A student came this morning to talk about her final research project. She wasn't as lost as she thought, but she couldn't quite grasp how everything was supposed to come together (and don't we all know that feeling!). I drew diagrams; I asked questions; I used props; I scribbled down notes. She nodded and asked questions and explained where I didn't make sense and, in the end, left with a much better idea of how to tie the whole project together. I ran across campus to grab something to drink after she left and on the way back, I thought,
"I like this part of my job. I like sitting down with students to work through roadblocks; I like the push and pull required of working one-on-one with students; I like being able to challenge and support my students - and I'm good at it. Maybe it doesn't count for anything in the grand scheme of tenure and promotion - but I'm good at it. Maybe I don't do everything well - but I am good at this."
Self-aggrandizing, perhaps, but sometimes, it's nice to feel like you do something well.