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!

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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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