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College Teaching Experience Recap

There is a YouTube channel I love to watch, StarrTile. Watching someone who loves what they do never fails to inspire me. He made a comment recently after he was checking out someone else’s intricate bathroom tile job “I can’t wait to try something this complicated in a future project!”

Remember that shit? When we used to love the challenge at work? We wanted to take care of more complicated patients, we wanted to encounter something we didn’t know, and try more complicated surgeries. Shoutout to passion.

My college teaching experience this past semester allowed me to meet other passionate individuals. Teaching always seemed boring to me but it turned out to be the kind of profession where you can get really creative.

In this post I’ll do a brief recap of what it was like teaching at a community college for a semester. Maybe someone will want to pursue teaching as their encore career.

You can read my initial post on this experience after the first 2 weeks of teaching by clicking here.

 

College Teaching Experience

I’ve tried many different things since 2012 when I first decided to get out of medicine – just 3 years after finishing residency. I’ve owned a mechanic shop, I’ve tried writing, real estate investing, stock investing, teaching, and consulting.

Will teaching be my next thing? My encore career? Probably not. But I won’t fully discount it for the future.

The Class

This past Spring 2018 semester I taught Medical Terminology to 25 students. We met 4 hours a week on Fridays and I lectured on 2 different chapters each time. I made weekly quizzes, 2 midterms, and a final exam which the students will take next week.

My workflow each week was to read the chapter in the book, create the PowerPoint for it, add a ton of medical images. Then I would create the quiz and enter the attendance and grades.

Only about 5 students were engaged. The rest showed up because they had to. These brave 5 would exchange emails with me, they’d tell me stories, ask me for advice.

I spent 3-4 hours a week teaching and 4-6 hours a week preparing the lectures and quizzes. If I were to teach this class to another group then I would only have to put in the teaching time because the material remains the same. I have all the Power-Points, videos, quizzes, attendance sheets, and the syllabus all ready to go.

Online Teaching

Online teaching is gaining popularity. Colleges are competing with independent websites such as Treehouse which are circumventing all the bullshit that comes with higher education.

For someone who prefers to not teach in a classroom online teaching might be ideal. I suspect that much like this community college gig the hardest part is getting your foot in the door.

 

The Students

On the last day 3 stayed behind and we shot the shit for an hour after class talking about their upbringing, their obstacles, their lives – it was fascinating.

2 of these students were crack babies, one was 23 and the other 30 years old. The other, a 24 yo who is just getting his life back on track.

The 30 year old woman has a brother serving a 15-year sentence. She’s his only support since her crack mother is now dead from alcohol abuse and he is having major emotional disturbances from incarceration.

She’s a counselor for troubled youth and she’s quite intelligent. We talked about what therapy jobs she wants to pursue in the future. I have a feeling she’ll do well.

The other 23 year old woman was also a crack baby who also has a brother in jail. She is white with a black brother from another father while her blood brother is a skinhead – what a clash.

She’s on her way to becoming a firefighter and doing great. She rocks the exams and asks solid questions during class.

Finally, my favorite dude is this 24 year old guy who was sharing his life story with us. From an upper middle class and super religious family, he got hooked on drugs at 14, became homeless and started running drugs across state borders. His stories of escaping the police were jaw-dropping.

He eventually went to jail for a burglary and served 30 days. The judge was lenient because he was white and he had taken some college courses in the past.

At the time of the burglary he was having a psychotic episode because of his extensive drug use. After jail he got his shit together and quit all drugs and alcohol. He started writing poetry and has a book published on Amazon. He recited some to us – fuck me, they were so good.

 

The Pay

I got paid $60/hour for the 4 hours I lectured each Friday. After taxes, I was left with around $430 every 2 weeks or $860/month.

For this part-time gig I also received health insurance, 401k benefits, and a ton of access to the community college resources. The perks of being faculty are amazing.

Faculty also gets college credits to take courses for free. We get to sit on any committees we’re interested in and even come up with our own classes and curricula. We get access to their high-tech computer labs and the college gym as well as their health center.

There was always opportunity for extra pay. $150 here, $50 there. Some of these were for participating on certain panels or reviewing books for the library.

 

My Colleagues

The most friendly and warm group of people I’ve met in a long time were these teacher colleagues. They were genuinely involved in teaching, they worked hard for the students, and put a lot of effort into the curriculum.

My program director was a pharmacist herself back in the day and she did a wonderful job with providing me with guidance. She let me borrow her old exams and lectures and she was always available to me.

As for the support you get as faculty, it’s unbeatable. I can reach out to the Audio-Visual team or the tutoring team anytime I need assistance. They bent over backwards to help me out. If a student needed resources then I could refer them to various counselors and a student help team.

every Friday before class started, I would stand outside of the classroom with the students and wait for the other professor, Paul, to finish his public speaking class. I ran into him once at the college cafe and we started talking about teaching. It was so interesting to learn how he engaged his students, taught them computer skills by bringing laptops to the class, and how involved he was in his office hours.

Paul’s passion was obvious but his work wasn’t easy. He left me that day with his phone number and these parting words, “We should get together and talk more shop, I love this stuff.”

 

The Bad

Nothing bad stands out about my college teaching experience. If I had to dig down deep then I would critique the following things.

The majority of the students won’t be engaged. If you’re pursuing college teaching in hopes of bright eyes staring back at you, forget about it. Some students will email a lot, miss class, forget to take quizzes on time, etc. A little babysitting is expected and it wasn’t too intrusive.

Learning the software, D2L, which is used to administer tests and post lecture notes, took a few weeks – very steep. But it’s really well-designed for how much it can accomplish.

Being a good teacher was tougher than I thought. Figuring out the right pace, the right tone, the right amount of feedback without handholding – it’s a work in progress.

My commute was 50 minutes each way by bus. I could have biked it but didn’t want to lecture for 4 hours with a sweaty ass crack. On the commute I got to catch up on new podcasts and a few audiobooks.

My exhaustion level after 4 hours of teaching was unreal. Fucking Chronic Fatigue Syndrome type of shit. I would get home and then just flop down in front of the laptop and read blogs or watch some YouTube – there was nothing else I could do. It got a lot better the longer I did it. Maybe it’s just a matter of getting used to it.

 

2 replies on “College Teaching Experience Recap”

Wow, so much of this is awesome. I miss being around colleagues who are excited about what they are doing. I’m sure it would be easy to become frustrated with the unengaged students, but sounds like you are not letting it bother you.

I bet if I got to know them a little better then I could get them to engage a little more. They mostly seemed shy. And of course as soon as I did the lectures for the midterm and finals review, they all perked up – hilarious. These other teachers though – man – for real, they loved their work. Like you said, it’s really nice to be around that. We’ll see if in the future I might circle back to this. Feel like it’s something that I have under my belt now so I’ll always have a way to get back in.

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