Reflection: Varient Paths

We tend to have plans for our lives---that is, when we imagine what life will look like, we have a clear picture. I know I did when I decided to go back to college to teach English & literature. I had a well-defined picture in my mind of what the student environment looked like, what I would teach, the engaging discussions we would have, and even down to what my lesson plans would look like. Then COVID hit and college classes looked VERY different. There were not as many students, which resulted in not as many prospects for a new adjunct instructor/professor.

Then I was given the opportunity to teach a group of non-traditional students, in a VERY non-traditional setting—a distance learning World Literature class for two correctional facilities. I thought what the heck, a student is a student no matter where they reside and no matter what path their lives had taken them. However, the whole distance learningthing was a conundrum—no physical lectures due to COVID. So, this left me with recording lectures to DVD (THAT was an interesting feat to make sure they could be played on the devices at each place), no texts books (locating texts that were open access), and handwritten assignments via mail. Some assignments were scanned, and I needed to figure out how to grade without having to do multiple printing and scanning of individual assignments over the semester. This was nothing I had ever been part of nor seen before. I certainly hand not been trained to do this kind of delivery--but again what the heck I decided I can DO this.

We just completed the semester and quite honestly, this was the most rewarding experience I’ve had in teaching or training. Some brought tears to my eyes. The students were motivated, engaged, and intelligent. Some of their writings and thought processes equaled that of grad school students. I am very thankful for this path that I had not seen coming. I believe it made me a better instructor/professor and a better person.

I share this to encourage you…take the opportunities that are presented to you…even IF they don’t fit the picture that you have in your mind. Jump in with an open mind and leave behind the expectations and binding to what your imagined path looked like. Sometimes we need to let go of that picture in order to receive the priceless art that is deemed especially for us. Sometimes the gifts of another path, though are not of our own design, can be the most rewarding.

Avie Layne 2012