Image of Keith J Connell looking in a rearview mirror.

As I stepped into the role of a full-time professor at Georgian College, I couldn’t help but feel a mix of excitement and nervousness. It had been more than five years since I first stepped into a classroom as a teacher, yet the feeling of butterflies in my stomach seemed even more intense this time. The weight of responsibility and the anticipation of the challenges awaited me made me question every step I took during my first week.

Second-guessing and stress took over

Teaching has quickly become my passion, and I have been working towards this opportunity to create a lasting impact on students’ lives for years. But as I entered my classroom that first afternoon, I couldn’t help but feel the immense pressure that came with it. In my mind, there seemed to be so much riding on my performance – not only for myself but also for my students’ success and the institution’s reputation.

I vividly remember my nervousness while introducing myself to the class. Despite having prepared my introduction meticulously, I stumbled over some words, leading to awkward moments. It was a humbling experience, but it also reminded me of the importance of authenticity and connecting with students personally. Despite my initial jitters, I believe that my passion for the subject matter and commitment to facilitating a supportive learning environment began to shine through as the week progressed.

So much more than just teaching

The challenges of the first week were not solely related to classroom dynamics. As a full-time professor, I had to navigate administrative tasks, familiarize myself with new policies, and adjust to the intricacies of the full-time role in the college system. It was overwhelming at times, but with the guidance and support of my colleagues and through the ADP program, I slowly found my footing and realized I wasn’t alone.

What lies ahead

Looking ahead, the weight of the coming semester looms large in my mind. The opportunity to shape students’ minds and inspire them to become future leaders in their field is a privilege I do not take lightly. I am acutely aware that my performance as a professor can have far-reaching effects not just on my students’ academic journeys but also on their career paths and overall growth. Further, my commitment to ensuring a diverse and inclusive classroom adds awareness as I work to include all of my students and work toward a decolonized classroom.

My first week as a full-time professor at Georgian College has been a whirlwind of emotions. My nerves were far more intense than when I started teaching five years ago. The weight of the responsibility is immense, but I am motivated to rise to the challenge. As I embark on this journey, I am reminded of the importance of constant growth, resilience, and a commitment to provide the best education for my students and lead through example. With each passing day, the nervousness begins to fade, replaced by a deep sense of purpose and a determination to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those I have been entrusted to educate.

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