Thoughts on the First Day of Class

Since I haven’t officially taught a class since last May, I had almost forgotten the simultaneous feelings of elation and horror that accompany a brand new semester–the wondrous sense of starting over with a clean slate accompanied by the nausea of confronting a room full of silent, groggy, impassive faces.  The start-of-semester nightmares arrived right on time for me this year, and none of them came true.  My session today was not held in an out-of-the-way building reachable only by a single bus that arrives 15 minutes after the start of class.  I did remember to dress myself this morning.  I did not speak in a stream of incomprehensible and uncontrollable babble.  My mother was not in the classroom taking pictures of me while I lectured.

Even though the first day wasn’t the disaster I dream about at night, it wasn’t quite the triumph I fantasize about during the day, either.  Here are the highlights (and, uh, lowlights):

  • I got all of the classroom technology working all by myself.
  • Said technology crashed in the middle of class.
  • The helpdesk person (who was sitting right next door, thankfully), reassured me that it was an ongoing problem and therefore not my fault.
  • When I asked students to introduce themselves and talk about why they were taking the class, even if it was just to get a Writing Flag credit for their major, the third student to introduce himself says, “I didn’t know this was a Writing Flag class.  I might have to drop.”
  • Several students said they had enrolled in the class because they found the topic interesting.  I don’t play favorites, but just between you and me, those students are rapidly becoming the front-runners.
  • As I laid out the broad themes of the course during my carefully planned-out opening speech, a student threw me off script by asking me to define “rhetoric,” something I was not expecting at all.  Even though I taught an actual Rhetoric class for two years, I could not, for some reason, came up with a definition that completely satisfied him on the spot.
  • After class, this very same student looked me straight in the eye and said, “I need an A in this class to graduate, and I need you to tell me if that is going to be possible.”
  • An hour after that, I received an email from a student who said he had taken too many downers the night before and had overslept his alarm  and wanted to know if he missed anything.

Happy start of term, everyone!


One thought on “Thoughts on the First Day of Class

  1. Better than me–I launched into a thrilling semester of freshman comp blissfully unaware of the enormous coffee stain across the seat of my pants. Did a lot of board work, too.

    I’m waiting to see how many of them drop.

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