The world of academia is as weird as it is wonderful.  I’ve certainly had my share of interesting jobs over the years, but I’ve never been through a process remotely akin to what I’m currently experiencing.  This semester I’m up for mid-tenure review.  This basically means a group of colleagues will evaluate the work I’ve done in the past two and a half years. At this stage in the game, I must articulate my teaching philosophy, detail my professional development, and summarize my scholarly accomplishments in narrative form.   Then I fill a giant notebook with evidence supporting all the things I had to say about myself and I’ll set goals laying out all I wish to accomplish in the next two and a half years when I have to go through this whole process again.  At that point the folks I work with will decide if I they want me to stick around for the rest of my life or if I’m fired. 

Does all that sound weird to you?  It does to me.  But that’s pretty much how it all works.

As a result, I’ve spent a great deal of time lately sitting around contemplating the complicated task of teaching and the messiness of learning.  Quite honestly, I have had no great revelations.  Teaching still seems like the great three-ringed circus it was when I first started.  In this ring, we have a clown juggling individual students’ needs with the needs of the class and the needs of their clients who they will be serving in the future. Step right up to see the enchantress magically transforming information into knowledge. Witness the aerialist performing anxiety-provoking feats as she walks a tightrope stretched between turbulence and order.  Here come the acrobats alternating between collaboration and autonomy as they balance on horseback in an act combining strength, flexibility, and perseverance.

 Did I have a hand in creating this or am I simply just a part of the show?

Maybe a bit of both, who knows.  At least it will be interesting to see what happens next.