last chance class

My fourth and final semester as a post-grad teaching fellow at SMFA begins on Wednesday. Even though I've taught this class three times before, I've enjoyed mixing things up a bit each semester, meaning I'm only recently feeling ready for the semester to begin after completing my revised syllabus this weekend. I think I've finally found the right blend of structure while allowing students to essentially do their own thing. Last semester was perhaps the most structured of the three up to that point and I felt the most successful to date as far as keeping students motivated, helping them see their projects through to completion, etc. Not to take anything away from previous semesters' students, but I think I learned that even college level adult students thrive within a certain amount of structure and discipline. So I'm trying to instill that teaching philosophy into the fourth version of my class syllabus. Ironically, even though I'm having students display/distribute otherwise handmade work via websites and blogs, I'm not sure how I'll use the class blog this time around, if at all. My attempt to use a blog as a teaching tool has been mostly unsuccessful over the past year and a half; I'd rather they focus on their projects this semester. I'll keep it going, if nothing else to provide links to relevant topics and their projects as they develop, but that's probably the extent of it.

Anyway, after this semester SMFA will send me on my way, kick me out of the nest, so to speak. It's been a fun ride but I'm ready to move on. I got a lot out of my time there, worked with (and hopefully will maintain relationships with) some pretty amazing people. But ultimately, I have to admit I've been feeling a lot lately like I'm not sure how well the MFA degree has prepared me for the next step, or if I'm even sure what the next step should be. I feel like there's this mysterious and overwhelming gap between receiving that terminal degree and really doing anything with it. Or, I should say, doing with it what I'd like to do, which is teach. I feel like I need several more years of teaching experience and a much more impressive exhibition record, but I'm frankly not totally sure how to achieve either, let alone both simultaneously. And while my mentors have been incredibly generous with their time and advice over the past few years, there is this feeling that you have to kind of figure it out on your own.

That said, getting my act together has motivated me to begin working again, and hopefully I'll get some sort of response to at least one of the applications I'm in the process of submitting to various teaching gigs in the Boston area and beyond. Last week I even submitted an application to a pretty sweet gig at a college I blogged about the night before I taught my own class for the first time. How funny would it be if I got a job there? Funny and/or excellent. I'm trying not to get my hopes up too high, since I'm not sure how qualified I am for anything I'm seeing so far, especially the tenure-track gigs (I'm thinking not very), but I have to at least try, right?