"And the next time I teach this course, I'd like to..." was the phrase that clinched it for me. I realized when I heard myself speaking those words that I want a next time...I want to teach this class again...this is where I want to be. It took both that defining moment and every bit of resolve I have to turn down the non-teaching role I was offered last week. To look a person I admire in the eye and say that I'd rather be in the classroom than in the role being offered.
Conventional wisdom says that we advance in our chosen professions, that we take the next step up the ladder, that we move, ultimately, into management. I've taken those steps before--sometimes choosing wisely; other times not--and I am honored (and not a little surprised) to be given another opportunity. But if I have a calling, it is to lead within the classroom, rather than without. It's not a perfect job and there are days when I question not only why I do it, but also whether I am remotely competent. The answers to both why and whether are seeing a student have his "aha" moment or hearing a student say she's thought about something in a completely new light. And one of the greatest joys is reading what students are capable of writing, especially when they given room to find a voice--their own.The one they lost in some academic desert.
It was hard for me to hear that my "no" was a disappointment to that person I admire. It would have been far harder for me to walk away from the classroom. And the next time I teach this course, I'd like to remember this moment.