Saturday, September 05, 2015

Meet the new teacher, same as the old teacher

The second week of classes just ended, and so far the transition, at least in terms of teaching, has been ridiculously easy.

Partly this is because both my classes are ones I've taught before: British Literature I and a 300-level elective, Sex & Gender in the Renaissance. Neither course is quite the same as the versions I've taught elsewhere--each fulfills different curricular and general-education functions--but they're close enough.

More important is that, unlike the previous times I was new faculty, I now have a decade's worth of full-time teaching experience. I've dealt with front-row blurters; students who never bring their books to class; brilliant kids who want to hold forth on tangential issues. Those things don't phase me. I also know how much lead time to give before due-dates, why I might want to use an online gradebook, which policies need spelling out, and what isn't worth class time.

(I'm sure there are still student populations that could surprise me or that would require new skills; I'm used to a mix of abilities but a lot of eagerness and raw potential--students ready to be excited by Chaucer if I'm excited and show them some ways in. I'm not used to sullenness or complacency or entitlement, or students who are there just for the social aspects of college. Nor do I have experience teaching a room full of uniformly elite students. A different baseline in student preparation or attitude would require an adjustment in my teaching persona and the kind of scaffolding that gets us from A to B.)

And. . . did you notice the part where I said "both my classes"? This is the first time I've taught just two--and I'm doing it again next semester, and the next! (The teaching load is 2-3, but I got a course release for my first year.) I found 3-3 perfectly manageable, especially with so many repeat preps, but two is delightful--and really helpful when I'm still spending hours a week on the phone and internet, changing my insurance, health plan, and various registrations; finding new doctors and hairdressers and gyms and tailors.

It also means that having an Honors section of Brit Lit I (six students doing additional readings, writing longer papers, and holding additional meetings) and a grad section of sex & gender (ditto, basically) feels fun rather than burdensome. And that I have time to do other things that make me a better teacher, like require that every student come to my office hours in the first month of class.

The transition to a much bigger school (but a smaller tenure-line faculty, proportionately) is something I'm still getting my head around, and whose differences I'm not sure I fully recognize. More on that, I'm sure, in due time.


Comradde PhysioProffe said...

Your excitement at the new job is definitely coming through in your post! Super cool!

Flavia said...

Thanks, CPP! I guess I am feeling pretty positive.