Some Days Are Like This
Yesterday was my first day back at my little school on the hill. It is good to be back, even though I had been ill most of the week and I was anxious to the point of nausea all morning. When I mentioned this, several people smiled knowingly and said my anxiety was due to "nerves", even though I was determined that this was not "nerves" at all. How could I possibly be nervous after all the teaching I've done recently?
I am teaching three lab sections of Anatomy and Physiology this semester, each of which has 16 students, except one lab section that was overloaded by an overpaid administrator in the biology department. Because there is only enough bench space, chairs and microscopes for 16 students, and not one of them could be convinced to enroll in a different section, the poor Lab Tech ran around for much of the class period, trying to find another set of functioning compound and dissecting microscopes, skeletons, histology slides and other things that are essential for this class.
Almost all of my students are studying for a degree in Physical Therapy or Nutrition/Dietetics (none of my students has yet been able to describe the difference between Nutrition and Dietetics, by the way, but these are separate degrees), with one or two wishing to become a Physician's Assistant or to go to medical school. So far, my students are a great group, just as they were this summer, although it is still too early to know if they are fans of the Harry Potter books.
I have an office; a real office with a window and an air conditioner and a door that locks that I share with only two other people (neither of whom I've met yet), with a desk and filing cabinets and book shelves that I don't have to share with anyone. It also has a slanted ceiling and walls that protrude into the room, giving it an interesting shape and lots of wall space.
How different this office is from Sweatshop U! At Sweatshop U, there were only three desks and a similar number of filing cabinets housed in a long, narrow and windowless room that resembled a janitor's closet, that were shared between 82 Adjuncts. Of course, I am not an Adjunct now, I am a full-time temporary professor. I feel almost like I am a real person!
My office is located on the fourth floor, and walking up all those narrow stairs is quite painful right now because I am still recovering from hauling a 70 pound steel parrot cage up four flights of stairs to my apartment a couple days ago (for my gift parrot, Zazu).
I also have my own mailbox in the department mailroom. When I arrived, I checked my mailbox for my text books (which had not yet arrived -- of course!), and was surprised to find a direct deposit slip informing me that I had already been paid, even though it was only the first day of work! I breathed a sigh of relief, hoping that I would not experience another midnight panic attack for a few months, at least.
Even though it is only the first day of class, my students are already telling me stories, stories about professors they've been tortured by in the past. (Why don't any of them tell stories about professors they liked or admired?). For example, one student told me that the lecture professor for my class began by informing everyone that she could fail half the class or even the whole class, that she didn't care if she did so, that failing them was not her problem. I am not sure of the context for her comments, but several students were really upset by them. These students proceeded to tell me that this professor received very poor ratings on a cute little website where college and university students can anonymously evaluate their professors publically. [I wasn't listed, but even if I was, I would not reveal my identity here so blatantly! .. so I instead checked out my blog pal, PZ Myers from Pharyngula, and sure enough, there he is! I can only hope that my students complain about me because I am "too smart", but I suspect they will instead believe I am a mindless bimbo because I am blonde and female.]
So after checking out that website from the campus student computer lab (a professor could become obsessed with that website, I suppose), I then discovered that my former students from summer semester were pleased to see me again. Throughout the afternoon, they approached me and told me of their summer adventures after the semester had ended; of the books they'd read, of the places they'd visited. Their frequent visits and cheery "Hello Professor!"s cheered me. I haven't answered many emails yet, but I find I am not yet disappointed by this.
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