First Day of School
God I forgot how hard this gig actually is. In my memory, teaching composition at the university was something I could do blind-folded, and though I did in many ways slide back into my teaching demeanor, it was not a day without some nerve-wracking events.
I spent an hour printing out syllabi and course schedules before having to teach, and luckily had my friend Brooke's help in stapling everything together in time to go get some coffee and chat with her. When she asked for a copy of my Writing 2 course schedule so she could get some ideas from it, I realized I'd copied the original schedule instead of the one I revised over the weekend with heavy changes, and had to throw tons of paper into the recycle bin. Blah. Then I headed over to my first class to teach. Luckily it was not their schedule I screwed up on copying.
My first class was a Writing 1 course, which went well, and the students all seemed cool with how I explained my course would run and I told them enough about myself and how I like the classroom atmosphere to be that they could decide whether or not to drop my course and try out some other professor. First class done and things were still going well.
Then I go back to the department, print out the right schedules for my next two classes, staple most of them together until I run out of time and staples, then go down to the first floor to teach. But as I'm taking roll, I realize none of the students are on my list. I check to see if I have the wrong list and start calling names from my other Writing two class. Still no names. I check my schedule again. I'm in the right room, but an hour early. What's more confusing is the instructor who is supposed to be there isn't. I tell the students to wait for who is supposed to be teaching them, as there's always a bit of confusion on the first day, and then I hightail it over to the building I'm supposed to be in.
Luckily in that building, which is a block away, my students are all waiting in the hallway outside our classroom because the door is locked and they can't get in. Pure luck. I get someone to open it for us and start class about fifteen minutes late, but we get through everything and I like the vibe of the students in there.
Then I go back to the English department and staple the remaining schedules for the next Writing 2 class, which is down in the room I had gone to first the previous hour. I find the instructor who was supposed to be in that room waiting there now, thinking she has this class. She looks at her schedule and realizes her mistake too. She quickly packs her things and I assure her that her students will forgive her and be back on Wednesday, ready to roll. This class seems like it'll be fine too, though I saw a few faces in the classroom seem resistant or not really wanting to be there. I always address this issue in my classes because these courses are required and lots of students don't want to be there, don't want to read, don't want to write. Don't really want to be in college actually, but they think it's their magical ticket to a better life and job. Sometimes it is, sometimes it's not. I tell them I understand if they don't like composition courses, but there are lots of hoops in life you have to jump through, so it's better to just jump than resist. It'll be easier for everyone. I had to do it with math courses in college, at which I sucked. They liked hearing this. Making yourself human to your students is important, I think.
As I introduce my course and how it's run, during the first week I like to pretend to be a bit more formal than usual. I figure this scares away the students who want some majorly easy going teacher who will let them get away with doing nothing. They often drop the class when they think I'm a way serious fellow and I figure I'm left with the students who aren't afraid to actually do work. Unfortunately, my "way serious" act fell through in my last class as my cell phone went off, blaring Beyonce's "Crazy in Love", revealing, in fact, that I'm *not* way serious and have a Beyonce ringtone. Great. Looking forward to teaching *that* class the rest of the semester.
Hopefully Wednesday's classes will be less nerve-wracking.