I got an email a few days ago from a friend who recommended me for a teaching job at a local college. I don’t have a lot of the details yet, but the position involves teaching courses within Adobe’s design suite, which is right up my alley. The idea of teaching got me excited, because I really enjoy it, and it’s something I’ve been thinking about doing (without actually knowing how to go about it) for a long time.
I got a taste for it back in 1999 when I was working for a web development shop and we were finishing up a custom-built content management system for a local weekly magazine, which had no previous presence on the web. After I’d designed and built the front end for the website, I realized we were going to need to train the print-based staff how to move their workflow to the web. I spent a long week organizing, designing and building an interactive training course for the staff, including some of the first rudimentary programming I’d ever done.
After I got it finished, I showed it to my bosses and they nodded their heads blankly. I found out at that point there was no plan in place for setting up the training courses—they hadn’t set aside a room, I had no provision for computers, and we didn’t even have enough tables.
Working quickly, I scrounged up eight Macs (their production workflow was Mac-based), a conference room, a crateful of keyboards, mice, and network cables, and put together a networked classroom in one afternoon. My company hadn’t made provisions for food, so I organized morning coffee and snacks, as well as lunch deliveries for the break.
The training course itself went off without a hitch—after all that preparation I was feeling very confident, and after jitters at the beginnning my delivery smoothed out and my breathing returned to normal. The staff was trained properly, and they still use the CMS we built to this day.
Fast forward eight (!?!!) years to this email: I knew I had a good copy of the training course archived somewhere, so I went back through my disc catalog to find the best copy and spent a half-hour cleaning up the pages and relinking the scripts on my webserver. I was, and still am, proud of that course, because I put the entire thing together myself, and used the experience to get over my fear of speaking and teaching in front of a group. I found, as the days went on, that I actually liked it, and that I had a talent for finding different ways to explain a concept until everyone understood it.
This experience made it easier to agree to teach a flex design class at MICA a few years ago, which went off pretty well as far as I could tell. While I had some problems feeling qualified to teach a design class while I was employed as an artist at a videogame developer, I felt good about the design problem I created and better about some of the solutions the students came up with.
I followed up with the contact yesterday, linking to the class pages and my resume, and crossed my fingers. This morning I got a very positive response and an invitation to the senior thesis opening where I’ll be able to meet the contact face to face. While I’m told the money isn’t huge (but, then, when did anyone ever get rich as a teacher?) I’m excited to dip my feet back in the water—I’m looking forward to widening my horizons.