As a teacher, I can’t think of anything better than the first day of class, really.
Well, besides, the last day of class.
And, you know, all those days I don’t have class.
But the first day of class is pretty up there in my book.
And this week’s first batch of classes certainly didn’t disappoint.
All my students sat dutifully in the seats I assigned them. (Seats at the front of the class because I am the type of teacher who doesn’t let anybody sit in the back. Yep, I’m mean like that.)
They all laughed along at my jokes and didn’t complain when I made them get into pairs again.
They pretended to care when I explained to them the qualities of a good topic sentence. Some of them even took notes. Or doodled on a piece of paper in a way that made me believe they were taking notes.
And when I kept them in class right up until the last possible minute, hardly anyone acted like I was doing it to purposely torture them.
As I was leaving class on Tuesday, one of my students gave me this miniature apple.
Or, at least, I thought it was an apple but it turned out to be some kind of preserved fruit thingie that tasted exactly like a sweet pickle. Maybe that’s just what students give teachers in China? Preserved fruit thingies that taste exactly like pickles.Even the cool dude guys who smoke cigarettes in the hall and give themselves English names like Gin and Eleven were on their best behavior during the first day of class.
They showed up on time.
They didn’t fall asleep.
They only checked their cell phones when they thought I wasn’t looking.
And when I asked them why they didn’t bring their books with them to class or, say, any kind of writing utensil as it is, in fact, a writing class, they acted sincerely apologetic… and a little bit surprised. Like, “Huh? What? I could have sworn I brought the book with me. And what’s this pen thing you speak of? Hmm… now that you mention it, that does sound vaguely familiar.”As much as I love all the good behavior, I love the hopefulness that the first day of a new class brings even more.
Starting a new class is like starting a new relationship. Both my students and I are full of hopes for each other. Except, unlike with a new boyfriend, I really hope my students don’t call me up in the middle of the day to tell me they’re thinking about me. Because that would just make things awkward.
On the first day of class I handed out a questionnaire to my students. It asked them what they learned last semester and what they expected to learn this semester. It also asked them about their personal learning goals and if they had any suggestions for me.
Judging from their responses, my students are a hopeful bunch.
They are also something of a delusional bunch.
They all want to do well in class, but they’d like that to happen without having to do much work.
And they think we should play lots of games.
I don’t really know what kind of games they think they’re going to play in an academic writing class. There are really only so many games about essays you can play. And “Pin the Thesis Statement on the Introductory Paragraph” gets pretty old after the first few times you play it.Of course, my students aren’t the only ones filled with lots of hope.
I have plenty of hopes for this semester myself.
I’m just hoping my hopes are not quite as delusional as theirs are.
I hope to manage my time a lot better and procrastinate a lot less. Like, if I could avoid having a panic-attack-induced crying fit because I waited until the last possible minute to grade the final assignments that would be great. It’s hard enough explaining all the red wine and chocolate stains on my students’ papers. I don’t want to explain why their papers are covered with my tears and notes to myself in the margins that go something like this, “Why do I do this to myself every time? EVERYFREAKINGTIME? Whyyyyyy?”
I’m hoping to keep work at work as much as possible and not talk about classes and students and all that other work stuff when I’m not at work. This isn’t so easy when you happen to live with everyone you work with. This also isn’t that easy when you happen to live in Wuxi, where there isn’t a whole heck of a lot to talk about.
I hope to stay positive and focus on the good things that happen in the class – rather than the little frustrating things.
Because as high as my students’ and my hopes are, I know frustrating stuff will happen. Like, soon.
The new class smell wears off pretty quickly, you know.
In fact, by Wednesday, I was already confiscating cell phones and marking students absent. Including, of course, Gin and Eleven… who I’m sure were just so busy looking for appropriate writing utensils that they forgot to come to class.What’s your favorite time of year at work? You know, besides the time you don’t have to work. P.S. In keeping with the school theme of today’s post, I’m giving you homework! Your homework: head over to the Bloggies website and vote for my blog for the Best Asian Weblog if you haven’t done so already. (You can find instructions here.) Voting closes this Sunday, February 19th.
Of course, I won’t fail you if you don’t vote for me.
But, uh, I may call your parents.