1 09 2010

five is how many days a week i’m teaching 2 or 3 classes a 2+ hour total daily commute away from home this semester. 5 is how many other willed, wakeful, and beloved-but-sometimes-vexing creatures disturb my nights and bring wake-up-o’clock alarmingly closer, and 5 is the number on the clock when i have to wake up to make my carpool for three of those days. so far, it hasn’t been the number of coffees required to get me there (i’m only on morning three, and it’s been one each so far, although today i upgraded to medium from mondays small), so i’m doing well on that score.

five is also the number of returning students i have in my classes at the school i’ve been teaching at for 3 years now. take a moment with me to think about what that means (when i give you a little more information to make it meaningful): i teach the required freshman english course. everybody is supposed to take it, and take it once. there are other teachers teaching the same course, so signing up for me as opposed to someone else is a choice (not always for new students, who are often automatically enrolled in core courses, but certainly for the repeaters). so of the students i’ve flunked in semesters past, students who can’t graduate without the course and have every reason to be spiteful at me for denying them the go-ahead to move on, five have deliberately chosen (& all showed up with cheery faces & nary a trace of spite) to come back to me to try again. it’s one thing when the ones who get A’s occasionally thank you for doing a great job, being kind to them, etc., and don’t get me wrong–it’s a great one thing. but it’s a whole other ballgame when the flunkies, who know i’m a tough grader & i demand a lot of work, who talk to their peers & i’m sure have figured out that they could score an easier class with another teacher, seek me out to try again.

so in honor of 5, here are 5 observations about my new teaching schedule:

leaving syracuse & heading north into the misty haze at 6:30 as the season turns toward fall awarded lyn (my carpool buddy) & i a sunrise this morning of a crisp cut-out of a perfect scarlet-magenta circle of pure light cutting through the blur of the eastern sky.

i have twins in one of my classes. teachers never get twins, because schools always separate them. they’re young men with slightly different coloring but the same features–one appears to spend more time in the sun than the other, and so has darker skin and lighter hair–and they sit close together, knocking elbows in ways straight American women who are friends are comfortable doing, but you never see in straight men in this country. it’s friendly and warming to watch.

adjuncts get assigned crappy classrooms. i have one that’s basically closet with an old-fashioned lightbulb projector, four round tables wedged together and almost touching the walls, not so much as a spare chair to put my butt or a winter coat on, a chalkboard i can’t walk along without kicking students, and no chalk. i have one that’s a computer lab but has too few computers for the number of students in the class and too few seats at the center not-computers table, so no matter what we’re trying to do, some of them can’t participate (also with no chalk). i have one (where 2 classes meet) that is basically made of quick-construct walls as an insert into another classroom, and its and the other room’s (marker-less) whiteboards are back-to-back on one thin wall, so my students and i can hear every word of the other professor’s lecture (and i’m sure he can hear each word of mine). my best classroom is the one with fixed tables, stadium seating, & exactly the number of chairs as bodies, wherein it’s a marked physical struggle to do anything remotely like group work. also: no chalk.

i carry chalk. but my department has been dissolved, so when i run out, there’s no longer an office at which to get more.

when i left for home yesterday at 6:30 in the afternoon, as (for a merciful little while longer) the sun was just starting to dip downward, my walk car-ward was awash in the high-note keening of high summer bugs in the grass & goldenrod flourishing in last year’s construction site, & all i could think was “august, i love you. you bring me back to school.”




4 responses

2 09 2010

certainly now the insomnia has abated somewhat, i can promise to reduce the number of wakeful creatures down a digit! a can’t make any promises for the wampus, and certainly not wee picabo (you are the mommy/plaything @ 4am!), but surely you *want* Mr. Pidds to wake you with snuggles at *any* hour??

2 09 2010

i do! i was in particular referring to how you were cussing at him b/c he wouldn’t stay in the room you tried repeatedly to plop him into & instead insisted on walking past & riling up the dog. ๐Ÿ™‚

18 11 2010

Some of us are returning because we approve of your teaching style in a word filled with easy As or boring lectures (or both). In this case we get to both work for the grade and get an entertaining lecture. Hoo-rah.
(By ‘we’ I mean ‘me and the alter egos I like to keep quiet about, in case the men with the white coats come’. But the men in white coats may come to take me away when they hear I enjoy the classwork anyway.)

7 12 2010

these, my dear, are the kinds of words we teacher-types live for. i won’t tell the men in white coats anything at all. thank you!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

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