Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Moment I've Been Waiting For...

...has arrived.

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...


Teacher Poet said...

Whoa...laugh out loud funny! I like the bit about Rhode Island. That's a small town in NY, right? You have to take a ferry to it? :-P

DocHoc said...

Glad to see you finally got your books! Great post, my love. I especially like 'Dr. Mother Bear.' However...the other two *lifts eyebrow in deep thought trying to guess*??

I suppose I better get a move on with a post. Expect an immaculate conception within the next two days--mwaha.

Jennifer said...

I love your policies and punishments!

I was surprised you laughed with glee about being the institutional authority. What do you do when a student passes out in class? Or, around--what cute nickname do you have for your alma mater?--your alma mater, if you're responsible for using an evacuation chair to get a disabled student down 4 flights of stairs during a fire?

Oh, sorry! I'm not supposed to be scaring you. The good part is most classrooms don't have emergencies. They sure tried to scare us with that kind of stuff at our orientation here, along with students whose belly-button-piercings got infected.

Yeah. Don't ask.

By the way, I don't know what books Cornfield U sent you, but I used to like The St. Martin's Guide to Teaching Writing for some basic classroom stuff: http://www.amazon.com/St-Martins-Guide-Teaching-Writing/dp/0312451334/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1216819813&sr=1-1. I haven't seen the newest edition, though.

Me said...

Swords are too messy. I recommend a taser. Here's a good deal on one that's just your size. Let me know if you want me to add it to my Amazon store, sweetie...Mama C.

Me said...

Oops - forgot the link.


K. Mahoney said...

Just to mix things up a bit...you might add an "or" clause to policy #2. Something like "or, I get to make up a story about why you are late and tell the class as you stand facing them."

It's actually fun. Keeps your mind fresh. Diffuses the anger that someone would actually be late you your class. Really.

Michael5000 said...

Number 5 is your ace in the hole.

I wouldn't let Rhode Island jokes bother you, though. No point getting upset about the little things.