Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Freedom is About to End

It's almost that time again. This summer flew by just like last summer did. In another week and a half, I'll be back staring at the walls of the old, cold dungeon known as my office, that basement room where I have to run a heater even on the hottest days of summer. Thankfully, I do have a window with a street-level view of the parking lot. But for all I complain about that space, when I really think about it, I'm still amazed that I have a place that I can call "my office." Not many people in the world have their own office (actually I share with a cool friend with whom I attended graduate school, so it isn't exclusively "mine"), and even fewer can say that they work--and teach--at a university. Once, a neighbor asked me what I do, and I said that I teach English at the university, to which she replied with awe in her voice, "You're a professor?" It was then that I realized that . . . well, I'm still not sure exactly what I realized except that people view what I do as something very out of the ordinary. The fact that I teach 18-year-olds at a university sets me quite apart, apparently, from those who teach 18-year-olds in high school.

(Technically, I'm really not a professor. There's no official title for those of us in my position at my particular university. We're designated as Full Time Temporary--no noun after Temporary. The most accurate noun would probably be Instructor, but no one has ever gotten around to actually naming us, so everyone just calls us Professor for the sake of ease. Most of the time when people I meet ask me what I do, I just say that I'm an English teacher, but if I'm meeting people who I can tell are sort of hoity toity, or if they're yankees, I'll say that I'm a professor.)

So anyway, yesterday I spent a lot of time working on my class website. Since I've learned how to do things like make my own buttons for links, I'm spending too much time making my site look cool and not enough time revising my handouts. I'll be working on that today and the next several days. I probably shouldn't have put it off this long, but summer break is called summer break for a reason.

It's close enough for school to start that I've begun having those dreams at night where I'm either taking or teaching classes, and I forget to go to one all semester. After school starts and the essays start coming in, I'll dream about grading papers, and it'll be one of those restless kind of dreams where I wake up as exhausted as was when I went to sleep. Thankfully, that particular one happens only once or twice a semester. (My husband still dreams about being in school, and he absolutely hates hearing the back to school commercials on TV, he disliked school that much!)

In a way, I'm sort of looking forward to going back to school, but most of me wishes I could just skip it. However, I didn't win the lottery this summer, so unless I win in the next few days, I'll be looking forward to making the aquaintance of another hundred eager (and not so eager) young adults in a couple of weeks. Actually, I really do like my job, for all the complaining I do. I get to work with some good people, and I really like my students, even though they can drive me near crazy sometimes. Once I get back to it, I'll enjoy it and anticipate going to class. Right now, though, going back to school just means the end of another summer of carefree living.


Streak said...

we have more in common than I thought. :) Where the hell did summer go? And how do those kids keep getting younger and younger?

JMG said...

Oh man, Streak, I'm amazed at just how young they are and how little they know in contrast to what they think they know!

Are you back at it yet? I have faculty meetings next Friday, but I'll probably skip the general meeting that morning and just go to the department meeting that afternoon. If they ever start taking roll at the general meeting, then I'll start attending!

Tony Arnold said...

I am feelin nervous and way behind on planning my first attempt at teaching. I will be an adjunct of a senior, required engineering class. Being a student is much easier than being the instructor.

Last night I was on campus as part of some adjunct orientation and getting security pass, etc. Being in the business world, I am amazed at how un-organized and ad hoc the University is the week before classes start. They don't seem very prepared although freshman are already on campus.

Anyway, I have discovered my class planning is far ahead of most of the full-time professors, but then they have taught the class before. I feel I am way behind and having trouble finding time on top of my full-time job.

But I am most of all excited to be working with the students. I will 14 in my class.


JMG said...

Tony, how are you ever going to have time to blog now? You've been slacking as it is.

Welcome to the unorganized world that is the University. Actually, there is a plan written down for how things are supposed to work, but it was written so long ago that it is no longer relevant. If yours is anything like my university, the people in the administration office don't get out very often because they are so busy counting beans.

I'm sure that you are much more prepared than you think you are. But even if you aren't, most of the time, the students don't know the difference, especially during the first few days of class. You'll do fine.

One word of advice: If you find that you like to sit on top of the teacher desk, be sure to check that the top is securely attached to the base, or you'll end up in the floor.

JMG said...

I went to the other day and found out that I am not hot. I've been living in delusion all this time.

Tony Arnold said...

Thanks for the encouragement and for the tip. You do have to watch where you sit.

My first semester as an undergrad at Vanderbilt we had a young grad student teaching our calculus class--Ms. Cousins--she was awesome. Great teacher, very personable and so cute it was killing us guys in class, and she was only about 4 years older than we were.

This was back when chalk boards were still in use. She had a habit of leaning on the chalk rail. Well the straight line the chalk dust made while she sat turned into a nice "W" outlining one of her more attractive attributes when she stood up.

It was more than we could stand...pure torture.

She got her graduate degree in mathematics and then became a missionary in Africa for the Methodist church if my memory serves correct.

She was such a wonderful person and a very gifted teacher. And did I mention cute...

Well I have to go to now...

Mom said...

I was somewhat like Husband. But one of my favorite commercials was a few years ago. The music playing is "The most wonderful time of the year". A dad is happily shopping for school supplies with two not so happy children. Not that I was that glad to send you and your brother back to school. I just liked to shop for school supplies. Still do!
Love you

JMG said...

I like that commercial too. I recall, though, that you rarely had any problem getting me to go to school.

And I like school/office supplies, too. I got a Staples catalog in the mail yesterday, and I've been sort of drooling over all the nifty things I could buy.

Ayatollah Mugsy said...

You have been tagged by the ayatollah, JMG. Details are available on my blog.