In less than 24 hours, I will have taught my first official class. It’s a crazy thought, and I have mixed feelings about it, including mixed feelings about my mixed feelings. On the one hand, I am nervous. This is for-real teaching. It’s not the review sessions I had to lead during the second half of last semester. I’ll be the teacher, the whole teacher, and nothing but the teacher. That’s bizarre. On the other hand, I don’t feel as nervous as I’d expect. The scariest thing for me is how to use the class time well. I’m supposed to be teaching for almost two full hours per class meeting, which is well beyond the 45-minutes that my review sessions typically lasted. And my review sessions sometimes felt like I ran out of things to say. So it’s going to be an exercise in time management, and that’s honestly my biggest fear at the moment.
So what are my mixed feelings about my mixed feelings? Well, in part I’m incredibly glad to feel as casual about this teaching gig as I do. I think the fact that I’m teaching summer semester makes a huge difference. In the fall, I’ll teach two, maybe even three classes, and it will be a full-on, normal academic situation. That, I think, will feel much more intimidating and weird. As far as summer goes, however, things always feel more laid back. Sure, the class meetings will last longer, but the summer semester itself will last only seven weeks. Those seven weeks will probably pass as quickly as prune juice through a geriatric, and that’s a really soothing thought—even if not such a soothing image.
The other part of my mixed feelings about my mixed feelings is that I partially think I should feel more panicked. Actually, writing this post is helping me feel more appropriately anxious. Since I started writing, my anxiety level has quintupled, give or take an –uple. I’m mainly worried that I’ll be panicking once class begins. I’m not sure, though. Sometimes I’m an enigma even to myself. In a lot of respects, I’m pretty good at handling things as they come. When push comes to shove, I generally feel like I’m able to step up to the plate, just because I have to. Tomorrow, I’ll have to act like the calm, professional teacher because I won’t have any other choice! Oddly enough, it’s the inescapability of the situation that might ultimately save me. At the same time, I can’t help worrying that I’ll feel like running home crying once I step through those classroom doors. Mind you, I’m not scared of teaching at this precise moment, I’m just scared that I will feel scared. Next to my fear of Bananas in Pajamas, that’s typically the kind of fear I experience—the fear of fear. FDR knew what he was talking about, folks.
Because I’m a first-time instructor, the philosophy department at my school is going to be spoon feeding me a lot of the material for my lectures. That means my preparation time will be kept to a minimum, which is good. My grading responsibilities might also be relatively light. Class size is limited to 35 students, and most of my fellow grad student instructors have already reached that cap. I’m still sitting pretty at just 22 students. That could change by class time tomorrow, of course, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I’m still planning to accomplish a great deal during the summer, and I’m already worried—genuinely worried, not just worried about being worried—that I’ve lost too much time as it is. One thing I do hope to maintain is my recent resurgence in blogging. As an instructor, I’ll be obligated to hold three office hours per week, just as I did last semester as a GTA. This means I’ll probably be sitting in front of a computer bored for at least three hours per week. Hopefully that’ll guarantee I write something on a weekly basis. Regardless, I’ll try to write about my first experiences as a bona fide instructor by the end of this week. Either that, or I’ll post the traumatic but captivating tale of me soiling myself in front of twenty-two 18-year-olds. It all depends on whether or not any actual teaching takes place. We’ll see.