I really want to teach. From a practical standpoint, even if I get all the grants and all of my papers published, I can only do so much anthropology. If I teach anthropology, and just one half of one percent of my students become anthropologists, I would have more of an impact than just myself and my own work. The reality of being a professor of anthropology is that one has to do both, but my fulcrum would ideally give more room for teaching.
It is really ironic then that I received my Ph.D. having had no official teaching experience. As an MA student I was in charge of the (now closed) anthropology library in the department, which counted as a research position. I entered the doctoral program as the second anthropology recipient of the university’s Life Sciences Fellowship. Geared towards the lab sciences, they gave me a stipend on the condition that I specifically cannot have a teaching position. Knowing that teaching is what I wanted to do, I had some reservations, but the Fellowship is quite the honor (the first anthropology recipient did have a simultaneous teaching position, possibly by not connecting the dots between departments. I also hear that now one can take a break from Fellowship funding to teach, which was not an option during my era). I did get some valuable teaching experience as a volunteer assistant for skeletal biology and primatology courses, but they were off the record and there is no physical proof that I did these activities.
So, as a late bloomer, I graduated and tried to find a teaching job with really nothing but my moxie for credentials. In April, I was hired to be an online instructor for Ashford University. I was appointed to teach two consecutive sections of Anthropology 101, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology. Excited but nervous that I have finally made a profound leap towards my career, I got my materials together and set up my online classroom.
I am having the best time!
My first class has ended and my second has just begun. It has been such a warm experience ushering students through the foundations of anthropology. I have received the nicest messages about how much students have been profoundly impacted by how the most basic concepts have changed their way of thinking about culture. Even just over the five weeks of the course, I have seen the writing of my students improve by leaps and bounds. (Though, too good, in two cases that turned out to be plagiarism). When I received my student evaluations, I found out that I crushed the school, major, and course averages. The anonymous written comments were all positive.
Now I have both moxie and student evaluations as proof of my teaching!