Friday, August 14, 2009

Settling Into Who I am Now

Laura Blankenship, originally uploaded by Gardo.

The picture here is from a little over a year ago at Faculty Academy 2008. It's one of my favorites despite the fact that my hair is askew (it's always askew it seems) because I think it captures a certain image I have of myself. There's the ever-present computer, the look of concern/passion (captured in several photos of me), and the fact that I'm obviously mid-sentence.

Just a few months ago, I was at Faculty Academy 2009, my third FA, and I was delighted to be there, but I was feeling a little unsettled. I'd just finished teaching and was looking ahead to being "just a consultant" instead of a part-time teacher and a part-time consultant. It felt a little daunting. I felt unidentifiable. The only other time I've felt this unsettled was right after we moved to Arkansas and I was a stay at home mom. I attended my 10 year high school reunion and I wasn't sure how to identify myself and what I did. It felt really odd to say I was staying at home because it didn't jibe with my image of myself as a career woman. Now, I have no hesitation saying that part of what I'm doing is managing the home front.

I still consider myself a teacher in addition to my roles as a consultant and a mother. I hope to always have a foot in the classroom by teaching a class at least once a year, but I also see the role I play as a consultant as being primarily about teaching, about helping people learn something new, learn to navigate an ever-changing technology landscape. I think it's just in my blood.

I feel a certain sense now of knowing what I'm doing without knowing everything about what I'm doing and being okay with that. Consultant work has slowed down a bit, but I feel confident it will pick up with the school year, the economy, and continued effort on my part. I still keep an eye out for interesting teaching possibilities or jobs in the education technology sector. In the ed tech world, most of what I've seen is about tech support, not teaching, which is, I think, the direction many of the jobs, outside of directorships, are going. In part, I think this is because there are more faculty using technology in interesting and pedagogically sound ways and they are taking the role of sharing that knowledge with colleagues, a role formerly played by Instructional Technologists. And this is a good thing overall. But it means that that kind of job is a job that doesn't quite offer someone like me the combination of skills and opportunities that's appealing. So I've created that for myself. And while I felt tentative about it at first, it feels more right every day.