New School Year, that is. Back to work this week after almost 80 days off! What a change of pace this is. I had adjusted to the vacation lifestyle quite easily…
Last week the madness began. Day 1 of a new semester is always crazy… Things have been extra crazy for me getting things up and running for classes because my plan of starting lesson planning on August 1st fell through when, at the beginning of August, the doctor order me to stay off the computer at least 7 days because of my carpal tunnel flare-up. This left me under the gun to get things prepped for my classes starting on August 26. I rushed through my first syllabus, a re-hash of a class I taught last semester, to send it to our campus copy center. It’s AWESOME that they make our copies for us, but everything needs to sent in with at least 2 day business days to spare. As crunch time really hit, I realized there were, of course, some errors in my rushed syllabus, and I needed it reprinted. But there wasn’t time to get this done on campus, so I outsourced to Staples.
I probably should have been doing all this sooner, but I was picking up my copies about an hour before my first evening class started on Monday. When I got to Staples, there was a long line, and when I finally got to the counter, I was told my order wasn’t even printed yet. I asked for a refund on the $5 I paid to guarantee it would be done at 4 p.m. I didn’t think I threw too big of a fit, but they ended up refunding me for the ENTIRE order! And adding a discount. Which meant I left the store with MORE money than I had originally paid for the order! I felt kind of bad taking it, but was relieved to have copies in hand of what I needed for my 7 p.m. class.
Then I was off to campus and picking up the materials for my 5 p.m. class at the copy center. And nothing I had sent in for that class had been printed yet. Uh-oh! Running out of time! Fortunately, the gentleman that was working is incredibly nice, and I happened to walk in at what must have been the slowest moment on this first-day-of-the-semester, so he was able to print everything on the spot for me.
I got into my classroom with 5 minutes to spare. But without having a chance to eat the dinner I had packed. I was rushed and a little hungry, but I had made it. The room was stuffy (due to the triple digit heat and an air conditioner whose temperature I have no control over), and we were short a couple desks, so I gave one student my chair, and another had to stand until one of the students looking to add had left. Oh – that’s another thing that always makes the first day so crazy, especially at the junior college I teach at – there are SO many students looking to add. Honest to goodness, I wish I could add each person that’s eager to learn. These days, with budget cuts and fewer courses available, students are terribly desperate to find courses, and I always hate turning them away. Nevertheless, the meeting went well, and the students in this class had a really good vibe going. They all seemed open, eager, and friendly. I enjoyed it.
Then I crammed down my dinner on my very brief 10 minute passing period. Fortunately, the next classroom I teach at is very close, but I can barely answer lingering students’ questions, pack up my stuff, take a bathroom break, and get to the next room in 10 minutes…
My 7 o’clock class was a little more challenging. I would wager most students were tired at the end of a long work day. And this room was quite cramped and oddly shaped: there were 8-10 students in each row. Very awkward. The students in the back felt like they were in another room. And there was literally just enough width for me to get my briefcase on wheels through the door and up to the front desk. And once at the front desk, I barely had enough room for myself. I like to walk around my classroom. But here? I only had space behind the podium. The end. There wasn’t even enough space for me to get in front of it without being in the laps of the front row students. Oh, and on top of limited space, the computer wasn’t working so the students had to suffer my writing on the white board instead of viewing my beautiful power point. That’s just how first days go though. You have to be prepared … and prepared to be flexible. I am happy to share that by Wednesday evening, I got a room change for this class. It’s much more spacious, has a good layout, and is equipped with a working PC. Most of the students started to open up on Wednesday night as well. There is one student though who has captured my attention, and not in a good way. He is probably close to my age (average in the evening classes seems to be about 20-30), and he looks like he is positively bored with me wasting his time. He hasn’t actually said or done anything negative, but I can see it in his eyes and in his posture. I may have to say something if he doesn’t settle in soon.
All in all, I’m glad that I have the chance to ease into the new semester. This week I will get into full swing with all five of my classes and lab hours, but it will be a truncated week. I won’t really have my first full regular work week until the 3rd week of the semester. It’s going to be both fun and challenging, and I am really looking forward to teaching without being in school full time. I just may be able to keep my wits about me! Except on Wednesdays when my first class starts at 7 a.m. and my last class ends at 9:20 p.m. That will be 3 locations, 5 classes, and 2 lab hours all in one fourteen hour day… fortunately, I’ll have all day Thursday to recover.