Letterman Top Ten: First Impressions of Freshman English

Anyone who is friends with me in the Facebook realm will recall that I made a mention of my giddiness to teach English at my new university today. That giddiness had definitely (for me) been muted by the time I actually got to my classroom this afternoon. Now, while enjoying some long awaited chips and guacomole for office hours, I can regale you with a list of things that I have learned on the fateful first day. Like Mr. Darcy, I am struck by the first impression, and have to work must judiciously to overcome it. Without further ado, ten first impressions of Freshman English (as I am pseudonyming it):

10. Even my muted enthusiasm is too much for Section Night (again, name changed to foster privacy). Uusually, I can get a few smiles or snickers over the dumb jokes I crack. Let me tell you, that room was HEAVY with silence. I tried to lighten the mood as best I could, crack a few more jokes. Nothing. Which leads me to…

9. Whole classroom discussion is OUT. They did best when they worked in partners/small groups. I found that for this particular “Night” demographic, the “cold-calling” is just not an option to foster discussion or hear voices. A few students volunteered, but it was the same few. I need to get them in small groups, and fast, if I want a more inclusive classroom.

8. Section Day (Virginia Woolf reference, anyone?), on the other hand, entered with spirit. They found the handouts on the table I had left and made themselves responsible for passing them out to each other. Hooray!

7. Day has a lot of chatty voices…a lot. There are definite divisions as to boy-girl friends that I will need to watch out for, and a few sets of friends that could end up becoming too conversational. But that’s a fairly simple problem to approach and maintain throughout the semester (though, with the right personality, it could become irritating). That leads me to…

6. Group work will be highly beneficial, but whole class discussion could also work, providing that I am able to get a variety of responses from more than just the “core” group.

5. My demographics could not be more different. Section Night has a majority of young white males, while Section Day is much more diverse. I am therefore highly interested as to how their writing, learning, and discussion styles will match up.

4. I really do go through at least one water bottle per class. If I can up that, I’d be happy. Keeping a decent water intake will maintain my energy for both classes.

3. The dressy sandals I chose for their comfort really do NOT walk across campus well. Ugh. I have several blisters. I have yet to find a reasonably comfortable summer/fall shoe that meets ALL of the criteria:

  • Comfortable
  • Aesthetically youthful-looking
  • Affordable
  • Dressy enough to teach in slacks or khakis.

In the meantime, I guess I will stash my teaching shoes in my bag, while I tramp around in my old flip-flops or some other inappropriate shoe.

2. The online learning forum at the university (known by a terribly text-speak acronym, if you ask me) is going to be my new best friend. I can upload notes from the day, other course documents, and attendance records. If I can make this my information dock, then that’s another step in keeping myself organized.

1. Boy, do I LOVE teaching. Even if I joke about Night and Day, I am excited to get to know them all, and individually. I think there is a lot of potential in both sections. I am just happy I can be there to help them navigate the freshman year of college.




Filed under State of mind, Teaching

4 responses to “Letterman Top Ten: First Impressions of Freshman English

  1. Emily

    I know all about blistered feet from walking across campus and then teaching in shoes I thought were going to be comfortable. You might want to check out http://www.seychellesfootwear.com/seystart.tpl. Their shoes are cute and easy to walk/ stand in for a few hours. Every now and then you can find Seychelles at DSW too, and they’re cheaper there.

  2. Yay! This post made me miss teaching. I don’t miss the 80 hour weeks of being in a disadvantaged public school, the IEP’s to keep straight, and the faculty meetings, but I sure do miss those kids.

  3. Shoes are the one type of clothing that I spend good money on. I have a pair of J-41 sandals that I’ve been wearing spring through fall for 4 years now and a pair of flats from Merrell that I bought last year. Well-made shoes treat your feet better and last longer.
    That being said, anytime you’re going to wear shoes without socks, blisters are likely. I’m prone to them on the outside of my pinkie toes and on the back of my ankle where the top of the shoe is. This back-to-school and walking all over the place month, I’ve been rotating through three pair of shoes, and the blister-prone zones have toughened up.

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