selective sort of award and I know that it's good for my future here that I've been recognized as a junior faculty member in front of the VIPs in this way. This means (I feel like) that I'm not an idiot for hoping that if I stay here I may have a hope of getting the big award for junior faculty that is awarded in one's tenure year for achievement over the tenure-track. I've got to say, I want that award. A thing about me is this: I'm not particularly competitive, but I LOVE recognition.

Ok, enough for now. But that's how I'm feeling on this second-to-last-Friday of the semester. I'm feeling really fucking good.

4 comments:

AAYOR said...

awesome.

Juno Walker said...

Crazy -

I'm glad you're feeling really fucking good. Recognition is nice, and it adds to one's sense of validation. Don't tell me we don't need validation. Everyone craves it, to some extent. I'm glad you received some :)

I'm feeling really fucking good, too, but that may have more to do with the bottle of Cotes du Rhone Villages I've had tonight :-P

Juno

saxifraga said...

Congrats on the award. What a cool appreciation of what you do. Your thoughts about going on the job market and your reasons to do so totally resonates with me. I'm so confused about this do I really want another job because I want change or do I just want to prove to someone that I can do it. Sounds like you have gotten a lot out of your time on the market this year.

Life&Times said...

Congratulations! I think it must be especially rewarding to be recognized by students-- who don't actually *have* to think about any of us after they leave the classroom (unlike our peers who have to think about us all the time for various reasons).