Friday, January 19, 2007

The Buzz

Our classes start on Monday, so the past few days, the building's been abuzz. Mostly it's instructors and administrative assistants, a few student workers, all getting ready. Each of my classes is ready to go, except that I haven't decided quite what I'll do on the first day of my text class. It's a two hour class, so there's plenty of time to go over the syllabus and start to get to know people; it's my five hour class this semester, so getting to know people is especially important to me.

In the poetry class, we'll be talking about the Robin Williams "Martian Haiku" I love so well (Red sand between my toes / Summer vacation in outer space), asking if it's a poem, and what a poem is. It works surprisingly well for such a simple little thing.

In Shakespeare, we're going to start with Sonnet #30,

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long since cancell'd woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanish'd sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored and sorrows end.

You know, this Shakespeare guy has a way with words.

I'm excited. I got my class lists today. I know perhaps three students already overall. So I have a lot of names to learn! I'm teaching sophomore level classes, one of them the gateway to the English major class. Yet in each class, I have several seniors and lots of juniors. I also have a few repeaters. You know there's got to be a story with those. I hope there's no need for me to hear it.

I'm nervous. I remember the first day I went to teach my very first class. I stood outside with the other people, waiting for the class before to finish up, and wondering if they could tell in any way that I was the instructor. I was terrified, but also pretty sure that the students were nervous, and that helped somehow.

I don't get as terrified now, but I definitely run on adrenaline when I teach, and I don't sleep much before the first day of classes. Once I get into the room and get started, I settle down, but that first moment, I'm a tad tense.

I have noticed that I make some of the same stupid jokes every term. "Hi, this is Math 720, Linear Regression, right?" I need better opening lines.

I have my first day handouts all made and prepared. But I don't remember where my classes are, or in what order I teach them (that could get exciting, eh?), but I'll make up my class folders and have those to carry around.

This week, and Monday, are among the busiest days for our administrative and student workers. We load them with files to be scanned, assignments to be copied, and magically they seem to appear in our boxes, collated and stapled on colored paper.

It may be just me, but I love giving out colored paper handouts. It's absurd, but they seem easier to keep track of on colored paper.

I realized that the bookstore ordered the Oxford Schools edition of one of the plays rather than the Oxford World's Classics edition. I've never taught out of the Oxford Schools edition, and I don't want to start. It's disruptively busy. So I called over, and the bookstore order person couldn't find the isbn numbers for the texts I'd ordered; they didn't exist. But, instead of telling me to just deal with it, she called Oxford UP and got the information, and the new editions are on their way, supposed to be here within the next week, plenty of time for us to do some sonnets and another play first.

I thanked her. And thanked her again. For some reason, she was just willing and able to solve the problem, and it's taken care of. Amazing.

So here's a big thank you to the people who keep my university running and who don't get much credit. Thank you for making me look less stupid than I am, for getting my copies and scans made so that I can relax this weekend, knowing they're all piled in my office. Thank you for being kind when I'm a bit nervous and antsy.

I'm heading home to finish up some reading and start the last weekend before grading.

No comments:

Post a Comment