Last week, I taught my first class at college. It was quite the experience to say the least. Even now, I’m split between knowing that I did somewhere between “adequate” and “well,” and allowing the super self-critical side of me to autopsy the wreckage.
Wreckage is a gross overstatement because things weren’t *that* bad. I’m mostly critical over some common themes. First, I feel that the transitions between ideas could have used more intentional thought to make things smoother. Second, the second half of my presentation was fairly slap-dash in construction and could have spent less time buried under procrastination as I prepped. Finally, that my oration could have been better performed (read: slow down!).
The biggest observation was on just how exhausted I was when I finished. There are a number of reasons why I was so drained by the end, all of them preventable in hindsight: I didn’t sleep well the night before, I hadn’t eaten food all day prior to starting class, I hadn’t consumed any caffeine like I normally would have, I wore a moderately heavy sport coat for the first half of the class on an already humid day, I’m very animated when I speak, and teaching just takes a lot out of you. Only the last thing, I would say, is something I can’t control and will need to learn to manage. Everything else, yup, that was my fault. Next time, I’ll bring a lunch.
Those were the “bad” things. Almost everything else about the experience was great. I seemed to connect with the students. I felt that I was able to convincingly show that the students should take these issues in philosophy seriously. I feel like I earned their attention, despite it being a class from 1-4pm on a Friday.
Of the feedback I’ve received, students enjoyed my class and are looking forward to the rest of the term. That may be because I did my job well, or it could be because they feel less pressured by the work of the course. Time will tell on that front.
My final verdict for my first day of teaching is probably a B-. I made a fair number of points and supported my claims with evidence. The flow and presentation kept the audience entertained while sticking to a path that was clear to follow. There is room to improve, in that this felt like a first draft and could use a few more rounds of editing for coherence and to remove repetition, but otherwise a solid entry into the gradebook.