Yesterday was my first day of classes. My early class seems to be pretty lively. The noon class took some work to get them out of their shells, but once they realized that I was human, they seemed to relax a little bit.
I did something different yesterday since my classes are about 10-12 people larger than I’m used to. There are three possible outcomes here: 1) It won’t make any difference to the class dynamic; 2) it will give students the wrong impression that because class can be fun, they don’t have to take it seriously; or 3) they will feel relaxed and comfortable enough to participate in discussion.
It’s usually an activity I save for later in the semester, when the students need a break and need to relax. But since I didn’t have anything planned for today, and our classes are sooooooo long (nearly two hours on TR), I didn’t want to let them out an hour early. We did this. It also works well with Into the Wild and Open Boat or other “survival” stories. But at the risk of sounding like a corporate throw-back, it does work well for “team building.” The students have to work together, and they have to come up with a plan, and they have to present their plan to the entire class. It’s fun, and it’s a non-threatening way for them to have to share their ideas with each other, and most of the time, in a group of 5 or 6, all of them contribute at least something. There’s generally not just one person who takes control. Of course I had to explain that we don’t play games in class after today and that I couldn’t guarantee that it was all going to be this much fun, so we’ll see.
My comp class is this morning in a building I have yet to find. Sadly it’s not in my building where my office and other classes are. So that will be interesting to have to find. Hmmm.
I should probably start getting ready soon, but I will say this, I feel very comfortable here. I am not filled with anxiety about the start of the semester. It’s weird to say that I feel like I’ve always been here. And perhaps it’s because it’s not my first t-t job that I don’t feel all new and nervous and worried. I feel like I actually belong where I am, and like I will actually indeed be able to make the scholarship requirements for tenure. (There’s actually no reason why I can’t, seriously. the only thing standing in my way is myself really). I feel good. I feel good about myself as a professor and about my abilities. And I think it’s because my colleagues, all of the ones I’ve encountered, actually *see* me as their colleague–not as the “new girl,” not as their daughter, not as someone who is clueless. Yes, everyone is willing to be helpful and answer my questions without judgment, but like I think I said a few weeks ago–it’s expected that I don’t know certain things about the school or what needs to be done, and I’m not judged for not knowing. And that it’s understood that the frist quarter is hectic (mostly because of trying to figure out the pacing of the quarter system), and no committees are assigned for the first quarter. No advisees are assigned for the first quarter. Nothing extra is thrown upon us while we’re adjusting. There are some reports that the first year is committee free while the newbies settle in. And I think that’s probably why I don’t have a lot of anxiety right now. This job, even though the requirements for tenure are higher than my last job, is less stressful at the start. I have no illusions that things are going to pick up, but you know what else I’ve noticed, too? No one looks or seems stressed (except the Comp director and the new Chair, but not as much as you would think). Again, I’m sure things will change, especially once papers start coming in, and as tenure binders have to be submitted, and promotion binders and such (there are people up for tenure and promotion this year) but that’s reassuring for now. Of course there’s always the possibility that I can fail and fuck up, but I don’t feel like that’s a possibility here unless *I* make that happen. (Does all of this make sense?)
The point of all of this is that while I know my rose colored glasses are still in place, and I recognize that I’m still in the honeymoon period here, but I notice a big difference in how I’ve felt at the start of the semester the last two years and how I feel right now (and I know a large part of that was the J being in Afghanistan), and I like how I feel now.