To say that I’ve spent the past 15 years teaching at the college level doesn’t give a clear picture of what I do. As a college instructor and professor, I’ve focused on general education writing and literature courses; what I really do, therefore, is teach my students how to engage critically with the world around them. I spent a lot of time asking questions–how do you know this? where did you find that information? what does it mean when you say that?–and a lot of time giving feedback to students as they translate what’s in their heads into something that others will understand when it’s written out on the page. I’m a questioner, a reader, and a mirror for my students, helping them to ensure that their readers see what they, the writer, want the readers to see.
This is my guiding philosophy in my non-academic editorial work as well. For most projects, I’m less interested in grammar rules than in making the writing match the client’s vision. I love editing, and find it to be rewarding for a number of reasons, ranging from the fact that I don’t have to actually grade my clients’ work as I edit, to the wide range of projects I get, which gives me the opportunity to learn new things.
This love of learning also informs my work as an instructional designer, where it translates to a willingness to try new teaching strategies and tech, even when I’m apprehensive about a new approach. As long as the rationale underpinning the approach seems sound, I’ll try out innovative techniques with enthusiasm, actively looking for ways to integrated them with course objectives and activities.
Though I’ve spent most of my life in academia, I do not know if I will continue teaching until retirement, and I have considered a range of alternative careers, from full time independent editor, to instructional designer, to writer. I would LOVE to move into game editing and writing, particularly editing for either tabletop or video role playing games, work which ties into both my academic background working on game narrative and medievalism and into my long experience as a gamer.
My more realistic alternative career, however, is academic instructional design, which would let me integrate my 15 years’ experience teaching at the college level with my interest in new media and innovative teaching strategies. I find instructional design theory fascinating, in general, and am particularly interested in how to transition good theoretical work into practical applications for teaching in blended and fully online classrooms. Sometimes strategies that look great in the planning phase don’t work out in the classroom, and I love trouble-shooting those gaps to make the instructional dreams into reality.
Where I’ll land isn’t yet clear, but I know that it will be work that requires:
- critical thinking
- writing and editing
- approaching problems creatively
- working both independently and collaborating with a team
I hope it will also require:
- more frequent opportunities to use multimedia software
- the time to learn new technology
- using and improving the languages I already know (French and German and a little Swedish), as well as learning a few more
- learning new fields beyond the history, literature, music, and writing in which I’m already trained
- a little travel now and then
- working with innovative, creative people