I've followed a specific pattern this year: I work on comps reading. I start slowing down, and get discouraged. I start questioning why I'm doing this whole nonsense anyway. Then, I get some sort of reminder of how much I love either teaching or my research, and get re-inspired. (And then I work on comps reading again.)
Today was one of those re-inspiration days, and today teaching did it. I went to a fantastic workshop about teaching dossiers, oddly enough. The speaker was phenomenal. I have no idea how we managed to lure this faculty member away from the big universities where she used to work.
Part of what inspired me was that she really worked with us to identify our teaching philosophies and our ideals. And that's right down my alley, because I'm more than a bit of an idealist, especially when it comes to my teaching. I had this strange moment where I articulated for the group the ground rules that I set for my seminar groups: that in this space, we are all historians, and here is a list of all the ways in which we are learning how to think and act as historians. Everyone else got really excited about the ideas that I articulated, and it sparked this amazing discussion about how we need to teach students how to think as historians. It was so strange, because this has been something that I thought was really basic and commonsense, and here were faculty members acting like I'd said something innovative. (Of course that helped my ego a bit.)
The other part that inspired me was that she showed us some sample dossiers from professors that she's helped. These were all psychologists, and I think these were all professors who were up for teaching awards. But wow. Seriously, every single one of these people has done such amazing work with their teaching that I was at once overwhelmed by my own inadequacy.
Oh, right. I love teaching. And this comps reading is giving me the knowledge base that I need so that I can teach.
Unrelated link, mostly for the benefit of Ky, who really must see these pictures: I am very proud to say that this little girl is a distant relative of mine.