Finals time again… The English class I taught this quarter ended on Monday. I haven’t really been discussing it much here–I’m getting cagier about mentioning classes as they happen–but it went really well, I think. Students took part in class discussions, papers were rich and interesting. It was really a lot of fun to teach, and I had the twin pleasureable experiences of learning a lot about the texts we studied, and showing off my vast and total knowledge of literature. I think the students enjoyed it, too, but I’ll have to wait to see what evaluations look like.
(By the way, in the interests of fairness: remember all that crowing I did about my great teacher evaluations from fall quarter? Yeah, well, I got my evals from winter, and leave us say there was some regression: I scored below average in nine out of the fifteen categories. Usually not far below average, but still. I remember noticing that my class seemed sort of brooding last quarter, but it didn’t occur to me that I would reap the results of that.)
Speaking of teaching, I overheard a discouraging conversation the other night. I was at Starbucks the other night, getting some coffee to keep me going on a paper. It being finals week, the place was packed with undergrads. Two women in front of me, one with a sorority shirt, were talking about their studies.
“Are you studying for finals?” the first one asked.
“Oh my god–I’ve been studying all day, and I’m going to be studying all night,” her friend (the one with the Greek shirt) said.
“Me too–working on the essays, you know.” I’m pretty sure she said essays. I thought, Hey–maybe they’re studying for a composition class. I started listening more carefully.
“Who’s your T.A.?” asked the woman with the sorority shirt. My ears perked up; maybe it was one of my friends?
The first woman hesitated. “The weird one who’s really smart,” she said, gesturing vaguely.
Her friend nodded. “I have the other one.”
The weird one who’s really smart? The other one? Keep in mind this is the end of the quarter. Do they not even know their teachers’ names? Plus, “the weird one who’s really smart”? That is not descriptive. That is, like, every grad student I’ve met.
So yeah, it turns out students don’t always learn their T.A.’s names. Okay. I guess this means that the student who e-mailed me at the end of my first quarter teaching and called me “Mr. Hitcher” might have actually been in a higher percentile than I thought.
The other horrifying thing I heard those girls say was in regards to the coffee she was ordering. You have to understand, I’m a purist in regards to coffee orders. I always order a “caffe latte,” never simply a “latte.” (What it is, I once ordered a “latte” in an Italian café and was served a mug of steamed milk.) So it was bad enough that everyone in that Starbucks had caved totally in regards to sizes (people! Order a large! Do not order a “venti!” Tall is not small!), but I also learned that some people actually abbreviate “frappucino” as “frap.” The girl in front of me ordered a “Tall Frap.” It was the most Southern California moment of my time here so far.
Also, did you know that there’s a Starbucks Visa card now? It’s called the “Duetto.”