October 20th, 2011


Listening to you I get the music

In all the news and activity and vamping with pop culture talk I missed the chance to report on my First Day of Teaching My Own Class in far too many years. It went, I'm happy to report, quite well. It started with minor last-minute panic as I needed to get my syllabus photocopied, and also learn what my actual class roster was; I wouldn't get that data until after the first class. I turned out to have a 14-student class, with 12 in attendance. But photocopying gave me the chance to talk again with the department secretary as well as to meet some of the regular staff. Also, a page of an English essay was printed on the photocopier; one of the other staff crumpled it up and threw it out in time for the sender to come in looking for it. With it flattened a photocopy proved acceptable.

I also realized, rather belatedly, that I didn't know where my class was. That is, I had the building and room number, but no idea where the building was. The secretary helpfully walked me to it, and we learned that my room was actually a computer lab, so there was a security lock on the door which my faculty ID card wasn't yet programmed to open (the previous class was still going on, though, so we got in by the standard security breach method). Also, despite my classroom being a computer lab and despite having been provided with PowerPoint slides to use for the standard model course, my actual classroom had no instructor's computer. I had my iPad with me, but the connections weren't right. So I had to speak improvising the whole lecture, which is more pleasant for me anyway.

Afterward I held my first office hours in the Adjunct Instructors office, in another building, which is a crowded row of computers with a photocopier and some lockers. Nobody I knew came in, but I did meet a history adjunct who needed to photocopy things and generously gave me a copy of his study sheet for every war in history (the things one had to know, in his opinion, to understand any given war), and I read the under-edited student newspaper. Later on I'd move office hours to a room in my classroom's building which is less equipped with hardware but easier to find and which won't require going outside when the weather turns lousy.

Trivia: Isidore of Seville, writing in Visigothic Spain, asserted that pepper plants grew guarded by serpents, which were chased off by setting the undergrowth ablaze, allowing them to be harvested in their wrinkled, blackened shape. Source: Spice: The History Of A Temptation, Jack Turner.

Currently Reading: Gold And Spices: The Rise Of Commerce In The Middle Ages, Jean Favier.

PS: Searching For 800,000,000 On The New York Thruway.