Secret Life on the Academic Scrapheap

Teaching with intense anxiety is not fun. Co- teaching makes it worse. Especially when I know that I am on the academic scrap heap, that my teaching skills are not good enough in the first place.

I watch my co -teacher; his expert performance, conscious that I am doing nothing useful. Then, falteringly, I talk to my slides; catch the eye of a student who looks bored beyond words with what I am saying. Wish I could make this more interesting. Too late now. Should have worked harder at the slides. Watch the steady stream of questions heading in his direction. His slides must have given them more to engage with, think about. I don’t deserve to be teaching.

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Later in the week, the fact that I am not wanted becomes very apparent. I arrive to find a PhD student taking my class. Ring the office to work out where I should be. But the simple answer is nowhere. I haven’t made a mistake. And, the computer system algorithm can’t possibly make that error either. I wonder if it was a deliberate act on the secretary’s part. If I am that much hated. It’s possible. I try to explain to him, in words, why that was a difficult situation for me to be in. Why it has fazed me. But, he says, I dealt with it professionally. So why does it matter? Wrong again.

I fear how I am perceived by the students. And I fear how unwilling staff are to cooperate with me. I remember how ready they were to let me go; the switch from six months earlier, ‘we’d have to be really silly not to find a good excuse to keep you’. It feels like no one, student or staff member, wants me around.

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