Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862)
It finally stopped raining, and the sun will come out today, bringing the warmth of spring. On my way to work this morning, I noticed the bright yellow daffodils, and the deep purple crocuses. It is a fresh new day.
In accordance with the Japanese academic calendar, I am preparing to teach a new course that begins next week, another fresh start. The thing I love about teaching is the cycles. The course ends, and the work is complete. The course begins: a new slate. It is very satisfying. Teaching feels very organic. When I am in the classroom,I respond to the things around me: the questions students ask, the material we are working on, the wonder of the ladybug that crawls across the chalkboard. My stress is around getting grades in on time, and my success is measured by the lessons my students have learned, demonstrated as I correct their final papers.
The rhythm of my role as an administrator is dictated by a fiscal year calendar. The stress comes from the pressures to meet revenue and enrollment targets. In September, we are planning for July. In July, we are thinking about January. In January, we are anticipating September. My thoughts are always in the wrong season. Some projects have no end. Administration can also be satisfying, but the pleasure of seeing a successful program is so delayed that by the time the students arrive, their programs are set up, and I have moved on to the next task.
Like the ladybug crawling across the chalkboard, there are always surprises. We make three-year and five-year plans, never really knowing what will happen. In international education, you can never predict Swine-flu, a global financial crisis, or 9-11. We plan now for what we think will happen then, always tweaking along the way.
On my way to work this morning, I stopped to buy some things to prepare for my new class. Influenced by the spring, I bought a purple folder, to remind me of the crocuses, and a yellow folder, the color of the daffodils. I am looking forward to meeting my new students next week.