Monday, March 25, 2013

I Deserve This Beer Too

In April 2012, we posited that while we prefer to think we deserve a beer most times we simply want it. For the second time in less than a full calendar year I can safely say that I deserve this beer too. Since moving the corporate headquarters to upstate New York we have purchased a home, started new day jobs, criss-crossed the state for said jobs, and survived a Buffalo winter. None of that is why I deserve this beer.

Five days prior to the start of spring classes I interviewed for, and accepted, a teaching position with the local community college. I was looking very forward to joining the faculty as a part-time Assistant Professor in late August 2013. Despite a complete lack of educational experience (read: never taught a real class) I very much looked forward to shaping the minds of tomorrow's best and brightest. In my mind's eye were intense debates on the hottest public policy issues and in depth conversations on the various forms of federalism and their impacts on the states. Me, a modern day Charlie Moore, enlightening an emerging Generation Y on the importance of the role of government.

Then it all came crashing down. The Department needed somebody to teach a class for the spring semester. Thinking "sure, I can pull this off" I foolishly accepted the challenge of pulling together a full semester class in less than a week's time with no real teaching experience to speak of. What could go wrong?

How I see myself
The night before classes started I barely slept - my subconscious already knowing this was a mistake. By the alarm clock's warning the rest of me knew this was a mistake. I had no copy of the text book (it arrived later that afternoon). A pre-arranged meeting with the Department Chair focused primarily on Scantron forms and office keys; which did nothing for my nerves. Yes, they still use Scantron forms. After locating some chalk and my mail slot it was off to the lions den where things got worse. I don't fear public speaking but this was every cliched nightmare come true. Picturing everybody in their underwear wouldn't help because I couldn't remember to picture everybody in their underwear. Hell, I couldn't remember the course title or my name. I probably wet myself a little.

Things are better today (because we are in the middle of spring break). Using a different text book than students were purchasing at the college bookstore I managed to pull together a pseudo-syllabus. I've settled into a semi-stuttering groove with the lectures. The class did have a good policy debate on gun control.

How the students see me
I deserve this beer because teaching is fucking hard. I know several teachers and never suspected it to be an easy task but it's much harder than I expected. I literally spend all of my free time preparing for class - reading, researching, pulling together lecture notes, grading tests and papers, etc. Any minimal contribution I previously made to household chores is no more. I missed the Super Bowl and rarely catch any other sporting event. I'm up late every night and I'm a terrible educator. I can't believe people do this for a living.

Frankly, I'm supposed to be pulling together the next exam right now. Instead, I'm borrowing from the private collection a New Glarus Laughing Fox. It's a good beer gifted to me by a good friend. Any educator stumbling upon this blog will surely snicker at my whining and deservedly so. I'm going to enjoy this beer and in six weeks I'll have time for another post.

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