Monday, January 7, 2013

First Day

What my colleagues say on the first day:  "Did you teach yet today?  How did it go?"

What I say:  "Oh, really good.  They seem like a really good group of students.  Really good."

What I think:  "No, I didn't teach.  I read the syllabus aloud to thirty adults who can legally vote.  I did this because otherwise they wouldn't know the policies or assignments.  They still won't.  I fielded questions like 'I don't have the book.  Is that okay?' and 'I'm going to be late every Friday.  Is that okay?'  I read a list of policies that was three pages long, each bullet point a scar in my soul from some miserable semester when a student did something I never thought any student would ever do ("Do not cut your nails in class.  Do not bring animals to class without permission.  Do not sleep.  Do not text.  Do not surf Facebook or any other nonacademic site [read, porn].  Do not ridicule other students.  Do not ridicule me . . . "   I tried to tell jokes and crush the endless boredom of the first day, but that didn't work.  I let them go early, went to my office, and took off my shoes.  Are they good students?  How the hell should I know?  One or two probably is, going by the laws of averages.  But three or four are probably nightmares, which I can only hope to contain.

And yet, the bloom is on the rose.  It's the first day.  It's over, and tomorrow isn't here yet.  I've got a lot of hope, and still a little bit of excitement.  And enough cynicism to know it won't last long, so I might as well enjoy it while it's here.  So, yeah, I guess it went fine.

17 comments:

  1. I wonder how well a line such as "don't do something in class your grandma wouldn't approve of if she was sitting next to you" would work. Seems pretty all encompassing.

    Then again, if they weren't such bambis in the first place, you wouldn't need any such statement.

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  2. All in all, I like that attitude.

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  3. I'm giving them an extra point on the homework if they staple the pages before turning it in. And deducting a point from their HW grade each time I catch them texting.(Both for the first time.) I think they understand *points*, but I'm not sure they care enough. It's the kind of thing that does wonders for my RMP ratings.

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    1. So help me, the next idiot who can't even figure out how to use a stapler, something I figured out in 2nd grade, and one of which is bolted to the table in the front of the classroom and kept loaded with staples, GETS HIS DICK STAPLED TO THE FLOOR. Inevitably, it's always a male who can't handle this.

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    2. Frod:

      I often had such people in my courses while I was teaching. Many of them, however, had to be treated gently because at least one of their parents (usually the father) or a relative owned a firm that hired many of the graduates of that institution. So, if I wasn't "nice" to Junior, he or she'd complain to Daddy, resulting in a few careers starting off badly because of being unemployed on graduation day.

      I hated being held hostage by such nonsense.

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    3. NLAM: No such worries for me, since because of our engineering school's never-ending race to compromise standards, our graduates are so dangerously innumerate no one will hire them as engineers, even in the best of times. I met one working at Carl's Jr., no kidding, and wouldn't you know he screwed up my order.

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  4. A student was on the waitlist, got into my class, but didn't bother to check so didn't come to class today. He emailed to inform me that he will attend the next class. I informed him that he now has one absence, and to be sure to read the syllabus so he is aware of the attendance policy.

    My reading the syllabus out loud seemed to require that students had their hands on the computer mouse at all times (the course is in a computer lab).

    I can now predict, by where students choose to sit, which ones will be a problem.

    Several students showed up at my office on this, the first day of class, hoping that I would find open classes that they can register for. But only if the course meets on Wednesdays only and between the hours of 11 AM and 2 PM.

    It is a thankless job.

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    1. I used to teach a CAD course and all of our sessions were in a computer room. I remember one time when I found out a student wasn't paying attention to my lecture because he was busy drooling over some porn site he found on the Internet, using a department machine to do so.

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    2. I always sat in the back corner of whatever lecture or computer lab: closest to the exits and least likely to be bothered.

      Bambis up front always bugged me. Too try-hard-ish.

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  5. What gets me is how they act like SUCH young children. Anytime I'm criticized for reading to a class, the complaint is inevitably that this is what one does with 4th graders. But what's the alternative? They read, write, think, and struggle with math at that level, and they certainly won't read anything more than two sentences long, ever, not even if it's on the freaking test.

    See what a stress-free life we proffies have?

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    1. Frod:

      You're caught either way. If you treat them like the responsible adults the law says they are, they accuse you of being dictatorial and too strict. If you treat them like the children they often behave like, you're talking down to them as if they weren't the grown-ups they believe they are.

      Stuff like that made me glad I never became a father.

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  6. Ah, yes, Day 1 is always so hopeful, except for when four students talk about the woes of ordering books online that won't be likely to come until next week, and whether they can turn in assignments then since they shouldn't be held responsible for not having a book yet. Sigh.

    I had one student email me during class to say she was in the classroom but no one else was there. She asked if she should remain for the entire class period.

    My response: "Generally, if no one is there in the classroom, you can assume you're in the wrong place. I don't know where you are, but come to Room 201 in Building C."

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    1. She emails you. During class. And expects you to respond. From the classroom, mid-syllabus.

      Do they really expect us to be as attached to our buzzing pocket email devices as they are??

      Head + Desk.

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  7. My semester doesn't start for another two weeks. Time to tweak the syllabus a bit further...sigh.

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