While it's true that I'm only teaching three classes this semester (rather than the four that I taught in the spring), and that they're all classes I've taught in some form before--and while it is true, further, that I only teach two days a week--I just can't believe how tired I am now that the week is over!
I think I wasn't fully aware of the additional energy that a tenure-track position demands: so many emails to answer about this committee and that program; so many policies and technological advances to keep abreast of; and frankly, just so many daily interactions with so many people--whether social, administrative, or otherwise. As a lecturer at Big Urban, I came in, taught my classes, hung out for office hours, and left. I did speak regularly to the DUS, the secretaries, and the department chair, but fundamentally, I had no reason to know or really care how the department as a whole functioned. I didn't like feeling disconnected from the department in that way, but it did free up some significant mental space.
But onto the specifics:
My classes are going well so far. The biggest surprise was my 3-hour evening class on Big Willie. Since it was the first class, and since reviewing course policies and doing introductions only takes so long, I had my students do . . . scansion. For a solid 2.5 hours. And they didn't mutiny! In fact, they seemed very prepared to believe that the form of the verse contributes in important ways to its content, and they gamely attempted a number of passages and even got into serious arguments with each other about why the stress ought to be here and not there. (It probably didn't hurt that for some of the time I showed an RSC workshop video in which a 1970s-a-licious Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart did much the same thing, from the actor's perspective. There's nothing like seeing Gandalf in tight pants to perk up a classroom.)
Brit Lit I was a bit shaky on Day One, but after putting the fear of God into my students (telling them exactly what taking the course would demand of them, reviewing my Very Serious list of policies, and giving them a written assignment for the next class meeting), I did scare off a few people and Day Two went very well indeed.
As for my students themselves: they seem great, and not noticeably different from my students at Big Urban. Regional U isn't a research institution, but it attracts roughly the same mix of students: smart suburban kids who want to stay local and for whom the public-school tuition (and/or a big scholarship) is very attractive; first-generation college students; transfers from local community colleges; a small but noticeable number of non-traditional or returning students. Their ability levels differ, no doubt, but by and large they seem like good kids, adequately prepared, and who are fully capable of doing the work if they're given the right tools.
(And lemme tell you: after having taught remedial comp at Big Urban, it was such a treat to read the diagnostic essays of my regular-comp students here. Imagine! Virtually every student began his or her essay with some version of: "In [article title], [author's full name], a professor of [subject] at [institution], argues that [reasonable summary of the magazine article]." I almost fell over. Someone actually taught these kids something in high school!)
I was also very happy to see that several of my new colleagues also believe in wearing a suit on the first day or week of classes. This is more true of the women, but I did see one man wearing a full-on suit (sans tie) and another wearing a very nice jacket and trousers combo (also sans tie). I do love my suits, and it was nice to take a couple of them out of the mothballs.
The only negative, other than exhaustion? The seasons already seem to be turning, and I'm actually rather cold--at night it's in the low 50s. Since when do people wear long sleeves in late August?