Wednesday, September 08, 2010
It’s the same every year. It’s actually sort of reassuring.
I can count on hearing certain things, and have already gone through most of the list for this year:
“Books are too expensive!” Yes, they are.
“Can you believe what some students wear in public?” No, I can’t.
“How was your summer? Oh, right...” Grrrr.
“We need more faculty/tutors/labs/classrooms/time/stuff” True.
“So-and-so hasn’t retired yet?” Nope.
“I heard rumors of more state budget cuts.” Yup, and I heard the sun would rise in the East.
“You need more parking.” Yup, and the sun rose in the East.
That’s not to say that it’s entirely predictable. Each year brings a weird new personnel issue, but you never know exactly where it will strike. (Past years have included a full-timer taking another job three days before classes started, an aneurysm, a last-minute medical leave for the entire semester, and a request three days into the semester for a change to a three-day schedule.) There’s also usually a really annoying IT glitch somewhere, but the exact glitch is always different. And each year the new students look juuuust a little bit younger.
The trick is to remember that no matter how many iterations of the first day I’ve been through, it’s the very first one for a whole lot of people. They’re excited, and scared, and lost, and easily overwhelmed. For others, it’s the second time round, but after a long layoff. They’re excited, too, though they show it differently. (They’re usually the ones who show up a week early to figure out where their classrooms are. I love that.) And I remember from my faculty days that wonderful feeling on the first day of class when nobody is behind and there’s nothing to grade. At that point, anything is possible.
That feeling of new possibility gets me every time. Educators as a breed are susceptible to it; it’s why we do what we do.
Good luck, everyone. The cafeteria is that way.
"The bookstore ordered the wrong book for my class!" - see East, sun rising in
"Why weren't we told the policy changed?" - because you haven't read your e-mail for the last four months
That's what air conditioners DO. They don't get to peak efficiency until about Thanksgiving. Then your classrom will be too cold. And, by the way, keeping the classroom door open won't work. If the air conditioner won't cool down room 423, it's not gonna cool down the whole damn planet.
At Oregon, there were few lots, and no nearby options, and many complaints about parking. At Montana State, there were plenty of lots (including parking lots at the basketball arenas and football stadium), plenty of nearby options, and many complaints about parking.
Thanks for a great post, and yes, the start-of-the-year enthusiasm and excitement is infectious.
Here, I get: "is the WHOLE school full of sorority girls?".. They kind of take over.
However, it is getting high time to do something about the price of textbooks. I try to think of their cost, relative to the tuition of the course they support. In some classes, the book is now well over 50% of the tuition, and in one case the number is over 80%!
There are now viable online or public domain options that we need to champion for our faculty, because few of them are going to do it on their own; it will be more work for no personal return. So it will be up to administrators to help make this happen.
This year, we seem to have more than our fair share of total meltdown/I'mgoinghome/collegeisjusttoomuch in the first week. Now that we're into our second week, most of these students have relaxed and are into the swing of things. It's both heartbreaking and charming.
And for the students who didn't freak out, their enthusiasm is fantastic.
I love the questions to the instructor like "I can't get into the x-online system, can you give me my password?" or "I can't enroll in the class, it says i don't have x-requirement, can you help me with that?" or "I can't get x-online thing to work, can you help?" Like he's the IT department for the college or an admissions advisor.
Anyone who knows me would not describe me as a Pollyanna, but I always tell my students that they all have a 100 average on the first day of class, and it's up to them to keep it.