Friday, March 27, 2009

Trying to make sense of teaching

Teaching is exhausting. I knew it would be exhausting, but I never realized the magnitude of it. Going into this, I knew what kind of professor I wanted to be in the classroom--engaging, someone who would be approachable, someone who would actually give a damn about the students--but that entails more than just designing entertaining lectures and making self-deprecating bald jokes about myself in class. I am constantly e-mailing them or interacting with them online. I'm helping as many of them with their papers as I can, which means constant reminders that USA Today is a pile of steaming crap, wikipedia is awful, and legitimate research is done elsewhere.

I'm really tired, and this is just my first semester, teaching only one class.

A big part of it is also doing the prep for the first time. I spend a ton of time each week going through the book, figuring out what is actually worthwhile, working in whatever geeky jokes I can, figuring out what I have experienced in my own life that is relevant to the material that I can tie in--for example, when I taught race, I talked a lot about growing up white in a diverse community and having a lot of non-white friends, and I also talked a lot about sports in a racial context to demonstrate how race is still incredibly relevant today.

I think it works, but we'll find out when course evals come along. When I was a student I always thought the semester flew by; on the other side of the classroom, time travels at warp speed.

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