So far, so good!
We’ve managed to get through the first week of classes. I met with all three of my groups on both Tuesday and Thursday of last week, and I am happy to report that it seems – from this early vantage point, at least – that things are going to go swimmingly.
My first class of the day is a public speaking course. It meets at 8:40 and, like most 8:40 classes, the students arrive a little dull. Most of them mosey in with take-out coffee cups in their hands, and I’m thinking about asking a couple of them with the Dunkin’ Donuts variety cups to consider springing every once in a while for a box of Munchkins. They manage to perk up a bit by the time the second half of the class rolls around, so I’ll likely try to save the note-taking and other attention-requiring activities for after break and get them doing group work and playing games in the first half of class.
Anyway, this group seems like a pretty good bunch. I have five girls in the course who were with me in the composition class I taught during the semester before last, and I really liked all of them, so I’m happy to see them again. I do have one or two students who may present me with challenges, though; one is a student who O’Mama had in her speaking class last term (which tells you something about how well he did), and the other is a young man who, by way of introducing himself, made a point of telling me that he comes from the slums, that he speaks Ebonics, and that he has anger issues. For his first, highly informal speech (we played the “like, um, ya know” game), he essentially rapped for 30 seconds, and included a lot of inappropriate language and incomprehensible city slang. I can tell already that he’s going to by my biggest issue this term; when I told him that he’s going to have to learn to moderate his syntax and learn to speak slowly, clearly and appropriately, he did the affected “this is who I am, yo! Like it or not” thing, to which I replied, essentially, “you can be like that, yo, but it won’t earn you a passing grade with me and you’ll get to do it again next term.” Do not get into pissing matches with me, kid. You WILL lose.
My 11:10 class is tiny; I have eleven students on the roster. One of them is a young woman who was also my comp. class last winter, and she told me that she was really excited about being my student again. It seems she’d gone to the registrar’s office and essentially said “I want to work the rest of my schedule around Mrs. Chili’s speech class.” I was flattered, and I’m happy to have her back; she’s a strong writer, an inquisitive thinker, and she’s got a fantastic sense of humor. The rest of the class is comprised of thoughtful, engaged students who, so far, participate in discussions and ask really great questions. I think this is going to be my favorite class this term.
I’m running an experiment with the 11:10 class: my impressions of them on the first day were that they were mature and focused. So far, that has borne itself out, and I’m considering letting them call me by my first name. I mentioned this on Thursday, and had a short conversation about how awkward I was feeling about it, about how most of my students to this point have lacked the maturity to conduct professional relationships without the formality of the name, and that I was trusting them to be my experimental class to see how it goes. I think that all of them recognized and appreciated what I was trying to say, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Of course, my former student in this class is roommates with one of the students in my 8:40 class, and THEY’RE calling me Mrs. Chili; I hope this doesn’t create trouble later…
My last class of the day is comprised almost entirely of culinary studenst (there’s one business administration student and, of course, me). It’s a Foundational English class, which is essentially remedial grammar. The foundational students are a very interesting mix of personalities ranging from studious and attentive to, well, not. This is typical of culinary students, I should add: the range between the kids who are serious about what they’re doing here and the ones who are only going to college because their parents would kick them out if they didn’t is nowhere more obvious than it is in the culinary school.
On the first day, I ended up with a gaggle of kids who weren’t on the roster. I penned their names on the last page, taught the first class, then sent an email to the registrar letting her know that the kids were with me that day and asking if they were supposed to be. It turns out that none of them was, and I got to kick them all out on Thursday. This was an unmitigated relief to me; the class was huge – at one point, I was up to close to 30 students – and I could tell that a couple of them were going to be huge disruptions to the class.
One boy in particular was a delight to remove: did you ever see Police Academy? Remember the black guy who only spoke in sound effects? That’s this kid. I don’t know if he has Tourette Syndrome or something, but the entire class was punctuated by his high-pitched “chicka-chew!” sounds at inappropriate moments (as if there’s an appropriate moment for that in a college classroom). It was slightly more than I was willing to deal with twice a week for the next eleven weeks, thank you very much, and I’m not ashamed to say I’m glad he’s sitting in someone else’s class.
All in all, it looks like it’s going to be another great semester. I have a ton to do; I really kind of goofed off last week and we didn’t get any real work done, so I’m going to get serious this weekend and plan at least the next four to six classes. I have to download a bunch of speeches for the first two classes and come up with activities for the grammar kids. I need to make sure that I have everyone uploaded into my grading program and be certain to keep up with entering grades. Once I feel like I’ve got my feet underneath me, though, I’m going to really love going to work.