Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Just Call Me Miss

Tomorrow I have my first class as a university seminar teacher. I am being trusted to get twelve first year undergraduates through the first of the four core courses they need to pass in order to get their degrees. I will have to teach them how to write academic essays, how texts can manipulate them, how to decipher the coded messages we all receive every day. From me they will have to learn how to learn at university level: how to make the most of lectures, summarise the books they read, and form coherent arguments of their own. Not all of them will be doing this in their first language because some of them are overseas students. How I feel sorry for them all. But I need the job.

Meanwhile, I am still a student myself and just getting to grips with being back in the throws of work after a decidedly non-working summer. And I seem to have forgotten how to write. I still haven't mastered poetry and my prose, which once was good, is an abomination. I can feel my grades slipping.

The half bottle of wine I've just drunk probably isn't helping; is it just me or is it awfully warm in here?


Jane Dearie said...

Very best of luck for tomorrow. I remember my first day teaching 40 post-grads - all from overseas. I was so nervous but it was fine .....and you'll be fine and they'll learn loads from you. You have a lot of experience to share and a wealth of knowledge.
I think with the writing course you hit ups and downs, but I'm sure yours will be temporary hiccups and then a big high will soon be on it's way .... to match your marks. Jane x

savannah said...

all the best tomorrow, sugar! xoxox

(i hope you've gone to sleep already!)

The World According To Me said...

Hi Miss!

All the best for your first day. Usually the thinking is worse than the practice! I'm sure you'll be fine.

And I'm sure you're get back into the swing of being a student again.


Kim Ayres said...

Wow! Wish I'd had a seminar teacher like you - no one showed me any of those things. Some I'd figured out by the time I took my finals, and some I didn't figure out until about 10 years after I left Uni.

I'm sure it will go well, and the students will love you :)

Conan Drumm said...

Miss. Please, Miss. Miss!! MISS! MISSSSSSSSS!

Knowitall Student: That's a homophone, Miss. You know, a word that sounds like another word but isn't the one you mean, Miss? There, Miss. Right in the middle of your post, Miss. "throws", Miss. You see it rhymes with 'flows', Miss, when you meant 'floes', Miss? Ice floes, Miss. In the throes of work, Miss. You'll find a half bottle of wine lets all the homophones loose, Miss. Sorry for being such a cheeky fecker, Miss. Yes, Miss. Shutting the fuck up right now, Miss.

Leigh Russell said...

Best of luck. Having followed your blog, I think your students are lucky to have you teaching them. And yes, it is warm. And the wine is definitely to blame for everything.

Carole said...

Lucky lucky break your kids will have. You will probably learn as much as they as you teach them, but you are so giving them a leg up. Kuddos.

Eryl Shields said...

Jane ~ the 'high' has hit, I'm so excited I can barely speak. Tom introduced me to the narrative poet Adam Foulds (do you know him?), I've never read modern narrative poetry before and it seems so right for my themes.

My students were great, really diligent and bright. I had no problem trying to get people to speak up. Fab!

Savannah ~ Thank you, it was great, though if I had gone to sleep early the students would probably have learned more.

World ~ you are absolutely right, it was great.

Kim ~ I think universities are much more aware these days that we are not born knowing these things.

Conan ~ I need you to come and live under my desk to stop me making these terrible mistakes.

Leigh ~ very kind of you to say so.

Carole ~ hello there lady! I am hoping to learn much more from them than they can from me.

Paul said...

Hey Eryl - glad your first day went well. I'm not sure how much you'll learn from your students but in the process of teaching them you'll learn lots. Good luck!

Jane Dearie said...

Brill news on the return of the 'high.' No, I've not come across Adam Foulds, so Googled him and would like to read his work, especially like the sound of the piece that's to be published next.
Well done for your first day as Miss!
Jane x

Conan Drumm said...

Well done, I recall my two years filling in on a post-grad course, scary at first and then it dawned on me how much education these kids still needed, even after their primary degrees. The best of it is the really enquiring minds who make you re-think your own notions.

Eryl Shields said...

Paul ~ Thank you. I think you are right: I'm already noticing things coming back to the surface that I use unthinkingly every day.

Jane ~ I googled him too and can't find anything about his next publication, what is it called? The one I have is his narrative poem The Broken Word, which strikes me as rather marvellous.

Conan ~ Being a post-grad student myself, I know what you mean: it's astonishing how much I still have to learn, even at this age. It's nice to spend time with a whole bunch of people who know even less!

Jane Dearie said...

From Sunday Times, 27.04.08
'Foulds’s third, recently drafted book is different again, a historical novel about the poet John Clare, set in an 1840s Epping madhouse. Behind that are a stack of other ideas – a novel about postwar Sicily, another narrative poem, a second contemporary comedy - queuing up in Foulds’s head like planes at an airport. “I suppose,” he says, without apparent irony, “I don’t really know what kind of a writer I am yet. I find things that interest me and try to serve them.”'

Sounds like a man with loads of ideas on lots of subjects!

savannah said...

ah, sugar, i KNEW you'd do well! all the best to you! i'm sending my daughter your url. she's doing her masters in education (while teaching high school lit classes) now and i think would benefit from your insight! xoxo

(still laughing @conan's cheeky miss, miss, MISSSSSSSSS routine!)

Eryl Shields said...

Jane ~ Ah! I found it, it does sound interesting. He sounds an interesting character too.

Savannah ~ Gosh my insight!? I have four would be primary teachers in my class who are doing what we call the PGE which combines a primary and post-grad teaching degree over four years. I hope I don't put them off, we desperately need teacher here. They're all so young.

PI said...

I personally always loved it when I had something/one nice to look at so that's a plus for you. I still remember, as an infant, being captivated by a pretty teacher with an eau de nil organdy blouse.
This is the time when they have to learn not to expect to be spoon fed.
You'll be fine. Good luck.

Eryl Shields said...

Pat ~ when I was in primary school there was a teacher, who's class I was never in but really wanted to be, who was always dressed really stylishly. I still remember a rather radical deep blue and green tunic. My mother looked at her and said to me, rather snidely I thought even at the time: 'blue and green should never be seen.'