For the past month, I have been anxiously awaiting my teaching materials from Cornfield U, and not with much patience. After all, would you be patient if you kept getting letters saying things like, "be thoroughly familiar with 3 textbooks and 2 instructors manuals by the time you arrive for orientation"? No, no you would not. Besides, I've never done this teaching thing before, and I'd, oh, I don't know, like a little time to prepare? After 1 month of waiting (peppered with 3 very kindly worded e-mails and 1 very polite phone call to find out WHERE THE HELL THE BOOKS ARE), they have arrived. I opened the mailbox and a golden glow was radiating from our little gray box. When I pulled out that massively large yellow envelop, I said, "YES! My books!" and danced a little. Just a little. Then I saw that my neighbor was looking. So then I stopped. "Teaching materials, you know. Very exciting," I said. She nodded.
Of course, now I am faced with a large pile of material that's supposed to make me feel better about teaching for the first time, but I just have no idea what to do with it all. It's like this big, looming pile that's peering over at me suspiciously, taunting me with its sheer bulk (I didn't know books could have that look about them, but oh, these babies do!) I decided the best place to start would be with "Behind the Desk: A Handbook for Instructors of Rhetoric." Perfect! After some flipping through, I found my section: "Classroom Management." Bingo. That's what I need. Now, granted, this book really is fabulous, as it has lots of great tips for the clueless new teacher, offering such sections such as, "Teaching Methods," "Student-Teacher Relations," and "Using Technology in Your Classroom." NOWHERE, however, does it address what to do if you look like you're FOURTEEN! Bloody hell. I'm getting on the committee first thing when I get there so that I can edit this for next year. There's simply no excuse for that kind of oversight.
Anyway. The best teaching advice I have received thus far (given to me by 3 fabulous teachers: Dr. Poet Lady, Ms. Anatomy, and Dr. Mother Bear) is that I should clearly lay out my classroom policies on the first day. This will help to set the proper tone of things. I need to start developing these policies, so I decided to get started:
1. I will not tolerate sexism, homophobia, racism, classism, or Rhode Island jokes in the classroom. Anyone who violates this policy will not be warned. They will be shot immediately.
2. Don't be late for class. If you are, you had better come with an iced coffee for me and a really entertaining story as to what was so important that it made you late for my class. Your punishment will be based on how good your story is. This is a chance for you to put rhetoric in action, kiddos. Consider your audience. Your life may depend on it.
3. Those who plagiarize will be sent to Dr. Circle of Leaves for a lecture, then to a work camp in Siberia.
4. If I hear a cell phone, I get to answer it and say whatever I want.
5. If you miss class, you had better have a good excuse at the ready. If you don't, I'll hand you over to my Italian relatives and let them deal with you as they see fit. And lemme tell you, my relatives don't like to see their niece/cousin upset, you know?
That's a good start, yes? Of course, good, solid classroom policies are not the only thing I'll need. I need a killer outfit as well. I'll need a "I'm-not-14-years-old" outfit. A "don't-mess-with-me" outfit. Visual rhetoric is just as important as the written stuff. I'm thinking something very traditional: dress pants, heels, a blouse, and a sword at my side.
But can I just tell you the best part? In the section titled, "In Case of Emergencies," it says that I should recognize that I am "now the institutional authority in the class." Hehe. Yes, yes. Excuse me while I cackle with glee for a moment. What would Freire say?
Oh God, I have no idea what I'm doing...
3 years ago