Friday, August 22, 2008

New beginnings, new classes and interesting encounters

I was "oriented" today. My syllabacuses were OKed. As far as my beginning composition class is concerned, I feel quite confident: this is my third time teaching it. Obviously, this in no way makes me an expert, but it certainly allows for some easier breathing compared to my second class, which I am teaching this semester for the first time. As of yet--despite a summer's worth of discussion with various family members and other teachers-- I still don't feel that I have any great ideas. I will do my best, and will always be at least a coupla steps ahead of my students. Aside from that, I got nuthin.

I need to realize that at this point in my teaching career, not everything I do in my classroom is going to be uber creative and completely original. While of course that is my goal, I need to worry about being efficient before I worry about becoming Ms. Frizzle (best teacher ever). It's going to take a few tries to taylor my assignments, finding out what works best along the way. Aside from that, my biggest enemy is confidence. What if I fail? What if someone walks away from my class thinking, wtf? I can't wait to talk to myself four months from now, to see what I have learned, and to see if I've figured it out or not!

I mentioned, in casual conversation with one of the faculty members (as casual as a conversation with a faculty member can be), that I found her syllabus and class structure helpful in preparing my own. I figured it might be an opportunity to hear her philosophy on the class itself, and the approach she uses with her students. Boy, I got more than I bargained for. She immediately invited me to one of her online forums--and not just via email: she took me to her office, had me sit down and sign in, and made sure that I was on her list. I learned very quickly that there is nothing casual about this woman. She is intense. Her career history is fascinating, and when I congratulated her on the book she had published that day, she shrugged, "Yeah, I've got two that came out today." I couldn't help but laugh at her deadpan tone.

It seemed very apparent that she was trying to take care of me, and so I wondered how clearly it is written on my face that I'm pretty much clueless as to how to go about this class. I appreciate her generosity with her time, as one thing I've learned in grad school is to be mindful of people's schedules. No, no, I'm hanging out in her sooper posh office while she recommends all kinds of sites and assignments. I was simply overwhelmed, and couldn't help wondering what I'd done to land myself in her good graces! I'm not one to look a gift-horse in the mouth, however, and know that I have found myself a powerful mentor for my teaching in the coming year.

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