Just before the fall semester in 2022, I was offered an opportunity to teach my first Sports Writing course at the University of Nebraska — Lincoln. I only had a couple of weeks to prepare for the semester ahead — and was doing so knowing I’d miss the first week while in Ireland — but I enthusiastically said yes to the chance to teach.
People had gently informed me about the time it would take to grade 15-20 papers nearly every week. They told me about expectations and how to manage them, and how to not put too much pressure on myself to be perfect.
All of their words of advice were true and more. Teaching is the greatest mirror I could have ever stand in front of.
The reality is that I have been tasked with managing a room of students and guiding them on their journeys. I have many goals for them, but my primary goal is simple: that they leave my classroom with more knowledge than they entered it with. While simple, that is also a surprisingly tall task.
In fact, a student recently pointed out a quiz question that I had written was wrong. It was a humbling experience, but also an exciting one. I hate that I had tested them on incorrect information, but I was also thrilled to see them thinking and challenging what was placed in front of them.
I remember what it was like to be in their shoes. They have a million things going on that they are trying to balance. My class is just a small part of all of that for them, so I try to remember that.
I would be lying if I said it wasn’t hard though.
I question myself a lot. I beat myself up over the little things and stress about the facial expressions. I worry when a student stops showing up for a period of time, because I’m selfishly concerned it’s because I’m bad at this whole lecturer thing.
I try to be fair. I try to be balanced. I try to make things fun — we talked about Taylor Swift and the PR of it all in my class this week — while also giving them a lot to write about (because it is Sports Writing, let’s be realistic here).
I care so much because I like doing this so much. If I ever wanted to go full-time with it (or more full-time-ish, I guess), I’d have to get my Master’s Degree. Maybe I’ll do that eventually because I truly enjoy spending time with students and helping them along.
It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it. And I always hope the students that come through my classroom know how much I care and how it’s because of them that I’m becoming a better teacher and lecturer with every class I teach.
Amazing how that works, huh?
And if you’ve gotten this far and you’re asking yourself what the point of all this was . . . Well, I’m not sure. I have this blog and I tell myself to use it but never do. I think I’m going to stop waiting for the perfect topic or format or whatever, and instead just write about what’s on my mind at the moment.
Today, it was about life as a lecturer. I suppose I should get back to grading those papers though.