Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ready As I’ll Ever Be

by Emily May Anderson

Tomorrow, at 9:05am, I will attend my first graduate class. Tomorrow at 4:40pm, I will teach my first English 15 class.

This is so exciting and scary!

Last week was very busy. I got on the bus at 8:36 every morning and orientation started at 9:00. We were mainly in one particular room; the location of the building was convenient but the desks/chairs in the room were horribly uncomfortable. Not just not comfortable, but truly painful. We had lectures about the Composition program and English department policy, we got course syllabi and rosters and schedules and keys and lesson plans and all sorts of information. We heard from faculty and current graduate teachers about how exactly they conduct the first week of classes. We graded some practice papers and spent a whole morning discussing them - by the far the most fun and helpful morning of the week. We had people come in and speak to us about diversity issues, sexual harassment, the Writing Center, the Counseling Center, the Women’s Center. We got a tour of the library and free lunch that day. We spent one morning and a separate afternoon in a computer lab learning about all sorts of technology issues. It was exhausting, mentally and physically.

But we socialized too. Except for the day the library gave us lunch, we were on our own for an hour to an hour and a half, so we got to eat with our classmates, or run errands with them, and just talk and get to know people. Thursday night, two of the other new MFAs and I walked over to the milk and cookie party. All the new MFAs were there and quite a few of the returning ones. We chatted and ate cookies and it was nice and relaxing. Friday night, my roommate and I and our neighbor drove out to a party at one of the faculty member’s houses; there was very good food, and I think all of the new students were there, along with a few returning students and a few other faculty people. Some wine was drunk by me, and much fun was had. Maybe 1/3 of us new folks convened at Mad Mex downtown after the party wound down and enjoyed some more laidback talking and drinking. Saturday was the EGO party. N cooked dinner for my roommate and I, then we went to the party. It was packed and hot and loud and crazy, but less so than the last time I’d been to that house (same house that hosted the first party of recruitment weekend). I got to talk with a few of the older students I’d either not met, or not spoken much with, before; and got to bond with a few of my fellow newbies. Some people got drunker than I had yet seen them, and I got drunker than I had been since moving here, but not too drunk. Four of us were singing along to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” in the car on the way home though. Fun stuff!

Everyone here, from the new students to the returning students to the faculty and staff, really is ridiculously nice, and, for a group of academic people, remarkably social. A handful of folks skipped the party last night, but most attended, and I think everyone there had a good time.

Today, I finished prepping to teach for the first week – I have outlines for each day, and I wrote out a full script for Monday and Wednesday, though I may not even refer to them; it was just helpful to write it. And I cooked a big pot of soup so I can eat leftovers this week, and I picked out an outfit to wear for my first day of teaching. I am as ready as I’m gonna get, and I am excited to get started and see how it goes!

I was thinking yesterday that I feel a little bit like I have lost sight of being a student this past week and just thought about being a teacher, but since our orientation was for teaching, that makes sense. I know that things will balance out, but since teaching is so new to me, I’ve wanted to/felt like I had to put in a lot of effort to feel prepared. Once I get through the first week and see how things go, I’ll have a better idea of how my time will distribute itself. Oh, I just can hardly wait to get started!


  1. You are soooo ready! Really, you are. They've given you great preparation. I always wondered if teachers wrote out everything, like giving a speech or something. That's a good way to build confidence. Good luck tomorrow!

  2. Best of luck Emily! I start classes next week.

    I'm glad you had such a good time at the parties, we have a welcome party this Friday night and I'm nervous as hell to go!

  3. Wow! What great prep! Ya know your description reminded me of training for my first full time job. there is something about taking people in the same job and letting them learn together and network together that makes the whole process SOOO much more bearable.

    I love that you called it writing out a script - it really is what you are doing when you are prepping for a class isn't it :) All that prep and then the inevitable ad lib.

    Break a leg!

  4. Thanks, everyone! My first class went well; I was a little nervous and probably went over some things too fast, and I think I only remember 6 of the 24 names but so far so good. The script really did help; I didn't look at it during class, just at an outline, but the process of writing it out helped a lot.

  5. What did it feel like teaching people who are likely very close to your own age? I've always worried about that, even though I haven't actually taught anyone yet.

  6. Keith, I'm actually 31 and these are all first semester freshman (probably 18) so they aren't all that close to my age. I'm not sure how the dynamic would be if they were, but plenty of people do teach when they are fresh out of undergrad themselves, so I'm sure it works out just fine.


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