I am now starting my second year of teaching. With this, it is good to reflect on how my preconceived notions of the academic life matched with the realities of being a professor. The picture of success is the reason to start. In this three-part article, I share the lessons I have earned from the experience.
Part One is about the background of my teaching application and my hopes before embarking on the teaching journey. Some parts were derived from a previous post on Hubpages.
Why Did I Enter the Academe?
It was mid-March 2017 when I saw the advertisement. My home department called for applications for a full-time faculty member. I had a pending application for a consulting firm then for a project that was not really my expertise, but I felt more excited towards a future of me as a professor. I chose to retract my application for the consulting firm and submitted a rapidly prepared application to the department. I had to undergo a three-month application and approval period before people addressed me as an assistant professor.
If you asked me in my teenage years if I wanted to be a teacher, I will certainly laugh at you. I have seen and involved myself on various pranks for teachers. I know I do not want to be the focus of these things. In college, classmates have often told me that I am fit to be a teacher. I have often shut the idea down: I know teaching is not a profitable occupation and I was dreaming of owning a car two years after college.
After handling around 175 students in eight different classes, I evaluate how my hopes towards becoming a university professor were realized. I want to make this public to encourage professors to reflect on their careers periodically. Reflecting on our teaching strategies will result to better classroom management and day-to-day experiences.
As I weighed the decision to pursue my application, I read an article narrating the top stresses of being a university professor. The issues detailed involved struggles towards university politics, salary, and research woes. Ten reasons were enumerated which would have been more than enough for me to withdraw from the pursuit and find another job opportunity.
But, I cannot: I wanted to continue. I wanted to know if I am qualified to become a mentor in a premier university. I believe that I must become a professor: I must heed the call of academia. I must try if this career of teaching, research, extension and service is for me.
Hopes before Beginning
Six years after graduation, I find myself indulged of entering the academic life again, now not as a student, but as a (assistant) professor. As I started my career as a assistant professor, here were reasons I was hopeful.
I am enthusiastic to help students learn learning.
Learning is a natural, lifelong process. We never stop learning, even involuntarily. The classroom is a two-way avenue: I hope to ride on it and meet students halfway. I will learn from my students as they also learn from me. Looking forward, I wait for the day I get to congratulate the first batch of graduates of my class.
I know teaching does not mean knowing it all.
Even the best scientists and philosophers are stumped by life’s greatest questions. Being a mentor, a professor, is simply telling people what you know so they will also know it. One does not need perfect knowledge on any subject.
I love speaking in front of people and telling them what to do.
I believe that I have not experienced stage fright. I also speak better to a crowd than in a one-on-one conversation.
I will be paid to research, publish papers, and attend talks.
Having a job in a premier university is a golden ticket to the best academic talks – within walking distance. When I worked at private companies, I was envious of some friends who got to attend forums and talks because they worked at the university. I will be able to do that now too.
I will be surrounded by the best minds of the country.
Academia feels like home. I have spent more years in school than outside it, so I will be basically at home. Plus, I have the best neighbors: PhD holders, national scientists, published researchers.
Were these hopes realized?
These were my hopes around mid-2017, while waiting for the academic year to start. Part Two details my reflections and primary takeaways from a year of teaching.