The weekend winds down, and I begin to wind myself up for the week ahead. I accomplished a great deal this weekend, including having a nice nap each day in the hammock. Time well spent.
This week marks the end of my current teaching career. I must say, no matter how much I love my students---and I do---it will be a sweet relief to no longer have exams, lectures, overheads, power-points, and other detritus to deal with all year. I truly love the act of teaching---the moments of laughter, of watching a student "get" something crucial, the crystallizing ideas coalescing in understanding and synthesis---it is very gratifying. But on top of a full-time job that demands such energy and commitment, teaching has been a psychic burden which I am ready to shed.
Beyond the mechanics of teaching, and the preparation and responsibility involved, I have always found nursing school to be somewhat deadening. The rote memorization, the need to teach towards the licensing exam---it all makes the process less alive for me. Grading students on their performance on multiple-choice tests is a frustrating but necessary evil which sometimes precludes the desire to spend time delving deeper into issues which cannot be addressed on such standardized exams.
In my teaching, I try to impart my excitement, my fascination, my sense of justice and socioeconomic equality, my commitment. I try to use stories, scenarios, and anecdotes to illustrate the reality of patient-provider interactions and the mystery and subtlety of such relationships. Sadly, the reams of information needing to be reviewed and lectured upon often precludes such non-linear teaching, keeping us information-oriented, away from the realm of feelings and relationships. This is a hole in nursing education, and area which I think is often overlooked in the interest of the "harder" scientific aspects of nursing.
I will honestly miss teaching, but I'll be sure to find opportunities for teaching which do not necessitate my standing in a classroom and talking until my throat is hoarse. In my mind, there are many changes needed in nursing education which I will not address in this forum, but I recognize that there are areas sorely lacking and in need of attention, especially on the comunity college level. Some day, perhaps, as a retired nurse, I'll return to academia and give it my all, acting as a change agent to reinvigorate the education of nurses. For now, I will gracefully bow out of that world, and leave the teaching to others more comfortable with the process than me.