First Day of Classes

The first day of school is always both chaotic and slightly dull. You really can’t do more than go over the syllabus and get started with just a little bit of review/overview. Yet, there’s this internal pressure to make everything perfect, as if the first day is really a good measure of the entire tone of a class–it isn’t. I know my students are sizing me up, judging whether or not they’ll enjoy or dread my class. I’m just lucky if I don’t trip in front of them, get too nervous, pronounce their names incorrectly, or have technology fail me. My solution: dress up. If I feel cute and authoritative, then I’m a little less nervous. (Although, I also think the day I start a semester without a case of the nerves might be the day I’ve been doing this too long; and obviously, me writing this posts implies that I’m having my typical first day jitters, so yay?) And I think dressing professionally does a lot of the work of building my ethos for me.  Yet, doing so inevitably freaks first year students out a little bit because they’re not used to teachers pulling out the sartorial stops the first week or two of class. (At least they’re not used to it here; I’ve been other places where not dressing up regularly could actually end up on your student evaluations as a negative.) It all settles out in a couple of weeks as my students inevitably realize that I’m a goofy person and that I’m not going to take their heads off if they ask questions. Nevertheless, I’m sitting here, drinking my morning coffee, in my aggressively cute new dress, wondering how the first day will go. Will I be brilliant? Probably not. No one is on the first day, and really, how dazzling can a syllabus, tentative schedule, first assignments, and initial course questions be? But will I want to be brilliant? Yep.

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