My last exam was Wednesday and once I post grades, my stint as Adjunct Professor will come to a, hopefully temporary, end. *sigh*
Recap: I've been teaching Drawing and Advanced Illustration at the University of Georgia (my alma mater) this semester, filling in for a Professor on medical leave (he's fine now). I was hired by my old Graphics Professor who is now the head of the department. Can you say "HONORED"? Woosie!
Of course, that meant every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I awoke at 5:00 am and drove to Athens (a 1 1/2 hour commute) for my 8:00 am class (second was at 10:00). And no, that part was not fun (especially on top of the wild book signing tour for The 12 Days of Christmas in Georgia). But hey, I somehow remained standing (and healthy) through it all, and there were the sunrises - the gorgeous, stunning sunrises. Ahhhh.
And man, I LOVED the teaching.
Teaching is like a constantly changing puzzle. With every student, every brain, every project, I had to figure out how best to relay the information needed by that particular person in a way they could best understand and absorb it. It lights up the synapses to be challenged like that for four hours a day, I tell ya!
But as much as I taught, I learned as well. First, college students are not quite adults yet, even though they look the part. That presented some unexpected challenges, but it also made my Mama Bear traits pop up. These became MY kids (as much as the thought might horrify them to be called that.)
I was rooting for every one of them, even as I struggled and argued with them. I was so proud when they shone and I was frustrated right alongside them when they had trouble.
And they were inspiring. When I pulled out old art supplies and let them play it was so exciting to watch them experience the media in new ways, and sometimes for the first time. I just backed away smiling and watched their wheels turning. But it also made me want to experiment more - I had forgotten how cool some of those old methods could be!
They also brought their own inspirations into play. I learned about illustrators I'd never heard of and design trends that weren't on my radar but are way fresh and exciting.
In the end, my students did some AMAZING pieces and I was so proud and honored to work with them. After all, these students were hand picked out of some serious competition to be part of the Graphic Design program. (In my day, about a dozen would be chosen out of 70 applicants and I think the numbers are still about the same.) So, expectations were high - but boy, did they live up to them...
So today, I'm unpacking my messenger bag, filing away the paperwork, downloading the images and getting everything straight. I can see the floor of my office once more (it was hiding for a while). And it turns out, yes, indeed there was a desk under all those papers. With every thing I put away I get a satisfying sense of closure... and I feel a pang. I really do love to teach and I will miss it.
So many people played the role of stepping stones along the path which has become my journey, and it's strangely satisfying to know that I can play that role for somebody else. I expect great things out of the students I taught - I just hope the world is ready for them, and kind to them...
Because the world doesn't need to be making this Mama Bear upset - she's feeling a bit protective!