Venturing Into The Other Side of The Classroom
Academic Year 2018-2019 was the beginning of my journey as a college instructor. Specifically, for the De La Salle - College of St. Benilde's Multimedia Arts Program. As of this writing, I am now in my fourth year with CSB.
Admittedly, my main reason for taking this leap is financial in nature. While I do call myself a professional freelancer (with official receipts and an accountant at that), I've hardly done any hardcore marketing or self-promotion. I don't even have a website. I'm very fortunate that I've survived not having a full-time paycheck for ten years since leaving Summit Media. The projects that I've handled were mostly through referrals, relationships, and some level of buzz because of my work in comics and theater. Still, I needed something more stable, so teaching was a strong option.
Not that I didn't like to teach. My mom and dad were teachers, and I had thought earlier on that that's where I'd end up, too. But I had envisioned it happening later rather than sooner. Tuxqs Rutaquio would also encourage me on occasion to try it out.
I felt all sorts of jitters entering the classroom for the first time. This was supposed to be the first batch of students coming from the K-12 curriculum, a controversial move by the government to "catch up" globally. Since the students were entering college two years later than previous batches, there have been some speculation as to how different they would be in terms of maturity and skill uptake. Some of those speculations have been confirmed, but I won't get into that here. I'm just thankful that the department has been very patient with me with all my questions and concerns.
So far, I've taught drawing, graphic design, writing, and portfolio. I'm also venturing into thesis paneling. Portfolio is definitely my favorite, as it's more of a consultation-based course. While I do enjoy the other courses that have been assigned to me, I do feel that I need more prep work to get into their flow. I tend to feel terrible if I feel I could've done a better job.
What's great about being in CSB is that I'm not required to have a graduate degree to teach, as they have what they call a professional teaching track. That way, industry pros who have real-world knowledge can share their experiences with students to enhance learning. I had wanted to take a graduate degree, but I couldn't settle on a program, not to mention the time and financial investment involved.
It's true what they say, though, that expertise in a field doesn't translate to teaching ability. Having knowledge is one thing, but transferring that knowledge effectively is another. It's something that I've been trying to develop. If there's anything that this pandemic has done to help me is that it forced me to double-down on the methodology for teaching drawing, sort of taking myself through a crash course in instructional design. I had to create videos for some of the faculty as a way to help them with online instruction. Those videos have been viewed hundreds of times on YouTube, and I've received good feedback. They're not perfect, and I intend to iterate and revise. The bonus for me is that I've been able to train myself in making formal tutorial videos--something I can perhaps monetize later on.
I'm enjoying my experience so far. The longest I've ever stayed with a company is seven years (with Summit Media), and I can foresee myself being a teacher for longer. It's always a delight to see the glint in a student's eyes when a piece of knowledge locks into their comprehension, and they're able to apply it.
Oh, and it's nice being called a "cool prof."