I was told there’d be cake

This week I had the first meeting of my New RU class.  It seems like a good group, and I enjoyed our work together.  It’s a small group, though–six students and me.  As anyone who’s ever taught one knows, very small classes can get a lot of work done, get to know one another quite well, and delve very deeply into the issues at hand.  They can also lose momentum frighteningly fast, especially in the middle of the term when there might be one or two people out sick and one or two others who are tired, coming down with something, or just underprepared.  Since this is a creative writing workshop, it will probably be as well for me to have a good writing exercise in my back pocket, so to speak, at all times, in case of low energy or–horrors!–not enough to talk about. 

It’s important for me to come in at high energy anyway, but with a small class it’s vital.  It’s also an evening class, so coming in with high energy takes some preparation.  Teaching high school means that I am awake no later than 6:30–and I’m usually up quite a bit earlier since I like those early morning hours for writing and grading.  So twelve hours later I’m not naturally champing at the bit to teach a three-hour class.  I have to eat a light but nourishing dinner; have a decent, if rough, plan for the class; and I pretty much have to have some coffee, too.  And I need to take a little time to sit and look over my notes and/or handouts and get myself psyched up. 

The class meets in a tall, narrow building on the NRU campus, in the smallest seminar room I have ever seen.  It’s got one of those blackboards with sliding panels filling up one wall, maybe about ten feet long; the opposite wall is solid brick, and the outside wall is maybe six feet wide, with three tall gun-slit windows.  The room is narrow, so instead of a seminar table we have four of those slender two-person tables pushed together.  (As I describe it, it sounds impossibly small.  Perhaps my rough guesses at measurements are way off.  I should take a tape measure next time.)

Which would all be fine except that the classroom next door is much larger and hosts a class during the same period of about forty boisterous evening students, and we’re pretty much jammed next to them right behind their blackboard.  They had quiet periods in which only one person was speaking at a time, but there were also bursts of chatter during group work and a huge amount of noise in the hallway at break time.  I went out during their break to ask them to tone it down, but groups kept leaving and arriving and I couldn’t both teach the class and stand at the door to hush people.  I can deal with the noise through the wall when they’re legitimately having class, but I will try to catch the other instructor before class next week and ask him to request consideration for the neighboring classes at break time.  I might also put a sign on our door.

(Did I mention that I think the boisterous class is high school teachers earning credits toward their master’s degrees?  I’m pretty sure, anyway.  The M.A.T. program is right down the hall.  And they sound as though they’re having way too good a time to be traditional graduate students.)

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