My First Class

I taught my very first class today, and let me tell you, it was nothing like what I anticipated. Contrary to my expectations, I did not simply stare at my students blankly for an hour. Nor did I break down crying or throw up. Indeed, I thought we had a very nice, intelligent, lively discussion on how questions of identity are and are not relevant (and are and are not dangerous) in resolving important social justice questions.

Right now, my evaluation of teaching is that is equal parts exhausting and invigorating. Despite the aforementioned success in not running out of things to say in the first half-hour, my main concern continues to be making sure I pace myself properly (this isn’t helped by my tendency to talk at something approximating Mach 3).

I do want to say that, while between many years of being a student and a few scattered experiences as a guest-teacher I had some inkling of what I was getting into — no, really, I didn’t. It is exciting though. And practice makes perfect. So next week, it’s back into the breach once again.

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3 Responses

  1. Matthew Lister says:

    Congratulations! Pacing is a problem with multiple aspects- both in individual classes and topics and the class as a whole. For me the biggest issues have always been figuring out how much material to cover both in the semester as a whole and in each class. My impression is that most people try to cover too much most of the time, and that new professors are especially prone to this. Even keeping that in mind I have had to work very hard to not try to cover too much material, often with limited success. (Some people never get over this problem.) Also, if you want to keep feeling nervous, check the drop/add list for a few weeks all the time to see if you’re scaring people away. It makes for lots of fun.

  2. Bill Reynolds says:

    Remember that doctrine can always be covered in lectures, and that lectures are best done in segments no longer than 10 minutes, so work them into the regular discussion. (I tell the kids that a mini-lecture is coming.)

  3. Orin Kerr says:

    Pacing comes with time, in my experience: As you get more comfortable, you get better at quickly checking the time and remembering how much you have to go, so you can adjust the speed accordingly.

    One thing to keep in mind is that if you get through the material and have a few minutes of extra time, you can always take that time to review. It might seem boring to you, but your students will very likely appreciate it a great deal. Also, if you review and then still have a bit of extra time, there’s nothing wrong with letting the class out a few minutes early.