On Tuesday we heard a rumor that Freshmen classes might be starting soon. The rumor was confirmed when Wes got the official call on Tuesday night: classes would be starting on Thursday. I was a little surprised. I half expected to get an early Wednesday morning call saying, “By the way, classes start today.”
Today was the first day of classes, and my day started with a 7:30am class. I would complain-a lot, but it is the only day of the week I have class first thing. The day went pretty well, all things considered. The “all things” part included:
1. I arrived at what should have been my classroom and of course it wasn’t. Fortunately, a student recognized me and showed me which room my class had been moved to according to the new schedule which we hadn’t received.
2. I went to the new classroom and the door was locked. Even though the door “should” have been unlocked, I wasn’t really expecting it to be. I sent a student up to the office to find someone with a key. The bell rang. The group of freshmen huddled in the hallway smiled nervously. Eventually an apologetic woman arrived with a key and we all filed into the classroom.
3. The Phonetics class took place in a computer classroom. The computers may or may not have worked, but since I didn’t know how to use them, I decided to just leave them alone. Wes was going to get someone to come and explain it to me, but I forgot to tell him I had class this morning. I thought he knew. After all, I knew, and sometimes I assume people can read my mind. That never works out well.
4. I realized early on that the students did not have the textbook I was told they would have. They stared up at me with blank looks. After showing me several different books they did have, they decided none of those were for this class. I had one of those nervous moments when I thought, “Crap, now what do I do? At least half of my lesson is from this book!” But then I recovered and thought, “Oh well, I can always make stuff up.” One of the students stumblingly said something that I took to be “Our teacher will give us those books soon.” But since I was prompting half the words, I can’t really be sure. It could just be my wishful thinking.
5. The class went okay and I made do by writing a lot of stuff on the board. As another class of students came in for my second class, I noticed a large group of students congregated outside my door. I thought they were probably just wanting a look at the foreigner…until Wes came in and said, “Apparently you are supposed to be teaching this class too. At the same time. So if you could just run up and down between the two, that would be great…” I said, “I love multitasking.” I’ve just got to get better at the teleporting. So apparently this whole schedule thing hadn’t quite been worked out. I never did find out what happened to the other class. They disappeared before I could talk to them. I hope they don't hold it against me.
Really though, my other two classes went okay. After my second phonetics class, a crowd of students came up to take pictures with me. One girl bounded up and threw her arms all the way around me for a picture. I was like, “Well hello.” Of course she was the girl who, when introducing herself said, “I chose my name because it means cheerful! And I am very cheerful!! I want to always be cheerful!! I want my classmates to be cheerful!! I want the whole world to be cheerful!!!!” With that many exclamation points.
My third class was Oral English, and that is pretty easy. You just say some stuff and then tell them to talk about things. Maybe there are a few other elements involved, but no computers and very few pronunciation symbols. Which makes it easy in my book.
Kevin’s first day of classes began after mine ended: he had a late afternoon and an evening class. We each teach 16 hours a week and have managed to have no classes at the same time. Amazing how that works out. So it’s a little bit of a bummer, but there are still some times when we will get to see each other.
So the first day of classes is over. I feel like I actually have a job again, which is nice except for the sore feet and scratchy throat. I was happy today though, thinking about how much easier it was to handle all those crazy confusions now than it would have been several years ago. I guess I have progressed in the flexibility factor. Or I have lowered my expectations. Either way, it works out about the same in the end.