Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ready As I'll Ever Be

Tomorrow, at 9:05am, I will attend my first graduate class. Tomorrow at 4:40pm, I will teach my first English 15 class.

This is so exciting and scary!

Last week was very busy. I got on the bus at 8:36 every morning and orientation started at 9:00. We were mainly in one particular room; the location of the building was convenient but the desks/chairs in the room were horribly uncomfortable. Not just not comfortable, but truly painful. We had lectures about the Composition program and English department policy, we got course syllabi and rosters and schedules and lesson plans. We heard from faculty and current graduate teachers about how exactly they conduct the first week of classes. We graded some practice papers and spent a whole morning discussing them; by the far the most fun and helpful morning of the week. We had people come in and speak to us about diversity issues, sexual harassment, the Writing Center, the Counseling Center, the Women’s Center. We got a tour of the library and free lunch that day. We spent one morning and a separate afternoon in a computer lab learning about all sorts of technology issues. It was exhausting, mentally and physically.

But we socialized too. Except for the day the library gave us lunch, we were on our own for an hour to an hour and a half, so we got to eat with our classmates, or run errands with them, and just talk and get to know people. Thursday night, two of the other new MFAs and I walked over to the milk and cookie party. All the new MFAs were there and quite a few of the returning ones. We chatted and ate cookies and it was nice and relaxing. Friday night, my roommate and I and our neighbor drove out to a party at one of the faculty member’s houses; there was very good food, and I think all of the new students were there, along with a few returning students and a few other faculty people. Some wine was drunk by me, and much fun was had. Maybe 1/3 of us new folks convened at Mad Mex downtown after the party wound down and enjoyed some more laidback talking and drinking. Saturday was the EGO party. N cooked dinner for my roommate and I, then we went to the party. It was packed and hot and loud and crazy, but less so than the last time I’d been to that house (same house that hosted the first party of recruitment weekend). I got to talk with a few of the older students I’d either not met, or not spoken much with, before; and got to bond with a few of my fellow newbies. Some people got drunker than I had yet seen them, and I got drunker than I had been since moving here, but not too drunk. Four of us were singing along to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” in the car on the way home though. Fun stuff!

Everyone really is ridiculously nice, and, for a group of academic people, remarkably social. A handful of folks skipped the party last night, but most attended, and I think everyone there had a good time.

Today, I finished prepping to teach for the first week – I have outlines for each day, and I wrote out a full script for Monday and Wednesday, though I may not even refer to them; it was just helpful to write it. And I cooked a big pot of soup so I can eat leftovers this week, and I picked out an outfit to wear for my first day of teaching. I am as ready as I’m gonna get, and I am excited to get started and see how it goes!

I was thinking yesterday that I feel a little bit like I have lost sight of being a student this past week and just thought about being a teacher, but since our orientation was for teaching, that makes sense. I also have not bought my books yet, because I don’t have any money; I’m hoping my financial aid refunds tomorrow, so I can do that. My class tomorrow is Intro to Graduate Study; it goes from 9:05-12:05. Then I’ll eat my lunch (which I’ll pack in the morning), then hopefully go buy books, put them in my office, print out copies of an assignment sheet, pick up the copies of the syllabus that should be in my mailbox, and then spend some time reading for class – I’m assuming that we’ll have a reading assignment from that morning – and/or working on the 1-2 page writing assignment I have due for Tuesday. At around 4:00, I will switch my focus to reviewing for English 15, then get a cup of coffee and head to class. I’ll teach from 4:40 till 5:30 (I’m guess I’ll keep them at least 40 minutes if not the whole 50), then head home.

Tuesday I’m supposed to be in my office from 10:30-11:30, then I have my Writer in the Community class from 12:20-3:20. Wednesday is Poetry Workshop from 12:20-3:20, then office hours, then English 15. Thursday I just have English 602 from 1:00-2:15; that’s our teaching seminar. Friday the only thing on my schedule is teaching in the evening. I like that my schedule is busier early in the week, and freer as it goes on. I need to work in lots of writing time (as I have not been doing much writing recently) and my running time as well.

So, that’s where I am right now, on the eve of my first day as a grad student. I am so nervous and excited for this week, and I just want to get started!

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