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Archive for August 28th, 2012

The intense thought that I put into arbitrary decisions when creating my syllabi does not prevent me from making (and dealing with) mistakes. This semester, for example, a mix-up between me, the campus bookstore, and a publisher led to me arriving in the classroom with a different version of the textbook than my students and, as a result, a syllabus listing the wrong page numbers for course readings. Last semester my small discussion-based class was assigned to one of the largest lecture halls on campus. Making matters worse was the fact that the seats were arranged stadium-style so that everybody had a good view of the front of the classroom but the students could not hear each other.

Nothing tops my experience when heading to teach my very first class as a graduate student, though. On that fall day I took the bus from my apartment to campus, transferring at the downtown station. I then made my way to my classroom, which was in the business building. I arrived suitably early and started preparing by getting out my notes and syllabi and logging into the computer system while students trickled in. Then, just before my class was scheduled to begin, a man walked in, thinking that it was actually his classroom. I asked him if he was sure he was in the right place and he said that he was. I asked the assembled students what class they were there to attend. All but two (out of approximately 70) said that they were there for this other man’s business course. Since I was logged into the computer I looked online and found that my classroom had been moved late in the summer from the computer building to the basement of the library, which was thankfully just across the street. Publicly revealed as idiots, my two students and I quickly made the walk to our actual classroom, where we arrived about ten minutes late. Thankfully, the students who had gone to the right place to begin with were there waiting for us. There’s nothing like a humbling experience on your first day in a position of authority!

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