Today I finished my thirteenth week of a total six-hour-long teaching day. A thought came across my mind. Wow, four weeks later and I’d be done with the people I’d spend the last four months with.
I thought I’d feel relieved. To some extent, I am. Six-hours teaching means times 2 to prepare. Sometimes more. It was eating up my writing time. But then, be grateful that you have a paying job to support your passion.
But something happened between me and my students over the course of the last month. I care about them, their success, their concerns. I want them to succeed in school, in life, in the future. I can almost see myself fighting back tears when I part ways with my students at the end of June.
My students. They are mine. For a while. For now. How crazy was it that I invited my morning elective class to do a ten-minutes meditation with me today. I didn’t know if they actually did it with me. But they didn’t have their phones to play with either. (*I made sure I took care of it.) At some point, I felt that my students must think their teacher is going loco. Well, whatever. It’s the right thing to do to introduce to them some tools to cope with life. They can take it or leave it.
Then they wrote their future dreams down on paper, folded them and put them into a bag. From the bag, I took a piece and read every of those dreams out loud, with care. We clap every time we hear a dream being uttered through me. Making lots lots of money was the most popular dream, of course. I didn’t ask them to change, but I had to urge them to consider: when you have enough money, then what? Retire?
I haven’t quite figured that one out either. Dreaming versus Living. A fulfilled mind versus a loaded purse. Personally, I wish the teaching environment in this college to be less hostile to adjunct as well as to its students. By hostile to adjunct, I mean mostly, pecuniary. But isn’t it the same everywhere else?
The answer in my own experience is not quite. The institute I am going to audition (now scheduled on Thursday) has a far better policy — equal pay to Chinese and Laowai (non-Chinese). I worked my ass off to prepare for this audition lecture. I want this gig real bad. I will nail it. Once I do, I’ll start teaching there in the fall with a reasonable salary plus 40% of my current workload. The class is 1/3 the size of my current one, which means I could develop deeper connection with all the ten students.
Of course, I care about my current students. But I have to practise self-care and self-love in this case. It’s difficult but absolutely necessary.
“I want you to take what I’ve taught you in this class and apply it to your later career, whether it’s film-related or not.” I heard myself saying to my evening class as I closed for the day, “Don’t write for anybody. Write for yourself. Don’t just write every other day. Write every day. For yourself.”
Before they exited the room, they clapped. I blushed.