I now know why I became a writer. Because I like composing words on paper, not assembling them on the fly in front of other people. Like, say, a room full of college sophomores, some of whom are definitely smirking at you as you charge through your own introduction so unceremoniously that it's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment. Even things that I've scripted for myself turn to gobbledygook when I try to make myself say them out loud. Non sequiturs? Redundancies? Rambling sentences that trail off into awkward attempts at humor? A total absence of humor?
I taught my first class today, which I thought I was prepared for. Last week, I printed off all the handouts I would need and set up my university website for posting supplementary materials and had my lesson plan all written out with timing and even segues to use so I wouldn't have to ad-lib any. I went so far as to put everything I would need into my car so that in case I got stranded on the way back from wedding #5 (this past weekend -- more on that in a separate post), I could go directly from the airport to campus. But I might as well have left everything at home because I didn't follow what I had written for myself. Well, okay, it wasn't quite as bad as that sounds -- I stuck to the agenda I'd put together, but for the parts where I had to open my mouth and say meaningful things about the goals of the course, expectations, and all that administrative stuff you use to set the tone for the semester, I kept straying from my crib sheet. Badly. I don't think I contradicted myself, but I definitely felt like I was making a mess of things. Oy.
Of course, where I almost never strayed was my tone -- I stuck close to the tough side of my teacher persona (borderline mean, I'm afraid to say) while enumerating what I expected of my students. Definitely stern and a little scowly. Shudder. I'm sure it will pay off in terms of preventing behavior issues -- I only had to use the teacher look once when a girl started talking to someone next to her while another student was talking, and she stopped chatting right away when I cocked an eyebrow at her rather pointedly. But man, did I dislike the persona I was projecting. I was more than stern about the workload, my being a tough grader, my standards in general. My little sis's reaction after my description of how I thought I sounded: "Dude, I'd drop your class."
Yeah, me too.
At least I used nearly all the time I was allotted (70 out of 75 minutes). Having to manage a room full of 13-year-olds for sometimes twice that amount of time when I last taught made planning my agenda for today way easier. Maybe Wednesday will be better on the speaking front. We'll be doing discussion-based activities that don't require me to lecture, which is the heart of what this course is about. I can't wait for this to feel more routine. Right now, I just feel rusty.
1 day ago