Fall is for Flailing at Something

Hi! I’m back after a break and ready to talk about teaching! Today I gave the Biology Departmental Seminar at Simon Fraser University, which was super fun and I have all kinds of conversations swirling in my head.

One of the most fun conversations was around trying a new thing in September. In the before times, I taught a variety of courses each year, which kept me humble and on my toes. However… one of the consequences of the pandemic years was that our students missed out on lab courses. As a consequence, I have taught the same lab course each term since 2020. It’s easy to settle in as an expert, which leads to the inevitable – “Didn’t I already teach you this??” – when new students ask the same old questions.

Last year I decided to commit to trying Something New in September. Last year I enrolled in Roller Pole (which is exactly what it sounds like) and this year I have taken up aerial silks. I am twice the age of the other students, and it’s physically scary. This experience reminds me weekly of what it feels like to be new at something – unsure, out of my comfort zone, and hoping for a supportive environment.


As we were sitting around the table this evening after the seminar, a wonderful colleague from SFU chimed in that she’s taken up painting for the same reason. She said – “I suck at painting” – which is exactly the point! We all suck at a thing the first time we try it – students included. I highly recommend joining students in trying Something New in the fall – it’s fun and humbling. In the wise words of Rani Ban, I support “Fresh Starts and Do-over All Year Long”.

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