Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Year, New Feeling

Well, this is different.

My first year of teaching, I started every semester--nay, every day--quaking with dread. Okay, that's an exaggeration--but a really slight one, honestly. I feared teaching. I looked forward to its end. Sometimes, during class itself, I liked it all right...but I inwardly rejoiced at the end of every hour, every week, every semester.

That's no way to live a life, right? Just waiting for it to end?

As it happened--and as typically happens, and as I expected to happen--the dread and the fear diminished with time. In my second year, I noticed that I did not actively dread each class; I even seemed less sweaty. By last year (my third), there was little or no anxiety most of the time; I no longer feverishly reread my notes right up until class time, and I had figured out that just being, you know, a mostly-normal person in class, one who talks to students and pauses and makes jokes and whatnot, made teaching feel almost natural. This year, I'm feeling even more at my ease, and I like getting to know my students and interacting with them in class (for the most part).

Today was our first day back; I just had one class, at 9:30. I wasn't nervous (not consciously; my body does persist in having some first-day-nervous-symptoms, but I don't actually feel it in my brain, which is where it counts) (if that makes any sense) (okay, to give you an example, at one point I just kept dropping the caps of dry-erase markers on the floor, and I noticed that my hands had a little shake to them, which surprised me, because I didn't feel nervous. That's what I mean) (I also like completely lost my voice about 10 minutes in to class--which is something that I think happens in the first class of every semester, now that I think about it! I'm going to need to start carrying water on Day 1) (and I'm going to end this sentence now because it's way too long).

(Let's start again.)

I wasn't consciously nervous (how's that?), but neither was I, like, thrilled to be back in the swing of things. When people say that they're eager to get back intp the classroom, I don't really know what they're talking about--as much as I like my job, I would always rather be able to stay home and read some interesting books than to have to go someplace, and be prepared, and talk, you know? But today, about 20 minutes into the class, I realized that I was having fun.

And even when I first walked in, I said "Good morning!" with more real enthusiasm than I think I usually do. And I was happy to see the students whom I've had before.

And, as I was leaving class and a new class was filing in, several of the students in the new class waved and greeted me cheerily. One did pretty miserably in my class last year--but it was good to see her. I felt...happy.

So, um. This probably makes it sound like I'm normally a miserable wretch who hates teaching; such is not the case. Teaching is pretty fun. But, again, I'd always rather be on vacation. But today? For a little while? I was happy to be back in the classroom.

How freaking weird is that?


Earnest English said...

YAY!!!! That's awesome! I do like teaching and so have only hated it when I have a class that goes terribly. But I would almost always rather be on my couch reading a book!

Even liking teaching though, I always have the kinds of tics you describe on the first day. Always. When I was in grad school, a group of us decided that this was excitement, instead of nerves. One colleague said it was just the body gearing up for the work of teaching. And it is tiring work. Which I think is my signal to go home now.

My word is unsting!

Spanish prof said...

That's great! I love teaching, and good students (even bad ones if they are nice enough). But above all, I love the opportunity to show them a world they know nothing about, and open their minds (Contemporary Latin America).
It doesn't happen very often, but occasionally, the energy of the class was so good, the feedback and exchange of ideas, that you leave the room with a renew faith in humanity and nothing negative that happens in your job affects you for a week.

the rebel lettriste said...

Every minute in the classroom is better than any other job. I really do believe that is so.

And yes, ALWAYS carry water.

My fave beginning of the semester tale? I had to bring my own chalk, in my adjunct NYC days, so I'd carry little nubs in my pockets. And one time, also, I was carrying an OB tampon. Which I busted out to use to write upon the board. I don't think anyone notice, but jeez...

Dr. Koshary said...

Dropping things is a lot better than what I thought you were going to confess. I usually get a nervous stomach the day before I start teaching. The less said, the better.

It's very good to hear that the anxiety and symptoms fade a bit with experience. I look forward to that.