Sprinting for the Finish Line

It’s official. After more than thirty years in academia, I’m retiring at the end of the year. The paperwork was signed, sealed, and delivered earlier this month. Now I’m sprinting for the finish line.

The original plan was to keep working for at least three more years. I agreed a while back to teach two classes a semester for two years starting this fall. For Fall 2022, I’d cut back to one class and decide if I wanted to keep teaching or retire. I told my boss as long as I was having fun, I’d stay.

Lord knows I try, but planning never works for me. Time and time again, something blows any plans I’ve ever made out of the water. That’s life and a big message I share with my students. Plan for the life you want, but prepare for the life you get.

My non-teaching duties revolve around outreach. The key to success is networking with partners, collaborators, coworkers around the state and colleagues across the country. Not traveling in recent years because of my vision issues has left me feeling increasingly disconnected. I couldn’t wait to retire.

The opportunity to teach a traditional class for the first time since graduate school changed my mind. Classroom teaching completes me. For evidence, look no further than numerous posts on this blog since my teaching run began several years ago.

I survived — barely — but going online last March sucked all the joy out of teaching. Over the summer I took a course to help faculty pivot again, if necessary. I learned a lot, but believed connecting with more than 180 students via Zoom was impossible.

Intro to Family and Consumer Sciences is a one-credit course required for all majors in the college that I’ve taught once before. With 132 students, this section is also the biggest course I’ve ever taught. Consumers in Society (48 students) is a 3-credit course I’ve been teaching for a while that satisfies part of the university’s social studies requirement.

Going into the first week, I was behind, overwhelmed, and beyond stressed out. A week later, I’m still behind and a little overwhelmed, but things are a bit easier as I’ve finally mastered the technology. Positive feedback from students has definitely helped.

Knowing this is my last semester helps too. Other duties normally on my to-do list this of year relate to things coming up in the next calendar year. Not having to worry about anything after December enables me to focus pretty much all my energy on teaching.

For me, teaching is all-consuming — and that was with one class and my usual 45 to 50 students. Until the middle of October when the larger course ends, I’m going to be crazy busy. December will be here in no time, and then I’ll be footloose and fancy free.

I got this. Might not have time to keep you posted, but I’ll try. Thanks for stopping by!