On being on the other side.
You finish your meeting with the Deputy Director of the university. Not all of your questions have been answered, but you managed to pin him down on most of your concerns. You head up to the teacher’s lounge to gather your thoughts and review your notes before your first lecture. If only you’d known how much effort your university professors put into preparing each lecture; you might have been a little more appreciative.
The room is quiet. Other professors greet you as they flow in and out, but you’re clearly absorbed in your preparations, and they generally leave you alone. A few make a genuine effort to intrude and get to know you, and, surprisingly, you appreciate their efforts. You’d forgotten the legitimacy that expectations confer, that is, you’d forgotten that because they expect you to be qualified and professional, they’ll treat you like you are.
Feeling more like a professor and less like a truant, you head down to pick up the keys to your lab, then head over to your lecture. The room is less than half full. You wait 5 minutes until 1:00, and you start anyway. Within minutes, word has spread (oh, the joy of text messages), and the classroom is full to brimming. Yes, today is the first day of class. Congratulations, you figured it out.
You briefly introduce yourself and begin your lecture. You would have handed out the syllabus, but there’s no electricity, and thus, no photocopier. Slowly, your lecture gets rolling. After a few months of working with smaller, informal groups of students, there are definitely no problems with public speaking; however, after 15 minutes, you are clearly talking above your students’ heads. You backtrack and take the whole thing a lot slower.
In a way, it’s fortunate that the power is cut. It gives you time to clarify and expound on subjects you expected would be understood far more easily than they are. It’s clear that some of your students are enthusiastic about learning and understanding. It’s equally clear that some of your students couldn’t care less about learning from their young, foreign teacher whose accent is occasionally hard to understand. Instead of presenting a syllabus for 20 minutes, lecturing for an hour, then heading for the (powerless) computer lab, you lecture for two hours, then let the class out early.
Your throat is sore. Every muscle in your body aches. Drained, exhausted, and wanting nothing more than a cigarette, you stumble to a friend’s house, where you collapse into an exhausted puddle.
Too bad your day isn’t over yet.