It is, when considering the wind chill, nearly 0ºF outside. It feels like it’s only three degrees higher inside.
I’m in preparation for the return to work. I’ve already prepared class syllabi wherein I spell out my expectations, the university’s expectations, and the repercussions involved for failing us both. Funny thing about my syllabi: When I first started teaching, it was only one sheet of paper. “Here’s when you have a test, here’s what chapters to read, and here are my office hours.” Pretty basic. I think one year I decided to jazz it up by color-coding the topics. I was in the thrall of what Shakespeare called, “my salad days.”
Since then, my syllabi have grown into documents that international treaty negotiators would envy. My current incarnation is a whopping ten pages, and it covers everything from what books or chapters are to be read (and when), to the definition of tardy, and how long I’ll take to return a test or assignment to the class. I am a firm believer in giving out too much data, so I’ve tried to make the document as comprehensive as possible. It’s helped make my life significantly easier. People think that I’m being funny when I say this, but it’s true – if you don’t set the rules out in the beginning, students, regardless of age, will ride roughshod all over you.
This term is weird because it’s the first time that I’ve had no reason to add new prohibitions. Last term was pretty tame, I guess, but then again, most of my students were upper-level, so they knew the drill. I did get people who were quick to inform me that since they’re “paying for this class,” then they could do whatever they pleased, but both were freshmen (enjoying that sudden burst of ‘adulthood’), but their tunes will change as they get further along in the system. I’m sympathetic because I was young once, and felt as they do – my dime, my time, as it were. I was an adult and that meant that I didn’t have to listen to anyone. How quickly that illusion was shattered!
The majority of my preparation is in reviewing class lecture notes, preparing or updating PowerPoint slide shows (which I hate with the intensity of a dozen suns, but I have to be “tech” savvy, so go figure), and planning any “special” class dates. I have to pinpoint when tests will be administered and what they’ll cover, and I have to do this so as to not have multiple class exams overlap. Pity the idiot who schedules exams or papers for every one of his courses on the same day. That’s a classic newbie mistake, and you only need it to happen to you once to make you eternally vigilant. Will I bring in any treats for my class? Now’s the time to decide what it’ll be, where I’m getting it from, and how much will I need to put aside for expenses. Will there be movies? I hate movies almost as much as I hate PowerPoint slide shows (maybe just ten suns), but sometimes they serve their purpose well. I’m toying with the idea of a class field trip (in college!), but it will depend on the class dynamic. Classes are just like families, and sometimes you end up with people who you just can’t take anywhere nice. So I’ll need to wait and meet my groups to determine whether or not something like that would be possible. So much to do and very little time left in which to do it.
It might not look like it to the casual observer, but my classes are planned down to the Nth Degree. So, despite this flesh-numbing cold, I’m going to continue on with my preparations. Oddly enough, despite the recurring doubt that I feel about my chosen profession, I’m actually getting excited about the future.
Maybe the cold is starting to mess with my head.