January 10, 2004

My name’s the teacher, or that is what I call myself

Filed under: Uncategorized — tomemos @ 3:37 pm

It went fine.

Oh, sure, I was terrified and stammering at first. When I realized that no matter how hard I tried I was not going to be able to write legibly on the chalkboard, that sapped my confidence in a major way. And when I started my introductory spiel, I realized that I had no damn idea what I was saying, it was like the actor’s nightmare. So I winged it, badly, sounding like I had no idea what the class was about or what we would be studying. And when we went around the room, with everyone introducing themselves and saying something that made them unique (not a name game, I wish to point out), that somehow failed to be, you know, interesting. I felt like I was being passively attacked by a classroom of bored, silent wolves.

But then I gave them an in-class writing exercise, and that gave me time to collect my thoughts. When we came out the other end of that, I took them to where I feel comfortable: talking about a book. We discussed the introduction of Nickel and Dimed for about twenty minutes, and while everyone wasn’t jumping out of their seats to contribute, we had about five or six people (out of nineteen; it’s a start) who said something. I also identified the young Tomemos: he raised his hand every time I asked a question, and he made weird jokes in the margins of his writing exercise. I can’t believe I’m going to give the “good job participating, but you need to give other people a chance to talk” talk. THAT is a reversal.

So yeah, despite the panicked beginning–“Teaching probably won’t get any harder than that first twenty minutes,” my dad said when I told him about all this–it ended up okay. One of my students said “Thank you” as she walked by; for what, I don’t know–showing up?–but at least one person was not feeling hostile towards me. (Or else she’s starting early on her grade-grubbing, I don’t know.)

I feel really good about the rest of the classes now. Partly because I know better what we’ll all be talking about, and partly just because I’ve seen the elephant. Count on me to keep you posted in this space.



  1. Actually, for all our harping about forgetting lines, the actors’ nightmare is never having an audience ever again. Although i’ve had the line-forgetting one a couple times now (and i don’t tend to have Standard dreams), the other is the horror too terrible for even the subconscious to hoist upon ye.

    Congrats on the first day! Don’t expect them all to be revelations. What sort of class is Writing 39C, anyway?


    Comment by Brian — January 11, 2004 @ 11:27 am

  2. Go you for surviving the first day! Woot! Everyone I know who’s taught says it’s far and away the worst; after that you get the hang of it. =)

    Comment by Fae — January 11, 2004 @ 9:52 pm

  3. Sorry, Tom, but it is a little-known fact that it is actually the 34th day of teaching that is the hardest, not the first. I’m not a math expect nor an education professor, so I cannot explain this phenomenon, but I believe it has something to do with communism. Good luck, and watch out for one balmy day in February.

    Comment by Bret — January 12, 2004 @ 12:25 pm

  4. Math expert, not math expect.

    Comment by Bret — January 12, 2004 @ 12:25 pm

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